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Nine Favourite Ways to Embrace Midwinter

By Jo Royle

How’re you finding 2024 so far?


Busy?  Quiet?  Creative?  Scattered?  Exciting?  Exhausting?


I was chatting to Emma in The Selkie Collective shop about how often we can run full pelt at the new year, but it’s useful to remember that although it’s a new year, it’s most definitely still midwinter.  Even if we’ve had time off over Christmas and had a good rest and are feeling better for it – perhaps even full of energy and creativity, it’s wise to remember it’s not yet Spring… not yet the time for putting out new shoots!


It can be hard to live in rhythm with nature and follow the lessons our beautiful earth teaches.  In our linear (read masculine… patriarchal) world we’re often conditioned to live in a linear way, rather than a cyclical more feminine way.  We’re expected, or expect ourselves, to be ‘on’ constantly and productive in equal measure all day long, all month long, all year long.  But this constant and consistent output is the way of machines, not the way of nature and as women, not the way of our nature!


In nature, this time of shorter days, more darkness and cold weather, is primarily for rest and inward activity.  Nothing much appears to be happening on the surface of the earth… the bulbs, the seeds and the trees are putting all their energy into growing deeper roots, roots that will sustain them through the year.  All the activity is about diving deeper down and in.  And soif we take nature’s lead we too can choose to go down and in… to slow, to rest, to sleep, to listen, to dream into what might be… without yet taking action to bring it into being in the outside world.  If bulbs start sprouting early their blooms will be weaker.  If trees’ roots don’t grow deeper into the earth, when they grow above ground, they may not survive the winds of the coming year.  And so it is for us… what we produce is more beautiful; and we are stronger and more resilient; if … we can embrace periods of dormancy, periods of rootedness.

Even at Imbolc (1 February) most activity is still underground… but perhaps starting to reach for the light.  By Ostara (21 March) everything is beginning to burst into life above ground, following its own irresistible urge to grow towards the light.  Can we let it be so with us?  Can we let ourselves… stay in the darkness for longer? stay in the dormancy for longer? rest longer? until we feel that irresistible pull to the light…  Can we stay in winter until it’s time to open to the energy of Spring? 


My sense is, if we can hold off a while longer, we can literally draw up the Spring energy from the earth.  At this time of year, it feels to move projects forward requires an inordinate amount of energy, but in the Spring, we can tap into the energy of nature… the energy in the earth and in the sun… allowing it to support us in our creative endeavours.  We don’t have to do it all ourselves!


And so The Selkie Collective asked me to share my nine favourite ways to embrace midwinter…

1.       Stay home.  Like the full moon is to the month, so the summer is to the year, the time for socialising and being out and about in the world.  The winter is a time for being home, doing little.

2.       Let yourself go to bed early and to sleep late.  Imagine how it would be if we didn’t have electric light… there are so many delicious hours of darkness to sleep at this time of year.  This is a time for dreaming, both night dreaming and day dreaming. 

3.       Listen.  This time of darkness in the year, like the dark moon each month, is a time for listening.  All comes out of the darkness… the womb…  Ask yourself what wants to be birthed through you into the world in the coming year and beyond?  You might divine answers through oracle cards or tarot; through noticing what nature presents, e.g. the symbolism of the animals which appear to you in nature.  For me it’s all about the crows and herons right now… crows symbolising transformation and positive change and the heron patience!  A perfect message to sit back a while longer before trying to make change!

4.       Ditch the task list.  Allow yourself to be unproductive.  I always feel super indulgent choosing to take a day off midweek.  Being unproductive is a radical act in today’s society!

5.       Go in and down. Spend some time meditating each day; and grounding yourself on the earth… you might even walk barefoot outside, if your toes can cope with the cold!

6.       Work with your dreams.  Journal your dreams on waking (it helps to remember them).  Explore the imagery which presents itself...  What does it mean to you?

7.       Feast your senses.  Read poetry, gaze at artwork, listen to the music which gives you goosebumps, eat nourishing food, diffuse or bathe in your favourite oils… surround yourself with beauty to feed your imagination.

8.       Take a nap.  Yes even if you’ve slept late or are planning to retire early… most of us live with a sleep debt and don’t have anywhere near enough sleep… embrace your inner bear this midwinter, only doing what’s absolutely necessary.

9.       Vision the future.  Jot down or collage what’s coming to you in your day dreams and night dreams, meditations, listening, in nature, through divination, in your naps.  Notice what’s inspiring excitement in you… what’s bringing you alive… what’s making your soul sing… and without jumping into action… allow yourself to dream into it more; to visualise it; to use your imagination to paint a more detailed picture.

And if after the midwinter and the stirring of Imbolc, you want to rebalance with the rhythms of nature at Ostara… open to the energies of Spring and reawaken your creativity…


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