WINTER PRACTICES
 

Ah, winter! Here you are, embracing us with your quietly blanketing darkness, cold and silence. Like a little recurring death, coming around every year.
I only recently experienced the joy of winter. It is a quiet joy, for winter does not indulge in grand gestures and does not charm like the rays of the sun. Winter can be rough and wild; wet and grey, glimmeringly white and beautiful. Many of our winged, finned and multi-legged comrades have either already migrated to milder places or are conserving their energies and going into hibernation.
Those of us who go on two legs, on the other hand, still have access to both food and heat. For us, winter can be enjoyed in its own right, becoming more than simply a season to be overcome. We are so (culturally) conditioned to regarding darkness as dangerous or even evil, but darkness can feel safe and enveloping. Especially if you practice seeing it that way. Now is the best time to be introverted and experience a sense of peace.
Winter has many qualities. I find these particularly important: Silence – darkness – rest – mystery – death. My best advice is: Surrender yourself to it.

WALKING AND SILENCE

The slow pace of a long walk is a beautiful way of moving into or out of the darkness, into the sunrise, into the low-hanging sun, into the twilight or all the way into the deepest, darkest darkness.
Try to silence yourself along the way, slow the eternally grinding gears of the mind, and listen instead to your footsteps, the birds, the rustlings in the undergrowth. Lean your head back, enjoy the starry sky and the benevolent moon.

 

WELCOMING THE GLOAMING

 

Welcoming the gloaming is an ancient Nordic ritual. Here the darkness is revered and honoured as it quietly rolls up, marking the end of the activities of the day. In the twilight hour, try sitting down comfortably and switch off all electric lights. You can light candles instead. Sit there in silence or share stories with your loved ones and enjoy the dark as it washes over you.

REST

Before we had electricity, the workday stopped at sunset. Now we can be productive around the clock, making stress a constant companion. Taking a nap on the sofa is deeply unproductive – and you cannot buy or consume anything while you do. In this sense, resting is a form of anti-capitalist activism. The entire natural world rests to conserve energy. You should allow yourself to do the same.

MYSTERY

Darkness veils and obscures, allowing a sense of mystery and enigma to spread. Tell, listen to or read stories. Look at your own dark sides and be caring and forgiving.

 

DEATH 

Winter is also a time of big gatherings, making it extra clear who is missing around the table. Death, loss, grief and winter belong together.
As you are of course aware, the plant world looks very dead at the moment. But make no mistake. All the power has been drawn down into the roots. Life will return. It feels like a miracle every single year.
Plant roots are full of nourishing power, and you can make a warming chai from them, such as stinging nettle root and/or dandelion root. Winter is a perfect time for self-care!
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TITLES

Dr. John Francis on What Grows in Silence, for the wild, 2020 / Podcast
"From that place of silence comes the opportunity to be with everything." After witnessing an oil spill near San Francisco in 1971, Dr John Francis decided to stop using any means of transport based on the use of fossil fuels. A promise he kept for twenty-two years. He also decided to spend seventeen years living in silence. Listen to this lovely interview with him.

 
Anti-arbejde! Afmonterer kapitalismen! Sig dit job op!, Poptillægget, Politiken, 2021 / Podcast

Anti-Work is a radical version of taking an afternoon nap in protest. A good podcast about the growing Anti-Work movement, which is interesting on several levels. Not least in terms of not letting work define your entire identity. Perhaps the labour market and working conditions will look completely different a decade from now?

Andrea Hejlskov, VØLVE, Forlaget Uro, 2021 / Book
This book is a magical act, written by a woman who is not afraid of the dark nor of rewilding herself.
 
The Confessional, Nadia Bolz-Weber, 2020 - 21 / Podcast 

It may be helpful to listen to tales of the dark sides of others and hearing what forgiveness can sound like. In the podcast The Confessional, the guest on each episode tells a deep, dark secret to host Nadia Bolz-Weber, who concludes the show with the most beautiful prayer for forgiveness.

Robert Macfarlane, Underland, Hamish Hamilton, 2019 / Book​

A fantastical journey with a skilled communicator guiding you down into the underworld – quite literally. The book is an introduction to all that lies hidden beneath the earth’s surface, where darkness reigns: caves, catacombs, glaciers and more.

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetian Book on Living and Dying, HarperCollins, 1992 / Book

These insights into life and death, written by a Tibetan Buddhist, helped me during a process of mourning.