Drawing Down the Sun for Seasonal Depression by Stacy M. Porter
The darker months of the year, autumn and winter, are as cold as they are mysterious. This time of year, when the nights are longer and death surrounds us, is when we are meant to grieve, reflect, and turn inward. We mourn life as the trees lose their vibrant leaves. We reflect on the past year and all we have experienced. And we turn inward to work on ourselves and learn from everything that has happened.
I actually love autumn. I love bringing out my hoodies and sweatpants, my fuzzy socks and cute scarves. I love pumpkin spice lattes and vegetable soups and broths. I love curling up on the couch with a good book or spending hours binge-watching my favorite shows, not feeling any guilt because it is far too cold for me to even step outside. I also love the first snow. It is beautiful and sparkly. It makes me think of the faeries, as I believe they are the ones who meticulously craft each snowflake to be truly unique.
However, the cold months of the year lose their charm, at least for me, after a while. My muscles are stiff, my body aches, and my mood slumps. I get a bit of cabin fever, which spirals into the winter blues. Physically, this is because our bodies aren’t receiving the same nutrients from the Sun because of the Earth’s position in the cosmos. We have moved farther away from the Sun, out of reach of its warm embrace.
And, to be honest, the snow doesn’t seem as pretty anymore once you have had to dig your way out of your house a dozen times. It turns all brown and gross from car fumes. And we’ve all fallen because of ice at least once in our lives, right? After all that, we are all ready to kick winter to the curb. Sadly though, winter seems to cling and drag on. At least, that’s how it feels to me sometimes.
Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that can occur annually for a lot of people, generally starting in the fall and lasting all the way through winter, leaving them feeling drained, moody, and generally low. We all have a bit of darkness in us. It’s a shadow that makes us human, able to experience everything that this life on earth has to offer. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The shadow is sadness, grief, and anger. It might not be fun, but I know from experience that we cannot truly be in the light without first knowing the dark. One cannot exist without the other, as is the balance of life. However, that doesn’t mean that we should bask in it. Being sad all of the time isn’t healthy. And being happy all the time could be considered annoying. It’s all about balance.
The problem starts when the darkness seeps in, pooling in us. It starts like a drizzle, a soft rain that just touches our skin, but it can gather in a puddle and overflow into an ocean, making us feel like we’re drowning. This is when the shadow, when sadness, becomes depression. This is when we start to feel lost and numb, worthless and alone. This is when we need the Sun more than ever. It seems out of our reach during the darker months of the year, but I can assure you that the Sun is still there, shining for us all. We just have to invite it into our lives. That may seem oversimplified, but all magic in this world starts with an intention. Almost everyone has heard of drawing down the Moon. That is when we invoke the Goddess and align with her, her message, and her powers by basking in the light of the Moon (usually the Full Moon, when she is at her most powerful). This is a sacred practice, but there is another practice that is often forgotten about that is just as meaningful. Drawing down the Sun invokes the God, the bright and brilliant Sun. By standing in his light, even when it looks or feels dim during the fall and winter, we are inviting the courage, passion, and warmth of the Sun into our bodies and circle. We are inviting his strength, resilience, and hope into our lives when we need it the most during these dark times.
Drawing Down the Sun Ritual
Before You Start
Many people practice drawing down the Sun in partnership with drawing down the Moon. It can be done during a ritual, particularly during a sabbat, by the coven’s priest. However, I think it’s equally important to have your own personal experience with the Lord and Lady, with the Sun and the Moon. Since we are using this ritual as a way to recharge ourselves during the dark times of the year, this ritual can be very personal. I have designed this version of drawing down the Sun to be rather informal and special. You can definitely wear your pajamas while performing it, or you can dress up. It all depends on how you feel and what needs you have.
There are two times to best perform this ritual. You could do it while sipping your morning tea or coffee while the Sun is rising. This energy is about renewal and transformation. It’s the perfect time to set new intentions or to help you wake up, open your eyes, and finally see the world around you, as seasonal depression often makes everything feel weird and distant. You can also perform the ritual around noon or 3:00 p.m., when the Sun has reached its peak and is at its strongest. This energy packs a powerful punch: this is the hottest time of the day, so the Sun is more prominent and relevant in your environment. It’s the perfect time for cleansing, healing, and igniting a fire within yourself. Because it’s so hot—because you can actually feel the Sun’s warmth at this time—it will help remind you that you still have that same fire, that same light within you.
