The solstice teaches me a lot about that part of me that feels fear.
So we’re over the hump of the year. Thank fudge.
Last week the year turned, and from here on, the days start getting longer again.
There’s something about this idea that gives me a deep, full-bodied sense of relief.
But when I think about it, I realise that it’s a bit strange. Because I know the coldest days are still ahead of us.
So in terms of what has the most impact on my lived reality, surely I’d care more about heat than light, right? I’ve got Mediterranean blood in my veins. The cold freaks me out.
But we don’t celebrate the end of the cold months the way that we celebrate the solstice.
And throughout history and across cultures, the solstices are the key marker points of the year.
I think at a primal level it’s a real test of faith – to watch the days get shorter and shorter and just trust that the trajectory is going to change. That it will bottom out at some point and turn the corner.
In my rational mind, I’m like, of course the days will start getting longer again. That’s how it’s rolled for millions of years. This year’s not going to be any different.
But that’s a logical process. At a sub-logical level, at a primal body level, I think I’m watching the days get shorter and colder and I’m freaking out.
What if it doesn’t stop? What if it just keeps going like this? What if the sun disappears completely and we all just freeze?
And then the days turn and my body is like, Oh thank fudge for that. Whoa. We really dodged a bullet there.
And my rational mind is like, ‘what are you talking about? That’s what happens every year.’
And my primal body is like,
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m a child of the moment. I don’t even know what you mean when you go on about abstract concepts like ‘year’ or ‘cycle’.”
“I really don’t get why you have to be so difficult. The seasons move in cycles. It’s not that hard.”
“Whatever. Hey, are you hungry. Let’s go get some souvlaki.”
“You know we’re on a diet.”
“Oh, again with these abstract concepts!”
Do you get what I mean when I rave on about these inner conversations? What I’m saying is that the primal body, the emotional body, lives in the moment. It only knows what the senses tell it, and it operates on the patterns it has learnt.
As the days get shorter, it’s going to start to feel fear.
So how do you teach the primal body?
It has to move in it. It has to embody the lesson, over and over, until it becomes part of its patterning.
And what does this embodying class-room look like?
Rituals are embodied practices that seek to make a habit of a desired state.
And so I think the ancient rituals celebrating the solstice were our ancestors way of training their bodies to understand the seasons and cycles of the earth.
You do this movement at this time of year. Climb Mt. Olympus. Make an offering. Light a lamp. Do this dance. Walk back down.
Repeat, year after year.
In this way, the physical, emotional body is brought into alignment with the seasons. It comes to understand them in a way that the rational mind finds so easy that it doesn’t even have to think about it, but does in a much shallower way.
I think you’ll understand what I’m saying if you’ve ever had to talk a child out of their fears.
“No, there’s no monster under the bed. There’s no such thing as monsters. There’s so much crap under your bed that unless that monster’s the size of a hamster, it couldn’t even fit.”
“Stop with these abstract concepts, Dad. It’s not helping. My body feels afraid.”
This is something to pay attention to if you want to get the most out of your self. If you want to take your self on grand missions, dive into epic projects, take daring gambles.
There is part of you that will feel afraid, and you won’t be able to talk it down.
But that part of you is a child of the moment. Wrap it in a cuddle, let it take a few deep, long breaths, give it mental space to think about peaceful thoughts or nothing at all…
… and it will come round.