life practices: winter solstice 2013

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.

Winter Solstice RitualWinter Solstice occurs this year on December 21st at 11:11 am 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.

But first we have to make it through the Winter! Fall’s inward turning is the gateway to the deep surrender into Winter’s dark mystery. It can be a little confusing that we first have to make it through a bunch of celebrations—Thanksgiving at the end of Fall and then Christmas and New Year’s at the beginning of Winter, events that ask us to be more social and outer-directed—when nature is slowing down, releasing, and dropping her energy into the earth…

Nature herself can be a steady companion for this transition into Winter. Most trees are stripped naked, down to their skeletons, allowing their simplicity, their bare bones to be seen. Plants are dead or in deep dormancy. This is what we, too, are invited into. What would it be like to drop our external ways of knowing ourselves—the face we show to the world—and to simply be ourselves, with no frills, no airs, and nothing to hide? What if we allowed unnecessary parts of ourselves to die or go dormant? Underneath our smiles, our helpfulness, our good ideas, our appropriate clothes, who are we anyway? This inquiry is Winter’s invitation to dive deeper into the mysterious dark, the great unknown, “the dark hours of [our] being” (Rilke).

Here’s a starting place for a journal exploration, or a short ritual alone or with friends:

  • In the dark, naming this intention: “I am ready and willing to drop into the dark hours of my being.” With each breath in the dark, feel yourself rooting down, dropping your energy into the earth, like the dormant trees and plants, dropping into “the dark hours of [your] being.”
  • When you are ready, light a single candle. As you take that light in, feel back into your connection with the earth, with the fertile darkness of your being.
  • Name out loud or in your journal the parts of yourself you would like to drop, to allow to go dormant, to rest for awhile.
  • Then name out loud or in your journal who you might be without these self-images, behaviors, or activities. Who is resting in the dark hours of your being?
  • When you are done, acknowledge your gratefulness for this inward time of listening and being, and blow out the candle.

Please join us for the Winter Solstice Celebration on December 21st at 7:30 pm at Unity Church Unitarian in the Parish Hall. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.

Advent Singing Meditation image larger Advent Singing Meditation. As we transition from Fall to Winter and continue our inward turning, I invite you to gather one more Friday evening with me to deepen your Advent journey with sacred chant and silent prayer/meditation. Learn and sing music from Hildegard of Bingen and from the Gaelic tradition. No prior singing experience necessary. Suggested donation $5-$10 per session.

Friday, December 20th, from 5:15-6:15 pm, at Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel atrium, 1890 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul

Singing Meditation will also be offered during the Easter season. More Information: Jennifer Tacheny, (651) 696-2872, Hosted by the CSJ Membership and Association Offices (Celeste’s Dream, Consociate Services, and Sister Membership).

Is music a part of your life? Try singing alone, with others, or even with a recording and then dissolving into silence. What do you notice?

Katy & Amy MirabilisWelcome Brigid—Mirabilis in Concert on St. Brigid’s Day, February 1st! In ancient Irish mythology, Brigid is the Celtic fire goddess representing the aspect of divine femininity.  Her feast day, February 1st, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and marks the start of Celtic Spring. Come celebrate with me and my singing partner, Amy Fradon, the early signs of returning spring!

We will perform original, Gaelic, and medieval chant and song that weaves Celtic ornamentation with haunting, mystical chant and prayer. Specializing in the music of Hildegard von Bingen, a capella and simply accompanied, Katy and Amy’s purity of tone and musical depth inspires and transports. Includes some participatory singing.

Community Potluck at 5:30; Concert at 7:00. Admission is $15, pay at the door. For more information, contact Carla at (763) 479-4396 or

We will also be singing all three services at Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul on Sunday, February 2nd, and may be offering a concert in the Twin Cities Friday, January 31st as well, TBA.

A few love notes from audience members: “Thank you for an incredible evening. You really have the ability and power to bless—truly bless people with love and spirit through your song, voice, and music.”

Your angelic voices blended so well that I was in a special odyssey of sound. I love your spiritual Celtic melodic harmony of prayer ad gratitude to the Big Boss, whoever! May your work continue to lighten the hearts of many earthly souls.

with azaleaThe Enneagram is one of the main maps of the soul Dave and I find helpful to understand the unfolding of our lives, individually and as a couple. It is an amazing system that helps us to see the deeper, purer roots of our behavior—how most of our less savory behaviors are simply misguided attempts to reconnect with a more loving, whole, and good self.

Dave and I are facilitating an Introduction to the Riso-Hudson Spiritual Enneagram on February 8th from 1:00-5:00 pm at The Well in St. Paul, and a Couple’s Retreat March 7th-9th at our favorite B&B, Journey Inn, in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.

Introduction to the Riso-Hudson Spiritual Enneagram. Ever wonder why the types have the specific traits they do? Or why our traits can look so different when we are under stress? How come the types seem to want such different things from life? What can the Centers teach us about type? If you’’re new to the Enneagram or just want to explore the Riso-Hudson Approach, join us for an afternoon overview of the types that emphasizes their spiritual roots and natural unfoldment. Includes teaching, exercises, music, and poetry. Fee: $75, with $10 off if first time at the Well, or if you bring a friend, or for early registration by 1/27/14. More information and register here.

Cultivating Deeper Contact: A Retreat/Workshop for Couples. Even in a relationship grounded in love and open communication, we often yearn for deeper contact with each other. The Enneagram illuminates many of the structures that stand in the way of such contact, as well as others that actually invite us toward a deeper contact with ourselves, each other, and the moment. Early registration (by January 15th) is $600 per couple, and after that, $650. For more information, see our calendar. We hope you can join us!

What maps of the soul do you find useful? Do you spend time with your soul, honoring his/her rhythms, thus learning to more deeply support your own  psycho-spiritual growth?

A Poem for the Season: Before Jesus by Alla Renée Bozarth
Before Jesus
was his mother.

Before supper
in the upper room,
breakfast in the barn.

Before the Passover Feast,
a feeding trough.
And here, the altar
of Earth, fair linens
of hay and seed.

Before his cry,
her cry.
Before his sweat
of blood,
her bleeding
and tears.
Before his offering,

Before the breaking
of bread and death,
the breaking of her
body in birth.

Before the offering
of the cup,
the offering of her
Before his blood,
her blood.

And by her body and blood
alone, his body and blood
and whole human being.

The wise ones knelt
to hear the woman’s word
in wonder.

Holding up her sacred child,
her spark of God in the form of a babe,
she said:

“Receive and let
your hearts be healed
and your lives be filled
with love, for
This is my body,
This is my blood.”

Deep Winter Blessings, Katy

practice loving kindness

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.

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