The Winter Solstice: A Shamanic Journey of the Soul

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In the northern hemisphere, depending on the elliptical path of the earth around the sun, the Winter Solstice falls on December 20, 21, 22, or 23 (December 21, 2016). Also known as Yule, the Solstice marks the longest night and shortest day.  It is when the goddess, in her Dark Mother aspect, gives birth through her night-sky womb to the Sun God and the New Year.

Mid-winter also denotes the season of the wolf, and the time of the hermit/shaman.  Wolf totems help us develop our inner strength and intuition.  Like the shaman, wolves can be powerful allies as we journey inward to face sadness or our deepest fears. 

According to the shaman Jade Wah'oo Gigori[1], shamanic journeying was a common motif among the Winter Solstice Ceremonies of the Laplanders, Siberians, and other far northern Asiatic peoples.  Through spirit flight, the shaman and his/her reindeer would carry the burdens of each tribe member ‘s soul up a Sacred Tree or Pole of Ascension to the North Star.  There, in what Grigori calls the “Compassionate Heart of Purification” and the “Heart of the Eagle,” each soul’s burden was burned and purified. 

The release of the constrained Soul Essence would propel the shaman out onto the Path of Souls, where he/she would receive a gift for the liberated Soul Essence. The shaman would then return to the Heart of the Eagle and sing the gift into the waiting Soul Essence.  The final step in the shaman’s journey was to bring the regenerated Soul Essence back to earth as a gift for the person to whom it belonged. 

As the Longest Night approaches, ask yourself what inner darkness you need to release.  Imagine entering the New Year with your Soul’s Essence transformed.  If you are already experienced in spirit flight, then make the journey.  Ask Wolf or another spirit guide to aid you.  Or seek a shaman to make the journey on your behalf.  Purify and liberate your Soul’s Essence so you may begin anew with ease and grace, with dark and light in balance.

Honor the Dark

This journey may be made in silence, or with drumming.

Sit in an unlit room.  Allow tension to leave your muscles.  Slowly exhale, releasing the stress of the day.  Then inhale a long breath, drawing in healing light.  Exhale.  Inhale.  Your body grows heavy.  Exhale.  Inhale.  Your breath becomes slow and steady, and your inner journey begins.

Envision yourself diving through still, deep water.  A single shaft of sunlight provides dim illumination. Fast, insistent drumming propels you downward, further and further through the semi-darkness.  A forest green sack appears in your hand. Continue diving downward.  When you sense the presence of your soul’s burden, your Soul’s Essence hidden in the dark depths, open the green bag and drag it through the water.  Capture your Soul’s Essence and the burden it contains.  Close your hand around the sack so the burden cannot escape. 

Rapid drumming urges you upward with the sack.  Up, up, up, faster, and urgently.  You reach the Compassionate Heart of Purification, the Heart of the Eagle.  Open the sack and release your soul’s burden.  You become lighter as the burden burns and purifies.  The purification frees your life force, compelling you out of the Heart of the Eagle. 

Tiny stars at your feet spiral upward, loosely winding around your legs, spiraling upward around your torso and arms, around your shoulders, and then your head. Your skin tingles.  You ascend, ecstatic, and receive your gift.

Blessed, you return to the Heart of the Eagle and reunite with your Soul’s Essence.  Joyously you merge the Cosmic Blessing with your Soul’s Essence.  Regenerated, your soul shows you who you truly are; who and what it longs to be.  Return to earth with that vision.  Return to the here and now.  When you are ready, open your eyes.  Be sure to journal or draw or paint what you experienced.   

Celebrate the Return of the Light

During the Winter Solstice, place a central candle or several candles of varying heights on a mirror or silver tray.  Arrange shiny sleigh bells or single-color Christmas ornaments around the base of the candlesticks.  When lit, the candlelight will reflect off the bells, ornaments, and mirror or tray.  To further multiple the effect, place the candles in front of a mirror.  Be sure you do not leave the candles unattended.  Envision the light you have created joining with other candles, Yule logs, and bonfires to help turn the Wheel of the Year and bring back the warmth and light.

Copyright 2016 by Ariella Moon

[1] Gigori, Jade Wah’oo.  “Winter Solstice: A Time of the Shaman’s Gift Bringing.” www.shamanic.netJade Wah'oo Gigori

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