People think that the ancients celebrated Winter Solstice by lighting huge bonfires to chase away the darkness, because they were afraid of the sun going away, and the Solstice reassured them of its return.
I believe that that is not the whole message. Calling it “a time of pain and withdrawal” misses the deeper experience of the process.
It is gestation, a preoccupation of energy and activity, that makes the bursting forth of manifest life in Springtime possible. So much is going on under the snow, under the earth, within the trees and plants, under the surface. It is the essential part of any creative process, the phase in the cycle of Life with the most potential, the enfolding and turning-in that develops what will become.
And also, Winter Solstice is about the magic, the Spirit that can best be perceived in safe, natural darkness. On a silent, windless, snowy Solstice night, it is the most direct and full experience of the stillness-at-the-center-of-everything. On any still night it can be felt.
Yet on Solstice it fills the world. This Darkness is essential and valuable in itself as well as being the holder of the Light. Let it pervade every cell of your body, every wave of energy of your being. Feel the stillness of the Spirit-point within you vibrating as one with the air, the starlight, candlelight, trees and plants, the earth, the silent, blanketing snow. Drink deeply of it. Recharge your Spirit in the moment of infinite Peace for the winds to come. Revel in all of creation being One - the rich, full, center of Peace.