This time of year, when the darkness overshadows the light, we are drawn inward, naturally, like bears in hibernation. Just like bears, we have the impulse to curl up, stay inside, stay warm, fatten up and SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP. Many of us fight this urge, staying busy and working extra hard to make the holidays special for our families. What if we gave in to our natural inclination for rest and regeneration? What would be possible for us if we let ourselves sit and reflect over the past year, to gather up our lessons and strength. I imagine this is how it should be, so that we have the strength and wisdom to forge into the new year like a new birth. If we listen to the cycle of the seasons, we hear this guidance clearly.
In the majority of cultures the days and nights surrounding the winter solstice hold a special power and divinatory magic. This timeless energy has to do with the moving of nature and the human soul from the dark night into the increasing light. It is said that there are 12 nights, during this time, that can offer profound insights through dreams. After consulting many sources, I found that there are two twelve night periods indicated, starting and ending on different days. The first period starts on the Winter Solstice (the 21st of December) or the longest night of the year and ending on the New Year (January 1st). Intuitively, this period seems extremely important and useful for self reflection, starting on the darkest and longest night (representing the innermost, constricted point in the year) and ending when a new start is officially upon us. The second period starts on Christmas Eve (December 24th) and ends on January 6th. Either way, our inner being should be listened to and heeded during this whole winter season.
It serves us during this time to pay extra attention to our inner life through dreams. Many ancient cultures (including and especially pagan culture, indigenous and Native American tribes) honored the profound wisdom of dreaming during these specific winter nights. Traditionally dreams would be shared amongst families and communities each morning. Together the group would draw out the significance of each dream though acting them out, discussion, and interpretation. The wisdom found in the dreams of the people were then applied in a real way, often through ritual and sometimes direct action for the good of the community or the person/people involved. It is said that these dreams held particular prophetic power and that the dream of each night corresponds to a particular month in the coming year (December 21st = January, December 22nd = February, etc.).
I encourage you to listen to the call of the season, do not resist the urge to turn in during these long, cold winter nights, but take advantage of the wisdom they have to offer. Go the extra mile to set an intention before bed by saying to yourself (in your head, out loud, or written down) something like “Tonight I am open to receive guidance and wisdom in my dreams. I will wake up remembering the important details of these divine messages.” Or, even something more simple, “Tonight my dreams will show my what I need to see (and I will remember with accuracy).” Points for rhyming!
I can’t wait to hear what you remember from these important dreaming nights.