5 Rituals to Celebrate the Winter Solstice
As we approach the shortest and darkest day of the year, winter solstice, it’s a good idea to spend some time addressing the items that are cluttering our psyches. Never fear, as this process is necessary. Just as the trees and flowers go through the cycles of death and rebirth throughout the year, we go through more psychological versions of these cycles. In astrology, the seasons, equinoxes and solstices represent this psychological process. An equinox represents when day and night are equal length, while a solstice represents the point in time when the sun reaches its most northerly or southerly point in the sky.
The cycle starts with the spring equinox in the sign of Aries. Aries represents birth, the start of a new cycle. In spring, we see the physical evidence of this with animals coming out of hibernation and the seeds of plants being planted. Wherever you see Aries in your chart, this is where you are meant to initiate, to take bold and new steps into the unknown.
This trend continues through Taurus, where we are anticipate the seeds we planted starting to manifest and start to tend to those seeds. As we move through Gemini, we start to adjust however necessary to ensure those seeds bloom, thinking creatively to battle whatever comes our way. When the summer solstice arrives in the sign of Cancer, the need to protect all that has been given to us comes up. The seeds have manifested into things more magical than anticipated and it is our duty to tend and nurture them. We then proudly display the fruits of our labor (Leo) and then meticulously organize and prepare for the future, busy ourselves for the upcoming darkness (Virgo).
Soon enough, the sun enters Libra, where we arrive at the fall equinox to make our journey through the darkness. Daylight becomes shorter and we begin to venture more deeply into ourselves. Just like the plants begin to die, their bodies gracefully returning to the earth, we go through a time period of our egos receding, attempting to make room for others. We go through transformation, first understanding our relationships with others (Libra), then exploring the murky water of our shadows (Scorpio) prohibiting us to merge fully and finally starting to explore the beliefs that drive us (Sagittarius). A short time later, when we arrive at Capricorn and the winter solstice, we are encouraged to celebrate the rebirth of life. This marks the shortest day of the year and from this point forward, daylight will grow in length, we will finally march towards warmth.
This is the time of letting go of all that holds us back, integrating all that we learned in the dark while we explored our shadows. We look at our fears with determination to surpass them (Capricorn), we push boundaries looking to revolutionize our world (Aquarius) and then commune with all that is, realizing fully that we are an intricate part of everything (Pisces). We can now have hope for the new cycle coming our way. With that said, for the winter solstice or Yule, there are some fun rituals to explore to help you celebrate your own rebirth and these are a couple of my favorites.
Similar to spring cleaning, winter cleaning helps you to let go of the old in order to make room for the new to enter your life. If you have a bunch of junk around the house, this is the optimum time to clear it away! Pagans refer to this as a Yule Cleansing Ritual. Remove items that you feel no longer serve your higher purpose or items that are distracting you from focusing on the things most important to you.
Cleanse Your Space
Bust out the sage for this ritual! I like to walk around my home with a white smudge sage bundle requesting energies that do not belong to me away. You’ll find me smudging my doorways and windows for extra benefit while quietly asking anything in my home that is not of my higher purpose to leave. I love to use holidays like this one as a reminder that it needs to be done.
To buy: Cleansing Sage Kit, $15.00
Donate Your Stuff
Now that you’ve cleansed and cleared out your space, the winter solstice is a perfect time to donate your gently used goods to those less fortunate than you. Among many traditions, including paganism, Christianity, Islam, etc, donating to others is an important part of service. If you no longer have use for something, what better way to show the Universe you are happy to create room for sharing with others.
Cleanse Your Bod
Taking a salt bath infused with some of the herbs associated with Yule makes for a great way to celebrate the solstice! Some herbs you can use are pine, evergreens, ivy, holly, mistletoe, birch, oak, yew, frankincense and myrrh. As you soak or scrub, imagine that all your troubles are being absorbed by the water and salt, being scrubbed away from you.
Light a Candle
Once your space and body has been cleansed, and you’ve given away some of your gifts to others, one way to commence your celebrating is with a little candle ritual. Try lighting some gold and green candles, and spend some time reflecting on the past year. Feel free to write whatever comes up down, as this helps you to process, let go and invite some newness into your life. Did you accomplish all of the things you had hoped? What was missing? What turned out better than you anticipated? Are you feeling connected with your higher purpose? What are some ways you strengthened your connection this year? What are some ways you diminished this connection? What do you want to let go? What are some things you want to create in the upcoming cycle? Finally, as always express your gratitude for what’s to come, as all you have goaled is already yours.
Shereen Campbell is an astrologer, ecommerce manager, and the founder of My Little Magic Shop. She loves sailing, southern Italian food, and all things magical.
Photos: via Unsplash