Blessed Solstice everyone! Winter Solstice, also referred to as Alban Arthan is a truly magical time of year, it’s a time for quiet, for reflection and for magic. Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night and at Yule we celebrate the beginning of longer days and the rebirth of the sun. At the heart of all the stories, folklore and imagery associated with this time of year is the concept that there will be light again after the dark. Connecting to the Celtic wheel of the year by honouring the 8 sabbats, helps us to understand the cyclic nature of life. Winter time can be a difficult time of year for people for lots of different reasons, taking a moment to pause at the Winter Solstice and remember that there will be light again and that life is by it’s very nature transient can help us to find peace, calm and comfort during tough times. Many of the traditions associated with Yule continue to this day and we might find it surprising that things like bringing evergreens into the home, crafting wreaths and Yule logs all have pagan roots.
The tradition of bringing evergreen plants into the home was to help people stay connected to nature and nature spirits during the dark and biting cold winter months. Wreaths were created with specially chosen herbs and plants, were blessed and then placed on the door and within the home to offer protection. Mistletoe is believed to have healing and protective qualities as well as representing fertility, Holly was used for protection against harmful spirits and Ivy represents immortality.
The Winter Solstice is a quiet time of year where nature sleeps, many animals are hibernating, the trees are bare and seeds lie under the soil, full of potential and promise and some are yet to even be planted. Solstice means ‘standstill’, and it’s wonderful to connect to this ancient festival and carve out some time for stillness and quiet reflection. Winter Solstice is a time where we get to look back on the year and reflect on the lessons we’ve learnt, the relationships we’ve cultivated, the things that haven’t worked out and to count our blessings. This year we can reflect on an entire decade if we choose as we are heading into a brand new decade next year.
December nowadays is rife with busyness, expectations and stress, internally our body knows that this is a time for rest and nourishment yet externally we are expected to meet work deadlines, attend parties, battle through bugs and illnesses and do all of this whilst maintaining a ‘holly jolly’ attitude. It’s no wonder we get to January and often feel exhausted and burnt out and are then faced with all the marketing pressures to detox and live our best life for the upcoming new year. Turning away from the fast paced pressures of modern society and taking inspiration from our ancient roots can help to bring us back to ourselves and to create our own calm.
A simple Yule ritual
One of the simplest ways to celebrate Yule is with candle magic. Choose a candle
that is either white, gold or ivory and set it somewhere where it’s safe. You might
like to decorate your candle or place it in a bowl with items that symbolise this
time of year such as pine cones, spruce, cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices,
just make sure this is done in a way where nothing is in danger of catching on
fire! Sit down in front of your candle, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
- if you prefer you can hold the candle between your hands. Before lighting your
candle, infuse it with your intentions for the coming months, if you’re not sure what
those look like yet you can simply dedicate to the light - light within you and light
around you. Part of Yule is wishing for peace and happiness for others too so take
a moment to wish your loved ones peace, light and well-being. Open your eyes
and mindfully light your candle, as you watch the flame taking shape focus on your
wishes and intentions. Either leave your candle to burn out completely or extinguish
with a candle snuffer, try not to blow the candle out.
Winter Solstice Journalling Prompts
Journalling is a wonderful winter time activity as it’s really in harmony with the reflective qualities of this season. Here are a few guiding questions to help you get connect the magic of Midwinter:
- Winter is a time for dreaming, storytelling and for magic, how could you welcome this into your life over the next couple of months?
- What’s your relationship to rest? Do you let yourself rest in the winter or do you push through tiredness and illness? How could you make space for rest? What can wait for the warmer months?
- Create a reading list for the next few months
- Winter is a time we need warmth and light, energetically speaking what is going to keep you warm and light this winter?
- Looking back on the last decade, what are you grateful for? What are you most proud of? What have been your biggest lessons?
- What mental habits are you wanting to break free from as you head into 2020?
- What are your hopes and dreams for next year
Winter provides the ideal opportunity to create a staycation! A staycation is where you do the kinds of things you would give yourself permission to do on holiday such as cradling a cup of tea whilst looking out at the landscape, reading for hours on end, having sleep ins and early nights, playing board games, eating nourishing food that you've taken time to prepare, painting or drawing and listening to audio books. The joy of a staycation is doing all of this from the comfort of your home...which is perfect in the winter time. Boundaries are important during a staycation, so limiting time on social media like you would do on holiday and packing away anything that reminds you of work or daily life chores. It's so important to invest in rest over the winter months to really give back to your mind, body and soul!
"It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture that views exhaustion as a status symbol." - Brene Brown
Winter Solstice Essential Oils
Try this blend of essential oils in either a body oil or in a diffuser. It really captures the releasing and peaceful qualities of winter:
Clary Sage 1 drop
Lavender 1 drop
Cedarwood 1 drop
Juniper Berry 1 drop
Roman chamomile 1 drop
25ml carrier oil
Clary Sage 1 drop
Lavender 4 drop
Cedarwood 3 drop
Juniper Berry 2 drop
Roman chamomile 2 drop
Make time for Magic
Winter has long been associated with magic, fairytales and wonder. The quiet and cosy winter months can be a time to really feed your imagination as a way to fuel your projects and plans for next year but also because it is good for the soul! Stock up on fairytale books, watch movies that take you on adventures and get lost in folklore. Winter is also a time associated with dreaming, a perfect time to start keeping a dream journal and developing your intuition.
Wishing you all a blessed Solstice, tomorrow the sun enters Capricorn and we begin Capricorn season. We are also entering the dark phase of the moon so go gently with yourself, the combination of the shortest day and the dark phase of the lunar cycle is a double whammy on top of already being tired in the lead up to Christmas. Self-care, rest and nourishment is key. Take care moonbeams x