I love solstice times when nature is changing and reminding you how beautiful to be alive.
When it is solstice time, I slow down and take my time for special rituals, In this post, I am sharing with you a comprehensive guide about the winter solstice. Enjoy!
What does Solstice mean?
Solstice is the time of the year at which the sun reaches its maximum or minimum declination. At the solstices (summer and winter solstice), the angle between the rays of the Sun and the plane of the Earth’s equator reaches its maximum value of 23,5°.
As a result of this declination in Earth, we experience the longest and the shortest days, depending on which Hemisphere we are living in. The dates are around 21st of June and 21st of December, changing each year (could be 20, 21, 22 or 23rd of December) so good idea to check.
The word solstice means ‘standstill’. Sun stands still as the movement of the Sun’s daily path (as seen from Earth) pauses at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction.
Around the 21st of December, which is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be the longest night, since that day until the 21st of June, the nights will become shorter and the days will become longer.
What do you do at a Solstice?
The first thing I do when the time of Solstice is getting closer is to connect to witness. To be receptive to feel nature and the universe. Feel the difference and the changes that are happening in Mother Earth which is my home.
I have many rituals that I practice during the winter solstice that I will be sharing with you in this blog post.
Why is the Winter Solstice so important?
I acknowledge the cycles of life as a reminder to me. As being human and part of nature, my life experience is also composed of cycles.
I am living in a small city by the sea. I am working from home mostly in front of the computer. Even though we try to be as much as we can with nature via trekking, picnics, parks, etc. still am not every day in touch with the land, if we do not count my lovely plants on my terrace.
I am not putting seeds in the hearth of land; not waiting for rain and sun to nourish my seed. I do not harvest. I do not hunt.
This reality brings me the need to have a reminder that life is made of cycles. Life is a journey with its ups and downs, with its winter and summer, its day and night. Life is a reality with its birth and death.
In the middle of this life, here I am, a human, with my shadows and light, with my ups and downs.
Remembering this fact brings acceptance, brings a sense of relaxation that all is well, all is as it is meant to be.
Therefore, solstices are particularly important to me. They are marked in my calendars to slow down. Solstices are an invitation to come here and now so that I can reflect and take time to celebrate.
What does the winter solstice mean to pagans?
Throughout human history, the winter solstice has been celebrated by many cultures around the world.
The main symbol of this celebration has always been welcoming in the new sun; the turning of the sun.
Celebration of the days slowly getting longer, lighter days to come. Honoring the return of the light after the longest night of the year has been the main reason for these celebrations.
Winter solstice is the time of the year with the awareness for the dance of the opposites. It is time for embracing the dark and celebrating the light as dark and light cannot exist without each other.
Is Yule and winter solstice the same?
Winter solstice is what happens these dates as a relation of Earth and Sun and the Yule is the celebration for Pre-Christians because of the winter solstice. Pre-Christian Scandinavians spent 12 days celebrating the rebirth of the sun during the Feast of Juul, or Yule.
You will find it interesting to see the commonalities with the celebrations of the Christmas of today. Check in the blog here.
What are the traditions of Winter Solstice?
- Celebration of the Sun Rise
Celebrations on this day of the astronomical event were starting with the celebration of the sunrise. Marking the rising of the sun on the shortest day of the year.
People were coming together to celebrate the sun. In Stonehenge still, many people come together for big celebrations in the morning of the winter solstice.
- Gathering Around the Yule Log
Finding the Yule log, bringing it home, and burning it, was a full ritual in itself.
Imagine all the family in the woods looking for a big part of a tree. A tree that will help you to honor the light and embrace the dark these days of the winter solstice.
A big part of a tree will help to soften the hard conditions of the winter.
In the old times, all the family was choosing the tree that they would burn at home these days and they were carefully bringing it home.
The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire and the rest of it would be there in the room. The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log which was carefully stored away. Each day for 12 days the log would be burning and a part of it would be separated for the next year. All this ritual was carried out by someone with clean hands they say. I guess meaning a person with good intentions.
- Traditional Winter Solstice Decorations
Traditionally people used many plants to decorate their doors and windows. Evergreen was one of them. As their names say so, they are evergreen, which makes them symbolically important to ward off death and destruction.
- Celebrate with Family and Friends
Winter solstice time was an important point for people to reflect, make peace, and celebrate. Celebration with loved ones means good food and drink, music, and dance, as always.
Winter solstice ritual ideas
From whichever religious or spiritual walks, you are coming from, it is still a good idea to consider slowing down at the time of winter solstice.
