life practices: winter solstice

My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

Woodcut by Carol Zaloom

Winter Solstice occurs this year on December 21st at 11:30 pm CT. This is the first day of Winter—the shortest day and longest night of the year. Every day thereafter, the days grow longer until Summer Solstice, when we have the longest day and the shortest night.

Wintertime is the season of rest and renewal for the natural world. Plants stop growing and return to the earth, focusing their energy in their roots or in seed that lies dormant until Spring. Most animals that don’t migrate find comfort in shelter or hibernate until warmer weather. For us, as humans, it can also be a time of rest, a time of going inward to nourish our souls, a time of re-creation. However, as we head inside for the cold Minnesota Winter, it’s often the opposite—we find more and more to do. Not only are the holidays coming, but everything that was set aside over the Summer and Fall now captivates our attention.

The part of us that is in touch with the turning of the seasons yearns for this time of turning inward to nourish our roots, this time of rest. What would it mean to spend time in the darkness waiting and ready for the unknown, quiet and attentive to the unknown? What if we didn’t immediately turn to our to-do lists whenever we had a free moment, thus filling up our time with the known? What if we stopped for a moment to take in the darkening, to rest more, to respond to the invitation to slow down and nourish our souls? How might our lives be different?

Here’s a starting place for a journal exploration, or a short ritual alone or with friends:
• Begin in the dark, sitting in silence for a time, breathing in the darkness and the stillness.
• As you sit with yourself, notice your body and feelings. What arises in you? How is it to sit here quietly with nothing to do?
• When you are ready, light a single candle.
• Notice if there is a change in you with this light—keep coming back to your body and heart.
• Name out loud or in your journal what the darkness and stillness is calling forth in you. You may want to follow your body’s impulse to move or sound this experience.
• Acknowledge your gratefulness for this inward time of re-creation, and blow out the candle.

Please join me and other members of Unity Church Unitarian for a Winter Solstice Celebration at 7:00 pm in the Parish Hall on December 21st. You can find more information below. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons. 

Singing Meditation, Sunday, December 18th from 7:00-8:30 pm, with Katy and cellist, Anna Vazquez. How can you find the still point at your center in the midst of the chaos we call “holidays”? Come to the St. Paul Yoga Center to sing, meditate, and breathe with us in a peaceful, candlelit space, with warm tea for the throat, the healing sounds of cello, harmonium, chants and rounds sung in community, and the ultimate gift of your own presence.

Singing Meditation is the practice of singing simple chants and rounds from many spiritual traditions as a group and then dissolving into silence and allowing a time of quiet meditation before the next song is begun. Singing in this way can be a practice of coming home to our embodied selves as we allow the vibrations of sound to quiet our minds, open our hearts, and land us more deeply in our bodies, in the moment, physically present. All songs will be repeated many times and all are welcome (no prior singing experience necessary). Read more about Anna’s work and download a flyer. $10-$15 suggested donation.

Do you take time to sing, hum, or sound? Next time you do, notice how your body is affected by the vibrations. Also notice how your heart and mind respond.

Save the Date: In March 2012, my singing partner Amy Fradon will be joining me for a Singing Body Workshop and a Concert of my music. Read more and download a flyer

Collage gives me a really valuable way to get to know myself in a nonlinear way. I’ve been exploring aspects of myself that have typically been less a part of my self-image recently. One such aspect is the one who takes the time to look and listen inwardly, who values intuitive knowing and feminine eros, or life force energy. This exploration feels very connected to the inward time we are moving into with the shorter days and longer nights. I wrote about this collage in a recent blogpost. How do you welcome and allow other parts of yourself to come forward? How do you go inside and listen?

Body/Movement. I also had the chance to explore this theme of allowing more of myself to emerge through movement recently. I had a wonderful session with a bodyworker who helped me to include my physical experience instead of trying to push it away. So often when I notice tension or pain, I notice it, and then want to do things to get rid of it. In session, she invited me accept it, allow it, move with it—include it in my felt-experience, rather than look away or ignore it. From this process, a deeper learning emerged. Including more of myself, I feel less one-sided, more full, more whole, more here. You may want to explore a movement impulse and see where it takes you. How does it make you feel to follow it, allow it, be with it? Does it complete itself in some way?

Blessing Reed

Baby Blessing! I absolutely love performing ceremonies that bring more honoring of our intentions and love into the world! This picture is from my most recent Interfaith Baby Blessing for Reed and his family. He was totally into having blessing oil on his forehead and taste of milk on his lips as we welcomed him into his interfaith family with family and friends gathered. A Tibetan blessing for us all: May all beings moving through this world be showered and blessed with goodness and joy. Let me know if I can assist you in honoring any transitions or special moments in your life. You can read more about my practice of ministry.

Winter Solstice Celebration! Come join this contemplative, family-friendly, participatory, Celtic-inspired ritual to mark the turning of the year as the darkness gives way to the growing light. This participatory ritual will include chanting, meditation, candle-lighting, singing, and cauldron jumping. Kids, bring animal masks and hand percussion (rattles, shakers, bells)!

Please contact me if you have any questions. We’d love to have you join us!

Winter Solstice Ritual

Winter Blessings, Katy

Author: Katy Taylor

I am a regular person, like you. I am an earth lover, a seeker, a singer, a gardener, a partner and friend. I have attended a lot of trainings and continue to do my work to grow and deepen and become a more loving person. If you're interested, you can read more about me on the About page.

2 thoughts on “life practices: winter solstice”

  1. This was a very nice reflection. I have never much liked winter. I always dread it. The cold. The dark. Ice. Snow. Slush. Squish squish squish across the melting mess. Maybe I have been looking at it not quite the way I should. This has offered a new perspective, at a time of transition where going inward is probably the right thing to do right now. Squish squish squish across the interior of my own head, looking in dark places, sitting down, resting.


    1. love this, miles! “squish squish squish across the interior of my own head…” i’ll be interested to hear what you find inside the dark places when you let yourself sit down and rest. i’m learning to do the same.


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