Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Embracing the Silence

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
— Chinese proverb

When I was many years younger, I used to be hit hard by what later came to be known as SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. As Autumn proceeded from its kaleidoscopic colors into rusts and browns, and finally into Winter’s endless grays, my own spirits would slump accordingly. As the days grew darker, my moods followed along, bringing bouts of tears, withdrawal, and lethargy. By the time I crawled into late February, I would often be struggling with outright despair.

But, thankfully, that changed. Perhaps, it was in part that I fell in love with a man who truly revels in the cold time of year. And maybe as I got older, my hormonal changes helped. But the truth is that, long before I was perimenopausal, my Autumns and Winters were beginning to pass without loss of emotional equilibrium.

Was it just coincidence that this shift was in synch with the deepening of my Pagan spiritual practice? As I attuned myself to the seasons of the Earth, and embraced the cycles of life and death, growth and surrender, rather than dreading the darkening of the year, I learned to love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not attributing SAD and the suffering its victims undergo as being an easy fix – just “convert” to Witchcraft! (Ha! As if there could be such a thing!) I am well aware that for many people, it is a very painful and serious problem.

But I wonder if there could be any correlation between SAD and our culture’s insistence that we ignore the natural waxing and waning of the light. Could winter depression be exacerbated by our refusal to allow ourselves, in the ways we might individually need to, to harmonize with the rhythms of the seasons?

Our civilization demands that we perform at highly productive levels year-round. Somehow this reminds me of the factory farm practice in which the lights in laying sheds are controlled to maximize egg production. This practice is considered by some to be animal cruelty. But isn’t it just as unnatural and possibly harmful for us? Is it wise to demand of ourselves that we must function at unwavering levels, no matter if our bodies and spirits say otherwise?

At least for myself, the more I have reduced my demands on myself in Winter, allowing myself some fallow time for rest, the less distraught I have been. The more I have understood and absorbed the gifts of the dark time of the year, the less I have felt the “wintertime blues.” I am blessed that I no longer want to bask in front of a light box, in order to stay amped-up at Summertime levels.

Instead, I seek the beauty of the short days, I am grateful for the cold winds, and I embrace the silence. Nature Herself teaches us how to live in rhythm, and by following Her guidance, we might, in fact, be much less sad.

More tomorrow.

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  • January 15, 2009, 9:27 pm Shell

    I love winter especially since my birthday is around this time. There is a different rhythm to Winter. You have to get in her groove to enjoy the season. If not, you do get into Winter blues.

  • January 16, 2009, 7:36 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Email me your postal mailing address and date of birth, Shell, and I’ll add you to my Birthday Club! You’ll get a (free!) Tarot treat every year.

    And whenever it is, Happy Birthday!
    – Beth

  • January 18, 2009, 5:23 pm Anonymous

    I read this with interest.
    I’ve suffered terribly this year – your comments gave me hope. I have been praying for this winter to end…

  • January 19, 2009, 11:24 am Rossa

    I picked up on your piece from Lynn’s Astro Musings. I’m a winter baby, also my birthday in a couple of weeks. I was 3 weeks late so would have been born by now as a Capricorn rather than Aquarian. My Mum says I waited til the snow had all gone!

    I often wonder if when you were born in the year helps with how you cope with that particular time of year. I love Autumn/Winter, wrapping up warmly, open fires, comforting hot food.

    Also being fair skinned and a red head with freckles, it’s my natural state as summer isn’t my friend. Can’t go out for long without burning or slathered in sunblock. Never had a tan in 50 years!

    Also my family “inheritance” is Scottish from the Isle of Skye way up in the cold North, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, so it must be in the blood as well. Maybe I’m just more in tune with the rhythm at this time and dance to that beat of death and renewal again.

    Happy Birthday to all who have them at this time.