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Life is full of ups and downs, and winter has traditionally been somewhat of a bummer for me.
The seemingly endless cold nights, paired with missing long lost loved ones during the holidays, and lack of garden fresh vegetables have normally found me lying in a heap of tears on my living room floor.
But years of practicing these winter solstice rituals have taught me how to adore the pivotal change that winter brings. And now I’ve actually come to love the darkness that folds in around us as we approach the solstice.
Here are my (once) top secret winter solstice rituals that I use to welcome love and light into my life:
10. Greet the morning sun.
Wake up bright and early in time for the sunrise. Bundle up and step outside to greet the waking sun. I like to light a stick of incense and say, “Let us give thanks for a beautiful new day.”
9. Drink warm turmeric milk.
Drinking warm turmeric milk boosts our immune system, elevates our mood, and warms us from within.
For one serving you will need:
1 cup milk or milk alternative
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar (depending on desired sweetness)
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (or a few cardamom pods)
pinch of powdered ginger or small piece of grated ginger root
dash of vanilla extract
dash of black pepper or black peppercorns
1 finely chopped date
pinch of cloves (if desired)
pinch of allspice (if desired)
strainer or sieve
1) Heat the milk on the stove. When the milk becomes warm, add turmeric powder. Stir slowly to dissolve any lumps. The liquid will take on a rich, mustard color.
2) Add the honey, ginger root, vanilla, and spices.
3) Heat the pot gently for a few minutes.
4) Pour the milk through a tea strainer to remove the ginger root, cardamom, and pepper. (The turmeric can be a bit grainy too.)
5) Enjoy! All ingredients can be adjusted for individual tastes.
8. Practice gratitude for the balance of dark and light.
While standing outdoors, breathe in the cold winter air. Hold your left palm upward, look at it and say, “I give thanks for the cold, dark, and restful days of winter.” Then hold your right palm upward and say, “I give thanks for the forthcoming summer and the person I am becoming.” Then bring your palms together in prayer position. Raise them to your third eye saying, “I honor the varied rhythms of Mother Nature.” Bring your pressed together palms to heart center saying, “I honor the dark and light inside of myself.” Then bow in gratitude.
7. Practice random acts of kindness.
When we do a good deed for someone, we are inviting the abundance of kindness into our own lives. My favorite kind gestures are to smile and say hello to strangers, leave $1 bills in random places for people to find, or put sticky notes with love messages on mirrors in public restrooms. The best thing about practicing random acts of kindness is that we can creatively put our own personal spin on how we carry it out. There are limitless possibilities.
6. Light a candle in honor of a loved one who is not present.
Sometimes we are unable to spend time with the people we love the most. They may be far away, or maybe they are no longer alive. But the love we feel for them is definitely real and powerful.
I like to use sabbath candles because I can buy them at the grocery store, they are inexpensive, and they are white.
When I light my candle, I visualize my loved one or look at a nearby photo of them, and I say, “I send you all my love and light.” Then I let the candle burn down all the way.
5. Prepare a homemade meal of winter squash.
Winter squash is a storehouse of the sunlight energy and nutrients from the long summer days. We can easily harness this magic of summer and use it to nourish ourselves on an otherwise chilly and gloomy winter day.
I like to cut my winter squash in half, remove the seeds, oil liberally, and cook facedown in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. I salt and pepper to taste and sometimes add a bit of fresh maple syrup. Yum!
4. Watch the sunset.
Sungazing is the spiritual practice of gazing directly at the sun. This can safely be done for a few moments when the sun touches the horizon at sunset or sunrise. I like to say a little ritual farewell to the sun: “Good evening hot sun. Hasta manana. Thank you for what has been a beautiful day.”
3. Perform a cleansing fire.
Put an iron skillet on a baking cooling rack on the kitchen floor. In the skillet, put one cup of Epsom salts and one cup of rubbing alcohol. I like to set an intention and say, “I invite love and light into my home. I invite love and light into my life.” Then light the alcohol on fire. As you watch the flames magically dance and leap, envision love and light entering your life. Sit near the fire, and watch until it naturally burns out.
Afterward, don’t touch the skillet for awhile as it will be hotter than you’d imagine.
Enjoy the fresh ocean breeze-like fragrance wafting through your home. And as an added bonus, grab a broom and your favorite natural cleaning products and get to work. Somehow, the cleansing created by the fire moves the energy around the house with surprising quickness, and it makes doing housework super easy. No joke! And it provides a brilliant boost of energy to do the chores.
2. Let go of a troublesome burden.
On a scrap of paper, write down something in your life that you’d like to let go of. Step outdoors and burn the paper. Watch your troubles go up in flames. Take a deep cleansing breath.
1. Make a wish.
May the naturally magical energy of the winter solstice surround you this season.