Last Friday, as I sat reflecting on the longest night of the year, the nearly full cold moon peaked in and out of shifting black clouds reminding me of the transpersonal psychology term “dark night of the soul,” or “dark night of the sea,” as Carl Jung referred to it. The term “solstice” comes from Latin “sol” meaning the “sun” and “sistere” meaning “to make stand”. This invitation to stand still, to slow down, to go inward and perhaps explore those places of shadow in our own psyches resonates from this year’s solstice and holiday message. The season began with Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, from December 2nd to 10th, which reminded me of a message of dedication, love and finding light in dark times. And today, as I head into Christmas Eve, with it’s roaring fires, story-telling, feasting and reflecting, I also notice this theme of shifting from darkness into the birth of the light.
One way these themes of dark and light can be interpreted through Jungian psychology is that they represent the deep journey into the subconscious to birth one’s authentic self. Carl Jung was fascinated by the stages of alchemy, which focused on trying to purify and transform substances. He specifically used the alchemical stage of “nigredo” or the blackening of an element by fire to get to it’s most basic part or “prima materia” as a metaphor to explore the psychological process of the dark night of the sea. In the process of facing our disowned self, those places of shame, vulnerability, our outward selves and personal wounds, our courage is like the fire that shines light on the shadow. The “prima materia” of our lives is the acceptance and care of both the light and darkness, the yin and yang of being human, the mud and the lotus which births the authentic self.
As we slowly begin shifting towards longer days in the Northern Hemisphere, the lesson of the holidays and the solstice is still very close. Some ways to explore this inward invitation are to journal about your own shadow material with a tenderness towards your own history. If there are patterns that emerge from this journaling that you would like to shift, perhaps a fire ceremony might serve you. Once again with compassion towards your self, write down behaviors or patterns that you would like to release and then burn those in a fire. Another way to keep the lessons of the dark night near is to spend time before bed without electronics and lights and spend time in meditation, perhaps lighting a candle in dedication to your human journey, to your loving heart. A movement practice,like evening yoga, is another great way to find this inward exploration.
Evening Yoga Offerings at The Louts starting in January:
5:30-6:30PM: Warm Flow Yoga (d)//Caitlin
7:00-8:00PM: Prenatal Yoga(d)//Jenny
6:30-7:30 PM: All Levels Flow Yoga (d) //Megan
5:30-6:30PM: Yoga Flow(ish) //Barbara
6:30-7:30PM: All Levels Warm Flow Yoga (d)//Jenny
5:30-6:30PM: Flow Yoga//Emily (with once a month $5 yoga guest teacher)
-Jamie Anesi (Co-owner of The Lotus, Instructor and Transpersonal Psychotherapist)