Embracing the Darkness: A Solstice Reflection

Winter solstice is finally upon us.

As the days grow shorter and shorter, I know I’m not alone in feeling like following the bears and the toads into hibernation. Can’t I stay in bed today? Can’t I just pull the covers up and let the world pass me by for a while?

Surely for most of human history, the answer would have been a resounding yes.

In the summer months when the light is strong, we are pulled to steady, sustained activity, just like all the other animals and plants. And then in the winter, we have always been allowed to rest.

Now, in the 21st century, we must labor under the fiction that it doesn’t matter what’s happening outside our windows. As long as the power stays on, the cell phones are charged and the gas pumps keep running, we need to keep working at the same frenetic rate, month in and month out, all year round.

IMG_8536Here on the eve of a Winter Solstice combined with a New Moon, I want to take a stand for adjusting our rhythms according to the wheeling of our planet around its sun.

It’s dark now, here in the northern hemisphere; dark, cold and gray. In this weather, we humans have always lounged around our campfires and told each other the stories that keep our creative genius alive.

The advent of writing changed this, of course. With written texts, we could read any time, summer or winter, without waiting for the bard to be in residence and ready to recite.

In these dark days of winter, we need to return to the storytelling traditions of our forefathers and foremothers, but at the same time we should take care about what kinds of stories we’re listening to. Are we listening to stories that can inspire courage, hope, and greatness in ourselves and our young people? Or are we wasting our time with mindless, repetitive horror and nihilism?

What stories are you and your children listening to in these darkest days of winter? What stories are you living? What are you doing with these precious dark dreaming days?


My suggestion is to dive down deep into the darkness. Don’t hide from it. Don’t let the mind games of electricity persuade you to pretend that the Solstice doesn’t matter.

Sun and moon, earth and stars, cold and ice, bare branches and still boulders. Now is your time, and our time to get to know you.

Slowly, slowly, the days will grow longer.

For now, let us give the dark its due. Let us embrace the quiet, introspective time the Solstice encourages. Let us meet with like-minded souls to raise a glass to the joys of darkness—and the eventual return of the light.

Photos c. J. Browdy 2014

Leave a comment


  1. Jennifer, Not only is this a lovely piece of writing, but the message is so important for us all to consider. I often lament the decline of storytelling in our culture, and yet wonder if blogs can help us revive this art form that binds humans together.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 21, 2014

      Thanks, Diane! I do think that technology is helping more of us to communicate, and spreading our stories far and wide. But there is a danger of superficiality and supersaturation of information that works against creativity and deep thinking. I worry when I see kids, including my own, who don’t know how to just sit and daydream! Even I have to work at resisting the impulse to constantly check my various devices. Winter solstice seems like a good time to chill out, literally, and let the dreams and stories buried in our unconscious awaken.

      • Yes, the impact of technology on our youth frightens me too. One of my sons would much rather be out birding and daydreaming, but the younger one needs to be pried away. Over Thanksgiving, a storm knocked out our power for 24 hours, so we sat in front of the fireplace and told stories. It was the best holiday in ages! Happy holidays to you.

  2. This is so lovely! Thank you for the poignant reminders!

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 21, 2014

      I bet this is the first time in human history when we have to be reminded to dream!

  3. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  December 21, 2014

    Indeed, the blessing of free time with no electricity! It’s a bit scary to think of how driven we are by our technology. It’s supposed to be the other way around. Happy holidays to you too, Diane!

  4. May we all have the opportunity to find the light within!

  5. I know that spot! Beautiful post. xo S


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