Welcoming Winter Solstice: How do you create a simple winter solstice ritual?
Winter solstice is one of my favourite times of the year.
The deep darkness of the longest night of the year blankets the skies, welcoming in stillness and inner reflection.
Winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere starts on December 21st (sorry my Southern Hemisphere friends, yours will be here in June). It marks the first day of winter and the longest night of the year.
What’s the significance of winter solstice? There are many.
On the scientific side of the story it means that each day following winter solstice will be longer. Slowly, gradually, the beautiful sun will grace our skies for more of the day as summer approaches. This was particularly significant in past days when the winter months in the northern hemisphere meant little food. Winter solstice was a marker for the coming relief of warmer weather and greater abundance.
On the mystical side of the story (where I like to dance) the meaning varies by culture, but by and large it symbolizes rebirth. This moment – this pause where we are invited to slow down and sink deep into the depths of night – is a place for reflection and the birthplace of the energy and inspiration that will rise in spring.
This moment – this pause where we are invited to slow down and sink deep into the depths of night – is a place for reflection and the birthplace of the energy and inspiration that will rise in spring.
In celebration of this magical time of year here are five ideas for creating your own winter solstice rituals. These can be done before, during, and after the day of winter solstice and can be incorporated all year long for a greater sense of connection to yourself, to others, and to the environment in which you live.
· Listen. Whether it’s the literal act of listening to your surroundings or the turning inward to hear your own voice, commit to honouring the quiet space that winter gives us so that you can hear the more subtle tones of your life. This may look like a walk in nature
· Feed. As a marker of the turn towards longer days and greater abundance, winter solstice is a time of celebration of the abundance to come. Set aside some time to share food with others, whether it’s inviting your friends and family to gather over candles and cookies or delivering food to a local shelter to share your bounty with others.
· Stillness. Within the depths of the darkness comes an expanse of stillness. As the sun sets welcome in the night in silence. With your eyes closed take a few deep breaths through your nose – envisioning the cleansing air filling all the way down to your toes and then slowly, quietly releasing the stagnant air, beliefs and stories from your being.
· Gratitude + thanks. The acts of gratitude and of giving thanks help to ground us in our present moment and shift our perspective towards acknowledging the many forms of bounty in our lives. Gratitude being the appreciation we feel for the beauty, kindness, and abundance in our lives. Thanks being the act of showing our gratitude. A way you can do this is by writing down all that you are grateful for (I love a good brainstorm) and then choosing two, or three, or more people to express your gratitude either through writing a letter, making a phone call, or having them over for tea.
· Ceremony. You can incorporate the four ideas above into the days before, during, and after winter solstice. [In fact, they're a wonderful practice for the whole year.] You can also tie them into a winter solstice ceremony for yourself or with loved ones. Incorporate candles - one symbolic candle , or a ring of candles with one for each person. Invite stillness and silence, give thanks to someone or something in the past, present, and future, listen to others’ responses, and share nourishing food to symbolize abundance. Use this as a time for connection and reflection.
My own winter solstice ritual includes all of the above, especially the sharing of food and the practice of gratitude and giving of thanks. This year I am particularly grateful for all of the beautiful souls that I’ve welcomed into my life. It has been a definite year of growth and transformation and I sense that the coming year will be the same! As I begin to usher in the new year I’m releasing the stagnant beliefs of everything having to be perfect (key for me this past year has been focusing on progress, not perfection, in my work). I’m releasing the expectation that I need to operate at the level of my mentors and muses – that right off the bat I should have all of ‘the things’ in order before I even step out of the gate. Baby steps, dear grasshopper. Baby steps.
Now I turn it over to you. In this time of rebirth - this release of stagnant stories and beliefs – what are you releasing? What does rebirth look like for you as we move towards ushering in a new year? I would love to hear where you’re at and what you’re craving for more (or less) of moving forward. Respond below in the comment boxes. I read each and every one of them. I can’t wait to read your response and for you to experience the power of thinking about + writing down these stories and cravings. Hitting ‘send’ is the equivalent to releasing it out into the universe.
P.S. Don’t want to share your response? That’s okay! You can also write it down on a piece of paper and either crumple it up into a tight little ball or burn it (safety first, please!).