Midwinter or the winter solstice is a time of reflection – going inside to gather one’s energy and strength, a time of letting go – releasing old patterns of thinking and behaviour that no longer serve us and resetting our intention for the year ahead. Christmas festivities are based on the ancient pagan celebration of Saturnalia. A time when work, business and schools closed and great feasting and revelry took place. In some places Masters also served their servants.
However midwinter can also be seen as the ‘dark night of the soul.’ When the shadow has overtaken the light within and can result in extreme mental anguish leaving the personality facing complete annihilation. This is not an ordinary despair or hopelessness however but total suffering leaving the individual feeling that they have reached ‘the end of the road.’ In these cases the Bach Flower essence Sweet Chestnut can restore the strength needed to cope with inevitable change and loss in our lives. What can the poets teach us about midwinter? ‘Winter is for women’ (Wintering) wrote Sylvia Plath in 1962 written in one of the harshest winters in 100 years or Carol Ann Duffy, ‘that trick we have of turning love to pain.’ (Wintering) who writes that love oftentimes is bittersweet. Or Katherine May, who ask us ‘to invite the winter in’ like an old friend so that we may let go of the old and welcome the new.