Winter solstice is upon us in the northern hemisphere, so is the darkest day of the year. This is a spiritual time for so many cultures. It has been believed that on this day, the moon goddess gave birth to the sun, because after today we will see more light, day by, day until Spring.
As the kids and I watched “The last Jedi” last night in preparation for the final Star Wars movie release, I thought beyond the popularity of movie releases around the winter holidays. There is probably a deeper meaning relating to the battle between the Jedi and the dark side and the fluidity between light and dark.
In China, winter solstice is considered the day of ‘extreme yin’. Yin is represented by going inward, darkness, cold and quiet (feminine) only to be followed by the birth of the yang energy. Yang is represented by outward, lightness, warmth and energy (masculine). The yin yang symbol is a perfect example of how as one grows the other diminishes like a wave, but that there is always yin within yang and vice versa, creating a balance in all things.
Winter Solstice & Chinese Herbal Medicine
Pertaining to Chinese medicine, there is a story about Zhang Zhongjing (150-219), the Han Dynasty physician. He is the author of the famous Classical Chinese herbal text the “Shang Han Lun“ from where many of my favorite herbal formulae stem.
One year, when he returned home from his duties as an officer, he saw people in the cold winter weather suffering from cold, red and painful ears (chilblains.) He created a home remedy of lamb soup with hot pepper and Chinese herbs, wrapped into a flour “dumpling” and fed them to the people. So the tradition goes that by eating this ‘ear like’ food, the people in his village got well and now the tradition during winter solstice festival in parts of China is to eat dumplings to avoid getting frozen ears in the winter!
Whatever you celebrate or choose to do this season, I wish you well and hope that it is peaceful and harmonious. Take the time to reflect in the darkness even for just a few minutes during a time when there is a quietness in the energy surrounding us. And may the force be with you!