As a season, winter has different associations for different people. For those of us in the Northeast USA (and other northerly climes) it means snow, ice, often-unsafe driving conditions, and feeling as if you may never thaw out. It means coming to despise the sight of a wool sweater and boots. It can mean shuddering at the first sight of a snowflake.
People in California, Hawaii, and other locations can become as depressed at the sight of rain, and people everywhere may find that shortening days foster darkening gloom.
It's all too easy to focus on winter's low points in terms of physical inconvenience and discomforts. There is, however, an alternative way to look at this weather question. If, as many believe, the external world is a mirror of our internal thoughts and feelings, and if we experience ourselves as the source of our lives, we can recognize that we've chosen to experience the particular sets of circumstances in which we find ourselves.
To get to the point where we're in a state of nonresistance towards our experiences it can be very helpful to discover the feelings and beliefs which have been keeping us in a state of resistance. I took a moment to list the feelings I have about winter, doing my best not to mention the words cold, snow, and ice. (More temperately-inclined readers would try to avoid the words rain, floods, and mud slides).
Here's my list:
I suggested not mentioning snow or cold, but I remember a persistent thought I had during a very severe winter: "If this is such a technologically advanced society why can't anyone do something about all this SNOW?" In a sense, this question leads into the heart of an exploration of feelings and beliefs about winter.
Although many of you who read this newsletter have strong feelings about some of the results of our advanced technology (so do I) we don't want to live in caves, warmed only by a fire. We're fond of central heating and warm clothing and storm doors and windows.
Underneath these feelings we may find lurking the idea that technology is supposed to protect us from nature's seemingly excessive behavior. We often (as I did) feel outraged when it fails to do so.
We may feel something deeper than outrage: fear. A blizzard (like a severe hurricane or any other major weather event) may lead us to feel as if all the trappings of civilizations have fallen away. Life seems to be a struggle for survival against the the raw elements of nature, and it's not a struggle we think we can win. We may feel as if we are little more protected than the cave dwellers of eons ago. In some ways we may feel less protected, for the cave folks were far better at accepting nature in all of its forms than we are.
Our feelings of isolation when snow covers the sidewalks and streets (or in the case of our wet-weather friends, flooding occurs) and travel becomes difficult or unsafe aren't simply that we can't get to the store or to visit a friend, but that we're alone with ourselves (or with a spouse/partner, which can sometimes be even worse). We are liable to start thinking about subjects we'd just as soon ignore. Winterãor any period of enforced isolationãmay be the season when our deepest issues rise to the surface, the time when we find ourselves contemplating the essence of our being and wondering what life is all about, anyway.
In terms of the cycle of the seasons this may be exactly what we're meant to be doing. This is exemplified by Bear Medicine.
As described by Jamie Sams and David Carson in Medicine Cards, Bear symbolizes introspection. The bear goes into its cave to sleep and assimilate the lessons of the previous year. We have the same capacity to quiet our minds and enter that silent and eternal place of wisdom within us.
Unlike Bear, we may be afraid that when we enter this space we may lose ourselves. We may think of it not as a place of Dreaming but of nightmares. Yet the greater nightmare is that of unknowing, of living in the fear generated by uncertainty, and existing in the physical and emotional tension of resisting questions for which we are afraid there are no answers.
Bear teaches us that sometimes it is necessary to go into the darkness in order to experience the light. Bear tells us that it is safe to do so, that as this animal builds up the physical resources to survive the winter so we have within ourselves the spiritual resources to survive the quest for the answers we need.
And when we come out of the darkness we will discover that our dreams, like the seeds which sleep during winter, will flower into reality.
There is no better time than cold or damp weather for surrounding yourself with and wearing the warm stones.
When night seems to come far earlier than we would like citrine reminds us that we are each the source of of light, and helps us to be warmed by our inner sun. Amber is invaluable for relieving the feeling of depression which is often one of winter's less welcome gifts.
Tiger's eye, which contains much light within darkness, is another reminder of our inner light. It also teaches patience, a quality of which we can never have too much during winter.
For those moments when we get angry at or resentful of winter sugilite is an ideal stone, and charoite can help us to handle fear.
At this time of year give special thought to the stones associated with the second chakra. Although this energy center relates to sexuality it's connected in general with the free flowing of energy, as symbolized by its color, red.
Years ago we discovered that putting bloodstone inside our gloves when we were going to be outside seemed to keep our hands warm. Carnelian's orange-red glow is also warming, and ruby, the stone of passion, is wonderful to hold or wear on a cold winter's night.
When the soul feels insecure in the physical bodyãoften with a feeling of coldness in the physical extremities, Rosemary is recommended. If winter's conditions make you feel insecure consider this remedy.
Do you resent winter? Do you feel that it's unfair? Willow is the classic remedy for any feelings of resentment, and helps us go adapt more easily to the natural flow of life.
At a certain point during winterãfor some of us it happens on December 22ãpeople may become impatient with a winter which feels as if it will never end. Impatiens is the perfect remedy for dealing with restlessness and the condition known as "cabin fever."
Holly is in many ways one of the most appropriate flower remedies for this time of year. As its beautiful plant reminds us that this is a time for celebration so its essence helps to nurture in us the open-hearted and loving spirit which is the true nature of the holiday season.
This year we would like to thank all those who shop at Beyond the Rainbow during the holiday season by giving you a certificate for 10% off the price of any gift for yourself. We will give this certificate to all shoppers beginning the day after Thanksgiving and ending the day before Christmas. It may be redeemed during the month of January 1995.
One of the kindest of Nature's gifts is that when winter begins the days grow longer. Even though we may be slogging through snow and slush (of course, we don't mind, now that we've handled all of our limiting beliefs about winter) we are cheered by increasing sunlight.
This is why the Winter Solstice has for so long been a time of celebration. it reminds us that out of darkness comes light, that out of our uncertainty arises sureness, and that even our sorrow holds within it the seeds of great joy.
You, our readers and customers, have planted countless seeds of joy in our lives, and Beyond the Rainbow is the place where we nurture them with great tenderness and love.
As the new year begins we take this special opportunity to thank you for being in our lives and for the opportunity
to be part of yours.