What better day than the longest night of the year to settle in and encourage yourself for inner reflection, making peace, and celebration?
Below, I have prepared several ritual ideas for having a great Winter Solstice. If you are reading this it is never just a coincidence. Just give it a try. Connect to your soul and the One.
It is time of the year to show our awe to Life. So how to honor the winter solstice?
1. Celebrate the light
This is the sunrise of the day with the longest night. It is a day full of symbols. Solstices have been celebrated throughout all human history by our ancestors in some way.
In Life, there are two realities. One that our eyes see and the other one that can not be seen. This non-seen one is mostly described as being behind a veil.
Our ancestors believed that at these special times of the year, the solstice times, these veils become so thin that the unseen can be seen.
Start this special day, early with a special celebration. Witness the sunrise and waking up of Life.
2. Take time to create your sacred space
Where you live is your sacred space. The place where you can find yourself again and again. This place needs to be safe, beautiful (whatever beauty means and feels for you), and reflects you.
In winter solstice, give some special touch to your sacred space
Decorate it with plants and flowers
Make an evergreen yule wreath as protection from death and destruction and hang it to your door
Create a Yule Altar at your home with candles, flowers, plants, and those objects that symbolize death and rebirth.
3. Winter solstice cleansing ritual
It is the time of a new start. Open your windows. Make the fresh air comes in and purify.
If you have a fireplace at home, prepare it from early morning. Fire is one of the best purifiers. If not, consider having candles around home all day.
These are the ways I use at my home as a cleansing ritual.
- Fire and smell: I use mostly sage and palo santo and sometimes incense,
- Sound: My voice, egg shakers, tuning fork,
- Visualization: I get the help of colors for this, will explain more below.
You can see the details here
Finally consider purifying your body, mind, and soul with a nice winter solstice bath. Prepare a great self-care bath for you and enjoy.
4. Connect with nature
Feel the changes in nature. Listen and witness. Slow down. Be here and now. Having a silent walk in nature is a great ritual for the winter solstice.
Winter solstice is a great time to reflect on your life path, all the key events in your life that brought you to where you are now.
Before I wrote about two different self-reflection exercises. You can get guidance from there. You can see Tree of Life, here and River of Life, here.
6. Embrace the dark
As Rumi said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” In the dark, we begin to realize the light. It is only if we can embrace our darkness, we can give place to a new rebirth.
Winter solstice is the perfect time after reflecting, permitting letting go.
I just finished listening to the book by Louise Hay and Robert Holden called Life Loves You. There they had a forgiveness practice called forgiveness scale which they were invited to do once a day for 7 days and live the experience. It is great for embracing the dark in the winter solstice. You can see the ritual and more about forgiving here
7. Refresh & Renew
So, you reflected, you embraced the dark and let go of your past via forgiveness, now is the time to change. The magic in the air of the winter solstice will make it easier to do so.
It is a great time to dream for the new and believing that those dreams can come true. You can get the help of my vision board guideline to facilitation your dreaming during winter solstice rituals.
8. Pray full-heartedly and meditate
Now it is the time for sending blessings to yourself and others. Time to pray. Pray full-heartedly. You can write your prayer or improvise your prayer or enjoy the beautiful winter solstice prayer that I am sharing for you:
Winter Solstice Blessings
May the longest night and the shortest day
Bring rest to your mind and soul
May you find guidance and may you find peace
As the cycle of light will slowly increase
Embrace the magic that the darkness bears
Breathe deep in the chill
And shift in the air
May you always be blessed with the light from within
And may well-being be yours as the new cycle begins.
9. Celebration mood
What a magical day it has been. You started your new day with the rise of the sun, then created your sacred space and cleaned the energy in there and in your body, mind, and soul. You connected with nature, reflected, embraced the dark, and dream of a bright future, and prayed.
Now it is time for celebration, as always with good food, good music, and dance and with loved ones.
10. Winter solstice food
What do you eat on the winter solstice?
- Earthy food is great for the winter solstice. Cook with seasonal vegetables some food with love and good intentions. A hot soup can warm your winter solstice night. Fruits will add abundance to your table. Hot wines, some nuts.
- Eat mindfully with your loved ones.
- Pay attention to make your dinner table beautiful. Use your tablecloths and cotton napkins, some flowers, and candles. Enjoy the process.
- Acknowledge the importance of the day before starting your meal and send appreciation for all those foods that you enjoy.
That is all. You are ready to go for a magical day. Enjoy it and let me know how it goes. Happy winter solstice everybody!
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Rituals Board!