Winter solstice approaches. The moment when darkening days turn to days filled with moments more of light.
Solstice comes from the Latin 'sol' meaning sun and 'sistere' meaning standing still. In the Northern hemisphere, the days are their shortest. The sun is in its southmost position, and chill sets in on this first day of winter. The nights stretch long, enveloping us with velvet dark skies.
Across many cultures, the winter solstice marks a time for rest and rejuvenation. The harvest is complete, and ice and snow cover the ground. Now is a time for gathering with loved ones, reflecting on the year that has past, and preparing the body, mind and spirit to sew and reap bounty in the coming season.
Winter solstice is also a time for inviting in the light, and calling forth warmth and energy to imbue our hearts with the ascension of hope. This time of year has a long tradition of profound ritual.
This winter solstice, craft your own simple ritual to create space for renewal and welcome the light.
Spend time outside. A few days before the solstice, experience the light and the darkness. Wake in time for sunrise, step out of your office to witness the sunset. Draw or journal to note the quality of the fading of day into night, or the passing of night into day.
Gather that which gives energy. On the morning of solstice, greet the breaking of the light. Unless, that is, you live above the Arctic Circle and the sun does not yet crest above the horizon. If you live in a northern clime, wake with intention towards the changing light, for it is most certainly coming. After bringing your awareness and greeting to the sun, gather objects that encourage energy, and create a small altar near your place of sleep. Perhaps a staff of selenite, to remove energy blocks and promotes deep rest. A sprig of balsam fir (the classic Yule tree) helps to purify the home, and promote progress, even rebirth. Take time to acknowledge the importance of rest in order to grow into the possibility of the coming year.
Connect with those you love, and who love you. In this transitional time, become attune to the energies of those around you. On the day and night of the solstice surround yourself with beings and experiences that promote well-being and joy. Gather a few dear ones for tea, or a warm beverage. Sit by a fire or a lit candle. There is no need for an agenda for this coming together other than simply being together. As winter sets it, the importance of gathering with loved ones grows. Those loved beings warm our hearts and spirits, and help restore our souls. Now is the time to establish patterns and ways of being that manifest authenticity. Be sure to clear yourself of what does not serve you by directing your energy towards rest. Contemporary culture calls us towards frenzy. On the solstice especially avoid such anxieties and pressures. Instead take time to acknowledge who and what brings you towards peace, and towards yourself. Conclude the day connecting with yourself through meditation or journaled reflection. Your appreciation for your own spirit will carry you through the cold and allow you to relish both the darkness and the light.
by Hilda Morley
A cold night crosses
The world appears
very large, very
round now extending
far as the moon does
It is from
the moon this cold travels
the light of the moon that causes
this night reflecting distance in its own
light so coldly
(from one side of
the earth to the other)
It is the length of this coldness
It is the long distance
between two points which are
not in a line now
straight) but a curve only,
silver that is a rock reflecting
but a rock accepting
(a scream in silence
where between the two
points what touches
is a curve around the world
(the dance unmoving).