I live in Chicago and it’s cold for 5 months out of the year. The darktime in the northern US is long. Our nights begin around 4:30pm in Winter. The days are cold and most of the time there is a snow storm sure to come. After a few winters, believe it or not, you get used to it. As long as you bundle up you will be fine walking through snow filled sidewalks and taking on any winter breeze coming your way. We rarely see the sun during the dark days. It’s almost always gloomy and the few days that the sun shines through are truly glorious occasions. Many of us long for spring and we count the days until Mother Earth awakens from her slumber. But there is magick and power in the dark times of winter.
During the light time of Spring and Summer we celebrate life and the abundance of the earth, but the Winter holds it’s magick as well. As we know, from Samhain until Ostara the world around us seems to die. The cities are still hustle and bustling with people going about their daily routines, but if you live in the countryside all seems quiet and can seem quite desolate. As we celebrate life in the summer months, so too, should we celebrate the quiet and dead times of the winter. The winter holds many spirits that we should take the time to honor and learn from. One of the biggest things I enjoy doing in the winter months is to honor the gods of the ancestors. Goddesses such as Persephanie, Hecate, and Hel have much to teach us about our ancestors and our own mortality. When we work with goddesses of death and the ancestors they are able to teach us how to connect with our beloved dead. There is much power by connecting with the ancestors.
Another thing I enjoy doing at this time of year is to venture our into a desolate natural area and commune with the spirits there. Have you ever gone into the snow filled woods and connected to the spirits? It always fills my spirit with wonder and magick to go into the woods and establish relationships with the winter spirits. I have found that the spirits are very active because there is little human traffic through these natural areas. This is also a wonderful time to connect with the forest animals. The trees and shrubs are bare and it is far easier to see animals looking for food or just enjoying the winter day. When you approach the animals do so with humility and caution. They are not used to seeing people during these gloomy days and they will often watch you to make sure you are not there to cause them harm. I never get too close to them out of respect. This is their wood and their home. I will open my heart chakra and radiate the energy of love, compassion, and healing. Animals can sense our energies so when I do this they don’t find me threatening. Most of the time the animals I connect with in my local park or forest preserve are deer, racoons, foxes, birds, and rabbits. One way to connect with them is to gently send energy from your heart chakra. Sometimes, they may send energy back to extend a greeting. I may then speak with them through my heart and leave a small offering for them.
There are many long nights in winter. The nightly winds can be brutal and I often seek the comfort of my warm home and the cuddles of cats. The dark night has healing power of its own. This is the time for magical solitude in the darkness. The darkness can help us go within our own mind and spirit and discover much wisdom and power. I find myself lighting a single candle in the dark and asking my gods and spirits to show me what I need to heal. I ask them to show me in a spirit journey the areas of my life that I need to address and take care of. I will also ask them to help me find the wisdom to heal my spirit and to show me the best way for me to do so. I then close my eyes and visualize my gods and spirits showing me the path on which I need to follow to discover the healing power for myself.
One of the more powerful things I will do, is ask my spirits to help me work on my shadow. I have found that the spirits will remind you of things that you have long forgotten. Things that we have put aside for another day. The dark nights of winter are a good opportunity to address things that linger in the shadow mind. I also ask the spirits to guide me through my shadow work in a way that is balancing and healing and to be patient with me when I don’t understand certain things about my path and myself. Then I ask them to send me healing energy so I can process the shadow in a way that is good and right for all concerned.
The winter has much magick and power if we take the time to go within and reflect on its energies. As the warm days teach us the magick of life so, too, does the cold days of winter teach us the magick of the dark and of the dead time. Winter magick can be challenging, but through practice and patience with ourselves we will discover the power of the dark days.