Whenever you draw down the Sun, no matter the time, know that the ritual is a way to empower the body, mind, and spirit. This time of year, when seasonal depression is clinging to our lives, we feel like we’re standing in a field of fog, unable to see or move. But the Sun is literally what breaks through fog. It clears the path and ignites the soul. So don’t worry too much about trying to align with the cosmos or sacred times. Good intention really does mean something, with any type of magic.
It’s best to perform this ritual outside, so there’s nothing between you and the Sun. However, if that’s not an option, you can always find a window to stand in front of. Just make sure that the Sun is in your path. Stand so that you can see it and so that its light is also shining on you.
When You’re Ready
Find a place you feel comfortable, where you are in direct visual and physical contact with the Sun. You can light a candle or draw a circle. Prepare however you feel is best for you and your needs, whether that means brewing a cup of tea or coffee so that you can feel heat in your palms or calling the quarters and making this a big and beautiful ceremony. Nothing is right or wrong here.
Standing in the Sun, keep your eyes open. Trace the design that the rays of sunshine are making in the sky without gazing directly into the Sun. Let your creative mind take over. Watch as the golden light dances through the sky and visualize it making its way straight to you. Once the light has made it toward you, close your eyes and imagine it literally wrapping around you, embracing you in its golden warmth.
The light will dance around you, getting stronger, until it completely surrounds you in a comfortable, safe, and secure cocoon. Then, your skin will begin to absorb that energy until you are completely made up of light.
Feel that energy fill your body, mind, and soul and let it take over for a moment. Forget life and responsibility. Instead, let the Divine Masculine be the voice in your head for a moment. Let that energy be your conscious, your instinct, and your guide. You might receive a message, words or a visual, but mostly you will be gifted with feeling. You are safe, you are warm, and you are loved in this moment.
Take as long as you need, whether it’s a few seconds or an hour, simply breathing into that light, making it stronger and more vibrant. Let the light cleanse the darkness inside you, let the light chase away the shadows, and let the light offer you comfort and joy. It will make you stronger, so long as you embrace it.
When you are ready, open your eyes again and watch as the Sun expands out of your skin and dances into the air around you, warming the earth and lighting up your life.
The light is not leaving you, for the light you saw and felt was already there. You were just bringing your attention to it, remembering it, and honoring it.
Take a deep breath and feel your shoulders relax as your body, mind, and soul strengthen with passion and heat. Thank the Lord, thank the Divine, and thank the universe for this day. If you have tea or coffee, pour a little bit on the earth as an offering. Then, release your quarters and circle, if you drew them, and go on about your day knowing you can call on the light you found whenever you need it. After you’re finished, I recommend having something to eat to help you ground.
You can practice this small guided meditation every day, every Sunday, or just whenever you feel the need.
My personal practice of drawing down the Sun is strongly influenced by a practice referred to as sungazing. Sungazing is a very ancient practice and has been found, in some way or another, in almost every culture all over the world. Sungazing is meant to supercharge the brain, to activate our brain cells so that we can reach our highest potentials as humans. By doing this, we can heal the body, uplift the spirit, and raise our vibration to literally become one with the divine energy all around us.
Traditionally, the safe sungazing hours are in the hour before sunrise and in the hour after sunset. Staring at the Sun will damage your eyes, so be cautious when attempting this exercise. The first time you gaze into the Sun, you do so for twenty seconds. Then you add ten seconds every day after that. This is when we stand barefoot before the Sun and gaze into the light to find healing, transcendence, and divinity without anything separating us (windows, glasses, etc.) from the Divine. It’s meant to be a daily practice for nine-month periods, but I have heard that everyone who tries to do this practice, no matter how regularly or irregularly, finds some kind of success. It’s all about the intention and how much belief you have within the practice.
Whether you practice drawing down the Sun, sungazing, or a mixture of the two, you are tapping into a sacred energy that will ignite something very sacred inside you. You are telling the universe that you are willing to show up for yourself and you are telling the Sacred Divine that you are showing up for them. Everyone and everything is connected. Once you open your heart to the Divine, they will open their arms to you. Sometimes you just need to take the first step and open your eyes to the light. And sometimes something as simple as opening your eyes can be just what you need to remember that you are the light.