Long before there was Black Friday and Christmas savings accounts, there was the pagan celebration of winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is the turning point when the sun begins to return and the days grow longer.
Many of the traditions now associated with December filtered down through the centuries from nature-based communities and indigenous people. I decided to find my own quiet way to observe this turning point in the natural cycle of life.
I am fascinated by the concept of cycles – life moving in cycles that have a beginning, middle and end; cycles that are ongoing and ever-present.
In Celebrate the Solstice, Richard Heinberg writes that “wisdom consists in knowing one’s place in any given cycle, and what kinds of action (or restraint of action) are appropriate for that phase.”
The origins of the winter solstice celebration can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. The winter solstice marks the beginning of days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in.
The winter solstice is a turning point, an opportunity to contemplate, observe change and make decisions for the coming season. I want to prepare for more positive energy. I want to let go of the stale and make room for the fresh. I want to create a winter solstice celebration that feeds my soul.
Create a space for your celebration
The winter solstice is a cycle of nature, a reminder of birth and death, growing and waning. Where would you like to be for your winter solstice celebration? Where would be a meaningful place?
A walk in nature would be good, depending on the climate. Listening to the sounds of nature, feeling the texture of the air on your skin, feeling the call of nature around you.
I’m going to make an altar – one containing items from nature that remind me of the constantly changing cycles and the natural ebb and flow of life. I honor the need of a cycle, the hibernation, the tucking in to replenish myself.
I have feathers that birds have dropped in my garden. I honor their freedom and ability to fly.
I may add some of the loose hair I comb from my cat in celebration of the companionship and affection we share.
I work with the energy of rocks and crystals every day. Their energy nurtures and balances me. I will select those that further the goals of my winter solstice ceremony.
An altar needs light – for expectation, reassurance and hope. I’ll use candles, light box crystals, essential oils, whatever calls to me.
Treasured words that offer guidance will be on my altar, words from me, from an author I admire, feedback that guides my path, ideas that touch my heart and make me think. Choose meaningful items of renewal for your winter solstice celebration
This is a celebration of the end of the dark night of withdrawal and the beginning of an expanding period of light. What will you put on your winter solstice altar?
Set goals for your winter solstice celebration
My three goals are – review, re-choose and reposition.
Review the past year
I began reviewing my year as early as November because that is the month of my birthday and a natural time of reflection for me.
Whether I use a mind map or a journal or a chart on my computer, I will reflect on the past year and seek to understand its lessons. I will observe how I’ve changed, what I’ve learned, and what new opportunities have presented themselves.
It helps to acknowledge what I accomplished, and make new choices based on what I now know.
I’m not going to keep a lot of stuff from the past year. This is like moving, you are creating a new home for the coming year. What do you what to take with you and what are you willing to leave behind?
What do I need to release? Beliefs that no longer serve me. Friend who are not moving in the same direction as me. Habits that are detrimental to my health or well-being. So, list what would be good to leave behind, examine your willingness to do so and release as much as you can.
What do I need to replenish? From this moment in time, what do you need more of? I had to find an entire new tribe in the past year. I need to find more sources of philosophical conversations and discussions. I need to up level my self-care program. How can I achieve better balance?
What do you need to release, replenish and re-choose?
A whole new year lies ahead. You are different now from who you were this time last year. You have changed, you know more, you have experienced more, your calling has deepened as you went exploring. How do you want to reposition yourself and what will that look and feel like?
I have chosen my three guiding words for the coming year. I have modified my mission statement and rewritten my bio to more clearly define myself. I am not making specific plans, I am making myself more receptive and flexible and responsive to what shows up.
What if I spent the day in silence, listening, feeling, thinking, observing? That would help me attune my senses to the subtle changes and cycles within myself.
How will I celebrate this change in this cycle of nature? The upcoming changes in me? How will I prepare myself, open myself, make myself aware that this is a day of change and renewal?
Perhaps I mindfully prepare a healthy meal and eat it in silence and gratitude.
I may chant or sing or read words that have special meaning to me.
I could vision.
I will meditate.
I will probably mind map.
I may write a poem.
I could share the ceremony with a friend.
I may get up at sunrise or look up the exact moment the solstice changes and match my ceremony with the clock. I may just hold my ceremony when I feel it’s time.
Look upon the winter solstice as a turning point
Whenever, however, I honor the day of the winter solstice around the 21st of December, I want to use it to move more deeply into my feelings of being filled with Tao, Spirit, the All That Is. It is an opportunity to appreciate what I have received, open myself to a deeper understanding of my passion and my purpose, to be more present and flexible, and teach myself to be more open to the unfolding opportunities that will appear in the coming year.
How will you make the winter solstice into a turning point for you?
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