winter solstice rituals


You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
                                         -David Whyte

 
Winter Solstice -- the shortest day of the year -- is Thursday. 

“Solstice” comes from two Latin words: sol meaning "sun" and sistere meaning “to stand still.” It's the longest night of the year, where the sun seems to stand still.

After the solstice, our half of the earth (in the Northern Hemisphere) begins to tilt toward the sun again, and we round the corner back to lengthening days and the "rebirth" of the sun. (National Geographic explains the science of the solstice.)

People throughout history have celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of hope, promise, rebirth, and the ongoing cycles of life. Monuments, tombs and temples have been constructed to celebrate and capture the solstice light since as early as 3200 B.C.E.

So what does "celebrating the solstice" mean?

You can find some beautiful ideas here, but it doesn't have to be elaborate. 

Anything that is done with your full attention, presence and personal meaning can remind you that we are all part of a larger order.

Consider these suggestions from CircleSanctuary.org.

  • Make a wreath with evergreens, which is said to symbolize the continuity of life, protection, and prosperity.
  • Build a circle of candlelight, one for each person present, and then blow them out and sit together in the darkness for a few moments offering gratitude. Then light one central, larger candle to symbolize your unity over the coming year.
  • Ring a collection of bells at sunrise and sunset.
  • Offer seeds to winter birds and other outdoor creatures.


Other simple ideas include:

  • Visit a place outdoors that is special to you.
  • Make a list of loving wishes for the people in your life.
  • Make a point to watch the sunrise or sunset.
  • Spend a dedicated amount of time in silence.
  • Offer a prayer of gratitude for the dark and faith in the light.
  • Purge or declutter a room or corner, simplifying and bringing more clarity and light.
  • Spend some time talking with a loved one or friend about your dreams for the coming year.

Regardless of your spiritual heritage, the solstice can be celebrated as a way to remember our place in nature and the cyclical ways of life. Especially this year, we can also lean on and gain strength from the promise of returning light.

In this time of cultural busyness, give yourself the gift of a few quiet moments. Even just a simple breath.

In sweet darkness...
Michelle
 

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
-David Whyte