The Winter Solstice arrives Tuesday, 21st December 2021, marking the official beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. As the shortest day of the year, the sun will rise at approximately 08:38 GMT here in Ireland, and dark will fall at approximately 15:38 GMT. That leaves us with just over seven hours of daylight.
Winter is the season to look within. As Mother Nature busies herself with matters deep down in the earth, so too can we by retreating within and availing of self-care. The Winter Solstice is a wonderful time for ritual. Not only can you work with tarot or oracle decks, but there are lots of simple rituals you can quietly perform.
Here’s a spread I’ve created for reflection this solstice season. You can use tarot or oracle, or if you’d prefer, use the prompts for journaling.
This spread begins with an exploration of what’s going on internally with you right now. Our shadow side reflects aspects of our nature that we tend to hide from others, but also ignore ourselves. A lot can be learned from studying these aspects, and bringing them into the light can have a profound effect on our spiritual growth. Once you’ve identified the energies within through your drawn card, have a think about which aspects you should embrace, and those you might consider releasing. From there, you can make space to bring in something more positive.
What energy surrounds my inner self?
What can I learn from this?
What no longer serves me?
What energy should I embrace?
How can I best embrace self care this season?
What energy should I welcome with the spring?
To accompany your spread, here are a few suggestions of rituals you might like to try. They don’t require hard-to-find ingredients, or spending money, yet these simple practices can make the world of difference as we navigate the dark days.
You can go as big or as small as you like with this simple ritual. Whether you cleanse your whole home, or choose a special nook in need of an energetic boost, it’s an easy way to clear out funk and welcome in positivity—and no mops are required!
To start, open the windows if possible. This helps to clear out stagnant energy as you work.
Standing in the centre of the space, light your favourite incense or herb bundle, and waft the smoke as you move from corner to corner. Allow the smoke to get into all the nooks and crannies. You can waft it gently with your hand, or a feather.
If smoke isn’t an option, you can use sound. Walk the space with a singing bowl, or a drum. If you have neither, you can shake a bag of coins. You can even clap your hands, or flick the edge of a glass. Music works too. Choose something you find soothing and as you sit and listen, imagine the melody sweeping across the space, filling every corner. Visualise the sound waves gathering up old, dull energy before hustling it out the window where it’ll be transformed into white light.
Light a candle
Candles throwing out a warm, welcoming glow are especially significant at this time of year. There’s nothing quite as homely as seeing a flickering candle in a window on a dark night. With so many safe options for candle burning these days, it’s easy to pop a tea-light into a glass jar or a pillar candle into a lantern for stress-free burning. You can set your candle on an altar, or in a place that holds significance to you; perhaps with family photos, or in the window of a specific room. Light the candle every day, pausing to acknowledge how the wheel of time continues to turn. Even in the longest, darkest day of the year, know that light will soon return.
Have you a fancy notebook you’ve been itching to use? Now is the perfect time. Crack open that beauty and have a one-on-one without yourself. How does winter make you feel? As this darkest day approaches, we know each subsequent day slowly returns more and more light. What light do you wish to welcome into your life with the return of spring? What seeds would you like to sow now for reaping in the summer? Get busy with your words. You can use the prompts in the tarot spread above for inspiration, or just allow yourself to ramble away.
Confer with the cards!
Grab your favourite oracle or tarot deck and try out a few spreads. Have a think about creating your own spread, especially if you’ve been journaling and have found yourself lingering over specific thought processes or themes. Is there a card that boosts your spirits this time of year? Place it where you can see it on a daily basis, or if you’re creative, you might like to recreate the tarot or oracle card in your favourite medium.
Grab a clean jar or container. Crafty types might like to decorate it. Leave a pen and a bunch of paper strips beside your container, and every day, write out one thing you’re grateful for. Fold it up, pop it in the jar, and on the first day of spring, or a date that holds significance to you, empty out your slips of paper and enjoy all that gratitude.
Letting Go Ritual
With the winter solstice heralding the start of a new year, resolutions are forefront in many minds. But instead of demanding changes—which let’s be honest, we’re likely to find ourselves struggling with by the third week in January—why not consider letting something go?
Write down whatever it is you wish to release. It might be a bad habit, a grudge you’ve been holding, the echoes of an argument, or resentment of some sort. Perhaps you’ve outgrown something; a relationship, a friendship, even a job. Take some time to consider what needs letting go, and how it would benefit you. Once you’ve written it out, you can perform this easy ritual.
Get yourself a fireproof container. You need to reduce your page/s to ash, so ensure your container can safely contain the burning paper. Choose your location with care too. If you burn indoors, you don’t want to activate smoke alarms or risk setting anything on fire!
Fold your page three times. Take a moment to welcome in this new shift, and say goodbye to the old. Using a match, light the page and drop it into the fireproof container. Don’t worry if it goes out, or burns unevenly, just light it again until the paper has all burned to ash.
Once the ash is cold, take it away from your home for disposal. You can throw the ash to the wind, or tip it into a stream, river, or the sea. As you do, ask the Universe to transform the negativity into positivity. Be conscious of people and wildlife! Don’t throw ash where it might blow into a person’s face or contaminate a food source. (Make sure it’s just ash you throw away, and that’s it’s not mixed with anything else that can cause pollution). If you can’t dispose of the ash outdoors, you can tip it into a sink or your toilet, but ensure you send water down after it to ensure it’s ‘washed away’ from your property. If you’re tempted to bury your ash, don’t. Burying allows something to take root and grow, which means your situation could reoccur, and stronger than before too.
Always perform this letting go ritual with the intention of love and good wishes. If you’re releasing negativity around a person or situation, visualise the Universe surrounding the issue with love and healing. Burning with bad intention sends out negative energy which is not something you want to do. A letting go ritual is an intention to sever ties in a respectful, loving way. Wishing ill luck or harm should never be your intent, so always ensure you burn those binds with love.
I’m often jealous of the animal people who get to hibernate over the winter. Wouldn’t it be lovely to curl up inside a duvet and snooze away, only emerging to snack on tasty food? Ah, bliss. Unfortunately, we can’t, but what we can do is up our self-care game during this season. Again, you can go big or small with this. Try a salt bath with soothing essential oils. Light scented candles, and play your favourite music. You might even enjoy a cup of herbal tea (or grown-ups’ grape juice) as you soak.
If a hot soak isn’t for you, you might prefer to bundle up and spend some time outdoors. Take a wander through nature and check out what she’s been up to. You might like to gather a handful of winter treasures as you do; a leaf, a pine cone, a stone, or feather. Place your finds on your altar, or simply reflect on how time created these pieces, and how they’re a part of a wondrous, magickal cycle—just like us.
Dance. Shake that booty, baby! I danced my way around cleaning the house last week and I had a blast. While cleaning the house isn’t self-care, the dancing was certainly fun, and a great way to release stress. No-one’s watching, so get that playlist going and dance your heart out. If the neighbours won’t appreciate Abba blaring, stick on some headphones.
So as the Winter Solstice approaches, have a think about where you are, where you’d like to be, and how you might get there. Take lots of time for self-care. Consider letting go what no longer serves you, and create space to allow something better in.
If you have a favourite self-care or Winter Solstice ritual, I’d love to hear from you!
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