Winter Solstice

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)

Autumn Vibes

Fall is the feast for the eyes and the belly

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer a warm breeze blowing through my sundress over boots and beanies any day but there’s something to be said about the transitional, equalizing energy of autumn that rejuvenates me. The trees come alive as they change colors from vibrant mustard to coral fire red, the air is fresh and brisk in the rain – oh it’s so romantic when it rains! Fall is the feast for the eyes and the belly. This time of year I encourage you to slow down, take it all in and be mindful of how you’re honoring yourself and the change in seasons.

There are so many things you can do to tap in but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Document the change. Take that old dusty camera out of your drawer, lose the iPhone and spend the day photographing the exciting visuals of fall. If you live by the coast or in a place where there aren’t many deciduous trees, take a drive inland and spend the day in another city.

2. Autumn is all about introspection. We prepare for the darker half of the year by initiating projects that keep us indoors like knitting, carving wood or writing. These kinds of projects are essentially an exercise at sorting your thoughts and feelings and checking in with yourself. Enjoy the fruits of your labor by learning a new skill and creating something beautiful.

3. Eating what’s in season. I don’t know about you but I get sick at least once a year and it’s usually when I’m not listening to my body or taking care of myself. Nature bears fruit all year long but that doesn’t mean you should be eating strawberries in the winter. For example in California, autumnal produce is hearty and vitamin rich, like yams, beets and squash. Root vegetables are delicious, versatile and provide insane amounts of nutrients. No wonder they grow during flu season! My advice to you: go to the farmers market or use a website like to make sure you’re buying what’s in season.

4. Time to get witchy. Right after the Autumnal Equinox on September 21, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and all things spooky and spiritual are in the air once again. We honor our dead, dress up like our worst nightmares and face the coming darkness head on. Now when I say “get witchy” I don’t mean wear a pointy hat or ride a broom but rather tap into unconventional spiritual practices. Some personal rituals that I enjoy are burning sage, card readings and cleansing my crystals. Granted those activities can be done at any time of the year but for me I feel a more intense energy calling me to do those activities at this time of year.

Consider it like and energetic reset button — burn Sage, Palo Santo or Cedar with the intention to clear stagnant energies in your home and around your body that can be disruptive to the coming season. Do a daily card reading to gain some perspective or pick up some new stones for your pouch to help you stay grounded through the shift into the darker half of the year. Some stones I’m working with right now are:

·     Tiger’s Eye – grounding energy, facilitates manifestation. Keeps me on task and in touch with my intentions

·     Tourmaline – disperses negative energy, psychologically aids in understanding oneself and others. Powerful mental healer

·     Fluorite – brings stability to groups, linking them to a common purpose, dissolves fixed patterns of behavior. Great for organization and concentration

·     Topaz – mellow, empathic stone, brings joy and good health. Great for affirmation, visualization and manifestation. Excellent emotional support stone

·     Aquamarine – Courageous and calming stone, brings closure on all levels. Use for meditation, clearing (communication) throat chakra

Regardless of where you live or what you believe, set time aside this fall to do some self care in whatever form that takes. Allow yourself to take some extra time to reset, set your intentions for the transition and stay grounded. Your renewed energy and glowing aura will won’t go unnoticed. 

– Isabel