Winter Solstice is my most favorite Pagan celebration.
(Okay, I may say that about every one of them!)
“Also called Yule, or Midwinter, it is the shortest day and longest night, when the sun enters the sign of Capricorn, heralding the birth of the ‘Infant Sun’ born of the White Lady, after which the days begin to lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere.
We’ve been descending toward this darkest of days since Summer Solstice, when the sun was at its height.
There is so much rich symbolism in the evergreens that we bring into the house at this time, such as Holly, Pine, Fir, and Ivy, plus the essential mistletoe if you live in an area where it can be gathered.
The theme of everlasting life is emblematic in this greenery, but we must be intentional when harvesting, asking permission of the trees and shrubs, as they are guarded by the Fey—sacred wood for sacred Yuletide fires and celebrations.
At Winter Solstice, the life principle wins over the death principle, and we are reminded once more that even in the depths of our shadows, there is always a return to hope and light. Beyond the darkest day, lies increase. The cycles of life reflect so much of the mythical and archetypal themes played out in nature.
I have found that on my most melancholy days if I connect to the wheel of the year and remember that we live a spiral of inextinguishable energy, I can find solace in the promise of tomorrow.
Fire is another central theme of Yule and it has a correlation with our personal lives.
We search for the fire of life within ourselves, and nurture that fire into an alchemy and transformation—which is our sacred work in the world. By working with our own shadows and fears, accepting their role as teachers in our lives, we can build empathy and love for others within our hearts, nurturing compassion for all.”
Here are four questions you can ask at Solstice:
What judgments can I release of myself and others?
What rules can I drop to accommodate how another moves in the world?
What masks can I lay down?
What personal shadows can I accept and even love?
Something else we can do at Solstice is to root down into our personal culture, and see what practices were followed by our near and ancient ancestors.
Here’s something I share in my Wise Woman Mystery School:
In my Slavic tradition, it was customary to bring pine cones, acorns, chestnuts, and evergreen branches into the house to decorate a table or dining hutch with them, adding branches with winter berries found in the field or forest such as hawthorn, rose, or rowan. To this, we would add traditional decorations, such as straw stars or angels, glass baubles, traditional nesting dolls. Although the focus was Christmas, I remember that the winter altar was very sacred and connected to love of the forest and land, and what it provided for us. A tree was usually transplanted from the forest into a bucket with soil, decorated and set on a table then put back in the spring.
>> Cook or bake a traditional recipe that further roots you down. Our own cultures are rich with magic, if we look to them with curiosity.
>> Create a Midwinter Altar that expresses the magic of this season.
This year, the numerical value of the solstice is 11. This is a master number whose core message vibrates around self-mastery, spiritual wisdom, potential, intuition, creativity, compassion, and illumination.
With such an octave reaching the earth at this time, we are magnets for inspiration and manifestation. Harness this energy by setting intentions that reflect your inner truths. Whatever you wish to set into motion now is supported by the frequency of this day until the 24th of December.
Since this is also the beginning of Capricorn Season, we will most likely feel a pull toward self-reflection and evaluation. Resist the urge for glass-half-empty thoughts though—because this is a fortuitous time. Venus is also retrograde in Capricorn until January 29th, with a focus on relationships and beauty. We can set an intention to appreciate more, share more, love more, and take responsibility for the state of our relationships. If you are a cardinal sign of Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn, this Solstice may be a powerful teacher.
Solstice is also very much about surrender. It’s like a big huge sigh that releases the last cycle of light to dark. Consider making a list of burdens you are ready to set down. Sometimes, we carry things for far too long because we had forgotten to check in with ourselves.
For instance, we may have been harboring something against a situation or person, and now the thing is long done and we don’t even care about it anymore, but somewhere, somehow, it has remained tucked in a corner of our heart. It actually does take intention to release things, clear the space, our mind.
This Solstice, take a few moments to jot down a few notes in your journal as it pleases you. Burn some incense, a candle, or a letter to an old habit. Invite the energy of the number 11 to nourish your awareness. What are you creating?
If you’ve been feeling the heaviness of the year, embrace the returning sun and its message of hope. What are you working with on this shortest day of the year?
Solstice love to you, Wise Ones.
PS. Southern Hemisphere experiences Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year on December 21st, and the descent toward darkness begins.