At winter solstice, the darkest point of the year, light begins its journey of reemergence. This great cosmological rhythm sets our internal clocks, our biorhythms, to the subtle glow of slowly increasing light. In our spiritual and creative process, we begin our own gradual awakening and reemergence from the dark, fertile soil of winter.
This biological and spiritual attunement to light is what has made the many cosmological temples with their ritual periods of connection to the sun, so powerful through the ages.
Can you imagine the impact of the winter solstice less than a hundred years ago when we lived life primarily in natural light? At the nadir of the year, we were sustained by the living fire of candlelight and by bonfires when, in some places in the world such as Scandinavia, a day might consist of as much as twenty-three hours of darkness. And we were sustained by celebration—the twelve-day festival of yule and other rituals of its kind—in which we came together and made merry and honored the promise of the lengthening days ahead.
We have marked the all-important sadhya of winter solstice, the rebirth of the sun, with the literal birth of a son. Myths about the return of the sun king at this time of year have been recorded as far back as ancient Sumeria and Egypt. The birth of Christ and of the Lord of the Dance of the seasons re-erect an extraordinary diversity of winter solstice holidays that celebrate the rebirth of the light through the mirror of human birth. In fact, there are more cross-cultural celebrations at this point in the wheel of the year than at any other time—from Scotland to China, from Tibet to Antarctica—as we turn to one another for comfort, solace, and the shared joy that comes from bonding together to celebrate the return of the light.
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Shiva Rea, MA, is a pioneer in the evolution of vinyasa flow yoga. She founded Samudra Global School for Living Yoga based upon her worldwide travels and her studies in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures program, as well as the roots of yoga in Tantra, Ayurveda, and dance. From transformative home practice videos to large-scale festivals, Shiva offers yoga as a universal pathway for self-realization and awakening positive change for all. For more visit shivarea.com.