When winter approaches I typically find myself in a constant state of excitement and stress. Stress as I try to make plans with my family for the holidays, striving to make sure everyone is happy. Excitement for the cozy sweaters and soft music in the mornings, seeing all the people I love in one place and the barrage of holidays to celebrate in a short amount of time. (If you know me my birthday counts as a holiday, I’m just saying!) But each year I try to spend more attention on the things that are enriching instead of “door-busters” and Black Friday sales. I prefer to give homemade gifts and make big meals with my partner for our favorite people.
However more recently I’ve been embracing the coming winter and what it offers me spiritually, by being still, specifically on December 21st, the Winter Solstice.
We all know it’s the shortest day of the year but that’s not all. December 21st typically goes unobserved as it sits in the shadow of Christmas day. But what many of us don’t know is some of our favorite Christmas traditions originated as ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice like hanging a wreath on your door, decorating an evergreen tree and sitting by the fire with family.
Try this: Instead of buying a wreath this year, go outside with your family in nature and have each person pick a branch from an evergreen tree. Arrange them in a circle and tie them together as a symbol of family unity. However you celebrate with your loved ones don’t forget to spend some time with yourself.
The word Solstice loosely translates as “standing sun.” In other words, the position of this celestial body is no longer visually progressing toward the longest or shortest day of the year but rather appears to be temporarily stationary. I see it as a time to pause, take note and observe something larger than myself. Because we are experiencing ample darkness (specifically in the northern hemisphere) on this day, one way I plan on honoring the cycle is to meditate. Meditation is an inward act, just as winter encourages us to spend more time indoors. So this Winter Solstice I advise you to do the following:
Find a quiet space either in your home or out in nature where you feel at peace. If outside, watch as the sun sets on the shortest day of the year and really be present in your thoughts. Write a poem, sing a song or just simply express gratitude in whatever form of creativity that suits you. If you’re indoors for the Solstice, grab a candle and a comfy seat. Turn off the lights and take a few moments in meditation or reflection. Spend some time acknowledging the year that’s past with acceptance of the journey and its highs and lows. When you’re ready open your eyes, light the candle and shift your thoughts to the future. This is a good time to grab a journal, focus on the light as the candle burns and write down your intentions for the coming year.
To amplify those energies you can use aromatics like incense, oils or even teas in the scents of cedar, spruce, pine, cinnamon and clove (my go-to tea during this time of year is called Winter Solstice from Peet’s Coffee). If you’re into Crystals like me, I recommend using garnet, onyx, rose or crystal quartz and chrysocolla either during meditation, placed on your altar or carrying them on your person throughout this seasonal transition. Regardless of how you celebrate remember to center yourself, show gratitude and share the love this Winter Solstice.
(Source: Crystal Bible by Judy Hall)