Friday, June 22, 2007

Winter Solstice

A cold breeze flies up the river valley. But this is Brisbane where the chill factor is relative. It's not really cold. But it is windy. For most of the time since I have been here the wind has been almost absent. A ruffle here, a flash there but the wind has not whipped up waves on the river, not until now and then perhaps they are only in my imagination, or in the wash of a passing boat. A couple of south-west windy days has knocked down trees, blown leaves off trees, and given the impression that this is winter. A rainless winter.

Last night on the radio I heard a discussion about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, that is suffered by people in dark long winters. It causes them depression and a feeling reminiscent of the sense of dark. That's why in England for instance the coming of the sun is worshipped. At Stonehenge 20,000 people brought in the dawn with ritual and revelling. The long darks nights will make way for the summer, growth and harvest.

Ecopsychologist Susan Brelin-Becchio uses the framework of the ever-revolving changing seasons as a metaphor and lesson for life. Through her seasonal-psychological-ecological process, she shows how the earth and its life-giving/death-bringing processes deliver a pattern for personal enrichment which is bound in the soil, in the movement of the tides and breath of the wind. She calls her practice Deep Elemental Ecology and states that: 'All the Seasons are reflective of our own inner world.' (2003).

In terms of the solstice for the southern hemisphere, Brelin-Becchio continues: 'Winter is the time to reflect more deeply on these inner roots, taking a moment to consider where the instability lies, and how to strengthen and balance these foundational patterns in order for them to be able to support an outward movement and vision come Spring and Summer. Time perhaps to re-educate old, long-held belief patterns and to prepare to embrace the newness of Spring with buoyancy, enthusiasm, and innocence.'

This is the reflection for the turning seasons, the ebb and flow of shade and light, a reconsideration and reframing of the long held beliefs, in this society at least, that we are distant from nature. And yet the day-night nuances of the winter solstice, and the suffering, especially of those in the northern hemisphere who endure the wintery wonderland, show that our bodies respond to the seasons, both as metaphors and literally when they are affected by the well-named seasonal affective disorder or 'sad'. The Solstices are celebrated through the body as if the body wakes up with the light, stretches into spring, delights in the turning wheel of birth, growth, mid-life, death and rebirth, and all the while dancing with joyful thanks.

The river today shone with winter glory. The sky was radiant. SAD was a long way away. And the river is waiting for rain.

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Brelin-Becchio S, 2003, Deep Elemental Ecology, Gatherings, 8, August,