Home Mind/Body/Spirit In the Bleak Mid Winter

In the Bleak Mid Winter


By Emma Palmer

A note from the editor: We offer slices of Emma’s article, recently published in our Fall 2019 issue, Volume 9 Number 3, online in our Subscribers’ Area today and in our Subscribers’ mailboxes mid-December. Please note that all new articles will return to open source access starting January 1, 2020.

“My Mum recently asked my partner and I what we were doing for
Christmas. I was slightly surprised to find myself announcing that I
was cancelling Christmas this year. Here we were, together in late
summer, celebrating my stepdad’s 70th birthday. I was more than
happy to get together, to mark midwinter, to mark the passing year,
maybe, but I had no desire to mark the 25th December.

The past few years I’ve celebrated Christmas less and less. I still
partake in many of its rituals: card writing, cake-making, present
giving, and watching my nieces in their nativity plays. But Christmas

I have been re-thinking Christmas for a while now.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

I want to mark this time of the year in other ways. I am not a Christian. I do not want to celebrate the birth of Christ, even though I can marvel at parts of its beauty as a story of new life. There are more Buddhists than Christians in my family; yet, there are long-standing traditions I want to uphold, many, of course, with their roots in earth-based pagan traditions that Christianity took on and often altered, sometimes beyond recognition.

I want to decorate the house, bring the light into the darkness as the year turns. I want to send cards to friends I mightn’t see from year to year – I love to send news and to receive theirs. I love that the news is often still handwritten, arriving by ‘snail mail’, which is, in itself, exciting in the age of immediate digital communication and social media. This year I shall finally get organised by designing and sending New Year rather than Christmas cards.

I love cooking for family and friends, so I shall continue to prepare cakes and the odd seasonal feast in the wintery gloom.





Emma Palmer is a relational body psychotherapist,
ecopsychologist, supervisor, and writer. Practising as a therapist since 2003, she is engaged in using therapy skills and contemplative practices in helping to face the realities of climate emergency, our disconnection from nature, and in building more creative, reflective and resilient communities.

Previously a steering group member of Psychotherapist and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, and editor of its Transformations journal, Emma is also a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance.

Author of several journal articles, she has written three books: Meditating with Character, Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind, and Bodywise. Her fourth, a co-edited collection written by therapists in the wake of the #MeToo movement will be published by PCCS Books in 2020. She has been a regular writer for Somatic Psychotherapy Today since 2012.

For 25 years she has worked as a facilitator, from teaching postgraduate international development studies at Bristol University, to working with NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa, offering Wild therapy, and leading retreats – she has been a practicing Buddhist since 1995.