Bare Feet on an Earth Path

What I Find In the Winter

   Everywhere I look lately, I see snow. We’ve been enveloped by winter lately, and I’ve begun to dream of the time when spring will finally come and I can head to the park with my journal and tarot cards. I used to have this vision of myself heading outdoors and communing with nature all winter long. Just taking regular walks and checking in with the unique energies of the season. “A blizzard, you say? Sounds like an amazing opportunity to learn about the harsher aspects of Mother Nature!” Only, that’s not what I say. I say, “Oh  God, it’s cold. I’m staying inside forever!” On the rare occasion that I bundle myself up and head to the park in freezing temperatures, I’ll admit that it’s nice for the short time it lasts, before I find myself back in my heated car letting my face slowly thaw out. But I’m starting to realize that my tendency to stay inside doesn’t keep me from practicing my pagan spirituality like I used to think it did. In fact, my desire to hide under blankets until spring is pretty reminiscent of the people whose agricultural festivals our modern pagan sabbats are based on.

Winter was a time to stay in and wait out the harsh weather and, while the work we do may not be dependent on nice weather, some things don’t change. Besides resembling what our ancestors were doing at this time of the year, the desire to stay inside can actually teach us a lot about the season’s symbolism. Looking at the Wheel of the Year in terms of duality, the spring and summer represent looking outward, going out into the world and creating.  The fall and winter are times of looking within, reflecting and taking stock.  A lot of times when I think of looking within at this time, I think of improving myself and growing in wisdom. Those are important, but there’s something else I’ve been forgetting. I can find the Divine by looking inside. The year isn’t divided up into the half where we connect with the Divine and the half where the Divine is MIA. The possibility of that connection is always there. When I think that I have to go outside to connect with the Divine, I’m forgetting something fundamental to my path: the Divine is in everything, including me.

For me, finding the Divine by looking within is harder than finding the peace that comes so easily outdoors. The winter pushes me to discover the truth that I can easily say in words, but less easily experience. It pushes me to forget all the distractions of everything I do, even if just for a moment, and look to that quiet place deep inside where the Divine is always present. To that place where I simply am, whatever I do or don’t do. Experiencing it could be as simple as a moment of stillness in my candlelit yoga studio, in between trying to remember to keep my butt toward the ceiling in Downward Dog. It doesn’t have to smack me over the head like a revelation. Maybe it’s a little quieter in the winter, like the snow-covered world outside. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s there, waiting to be found.

It doesn’t matter so much how you find it, only that you try. One way that I like is by doing a Higher Self meditation for guidance in the bathtub. It might seem kind of weird, but when I can’t seem to just sit still anywhere else to meditate, the bathtub works because it’s so relaxing! So I bring a notebook to sit next to the tub, light a candle for ambiance, and still myself. I breathe in and out a few times, and then ask my Higher Self a question; any question. I wait, and inevitably, wisdom comes. I grab my notebook to write down what I don’t want to forget.

Another type of meditation I like to do is to hold a candle and gaze at it, breathing in and out. I imagine that I’m stretching out into the vast Universe, stretching and stretching to touch the Divine that is at the center of everything. When I do, peace washes over me. You can stretch as many times as you like, or imagine that that the Divine is stretching to you, or that you’re meeting in the middle. What happens in that place?

Tarot is yet another way. Doing a simple spread about a situation we find ourselves in can give us wisdom to help see the situation in a new way. Whether we believe that the answers come from outside or inside of ourselves, if we believe that both contain the Divine, then it’s still a way of connecting.

Ways of connecting with the Divine within are unlimited. They aren’t always stereotypical, and they don’t have to be meditative. I’d say I find aspects of the Divine when I’m listening to music, dancing in front of my bedroom mirror.  I find it in the conversation with my friend where we both opened up the deepest places of ourselves, in the love I share with my husband, and in the joy I feel when I curl up in bed with a book. So let this winter be a time to remember that the Divine isn’t just found in bird songs and trees. There are also so many ways to find it inside of us.