This is not a post about religious beliefs or about the origins of different festivals. It is mainly about natural rhythms, which depend on geographical location. In order to stay healthy and balanced, it is important to understand and respect them. It is also about seeing connections, which is another important skill to develop on your healing journey.
Why pagan new year?
It just so happens that in the northwestern part of Europe where I reside the real winter starts just around this time. The temperature drops and it gets cold overday and overnight, the sun is very low and shines only for a few hours a day, the trees shed their last leaves, the plant growth slows down so that it’s almost invisible… There are also many changes in how we, humans, feel and behave in winter but we have to be sensitive enough to notice them! (I recently wrote about Vata being in a growing phase at the moment, if you have not done so yet have a look here).
It seems that our ancestors who lived on this territory thousands of years ago had a solid understanding of seasons and what they meant for people. Now, around the 1st of November, the harvest stops completely and winter begins. The longest nights will take place around the 21st of December and then the days will slowly start getting longer again. The spring will arrive around the 1st of February (the festival is known as Imbolc in pagan culture). Although it will still be cold and unpleasant, there will be something in the air that will tell you that spring is near. Again, you will have to be sensitive enough to notice this…
What is Winter time best used for?
We have to wait for spring, though, so until then we can embrace the darkest time of the year and use it wisely. The time between now and winter Solstice (known as Yule, approximately coincides with Christmas) is the best time for introspection, reflection, looking deep inside, working with the shadow and (re)aligning with our real values and true nature. I think, this is one of the reasons this period is marked with a shade of gloom and death. Yes, it is the death of the year. Yes, it is time to get rid of stuff – emotional and physical – that you don’t need to carry with you any further.
It truly is the time of great preparation for the next year, just as trees do not stop living when they drop their leaves: there is a deep hidden work happening that is only visible to the most observant
P.S. It also happens that around this time of the year we finish harvesting pumpkins. Read what else you can do with a pumpkin (apart from carving 😉 in my Ode to Pumpkin post.