6 Winter Solstice Rituals to Bring You Power During Dark Times
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In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is an annual celebration of the longest and darkest night of the year that dates back as early as the fifth century. Let’s get back in touch with our ancestors and partake in one—or all—of these easy winter solstice rituals.
This time of year is always a major turning point, as each day after the winter solstice brings more sunlight, which is why this celebration is also dubbed “the return of the sun”. The winter solstice marks the moment in which each of the earth’s poles are at their maximum tilt, and this year—on December 21 at exactly 4:47 pm ET—this will occur. In astrology, the winter and summer solstice always take place at the very moment the sun enters a cardinal sign—Capricorn and Cancer respectively. And because cardinal signs are always motivators, movers and go-getters, the winter solstice can be a time of meaningful intention setting.
In Pagan traditions, the winter solstice is also known as “Yule”. This celebration—which happens somewhere between December 20-23, depending on the year—is made up of rituals that focus on the energy of rebirth, transformation, creativity, new beginnings and the release of unwanted habits. Find some of these potent rituals and practices to help you celebrate the winter solstice and make the most of this monumental turning point!
6 Simple Winter Solstice Rituals
Cleanse & Declutter Your Home
As the winter solstice marks a switch from elongating nights into lengthening days, we want to make sure that we are equipped for the vibrant, free-flowing, and positive energy from the sun to reenter our life and our home. Remove any energetic blockages by cleaning out your home, room, closet, vehicle, photo albums, junk drawer, pantry, and anywhere else that you are accumulating stagnant energy with excess “things”. If there isn’t room for it, it has to go! This is the perfect time to donate, re-gift, and sell the things that are no longer needed and find them a new, aligned home.
Decorate Trees With Treats
The winter solstice is a perfect time to decorate a tree, big or small, for our animal friends that live outdoors. As there will be less time to hunt and forage, it would do birds, deer and squirrels well to find a tree decorated with seeds, nuts and apples. You can also bake orange slices and animal-friendly cookies to place upon your offering tree.
Set Your Winter Intentions
Our next solstice celebration won’t be until the first day of Cancer season in June 2023, so allow yourself to take some time to rest, reflect, and write your intentions for the season of growing daylight that lies ahead. Lighting white or red candles, unplugging from technology, breaking out a journal and pen, and taking some time to write your intentions is a great way to honor this long night ahead.
Set Up a Yule altar
‘Tis the season to decorate and bring joy into your home. Use seasonal berries, wreaths, garland, candles, oranges, apples, pinecones, crystals, golden discs to call forth the sunlight, and any other meaningful memorabilia that you have to honor this new season ahead.
Decorate a Yule Wreath
Speaking of wreaths, why not decorate one of your own? Take an evergreen wreath to bring peace and prosperity into your home. Wrap your wreath with natural elements like fir, pine, cedar, yew, holly, mistletoe, juniper, and ivy. It is said in Paganism that pine will bring forth healing, mistletoe brings fertility and love, yew directly aligns to the season of rebirth and transformation, and holly can protect you and your home from negative energy. Once these have all been wound together, you can start to add your own magical touches like small ornaments, winterberries, baby’s breath, and more to bring it all together and make it uniquely yours. Once complete, hang on your front door to commemorate your solstice celebration and encourage others to do the same!
Host or Attend a Yule Feast
Dating back to the fifth century (that’s over 1,500 years ago!) villagers would come together to celebrate the winter solstice with a Yule feast. The practice of feasting before the longest night of the year was meant to make sure that everyone would be able to weather their long, cold sleep. Cooking seasonal produce, filling your home with the scent of spices and herbs, and bringing together loved ones is a way to warm the heart, home, and belly on the solstice. And if you followed step 1, each attendee could bring one of their de-cluttered and re-gifted items wrapped up to have a Yule swap! Encourage one another to dress warmly and cozily to encourage the sensation of the season that is upon us.
Together, we will cheers to a bountiful season and many warmer, longer days ahead of us. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate, but I encourage you to welcome the feeling of celebration into your life, your home, and your heart as often as possible.
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