It’s the shortest day of the year. This is the day that the earth is tilted at its farthest distance from the sun—to those of us in the northern hemisphere. The light is shortest. The moon is nearly full. Are you ready for the energetic changes that the start of the season brings?
Traditionally, the winter solstice meant the celebration of Yule by the cultures of the north. Monuments in Scotland and Ireland align closely with the sun’s path on this day, and were thought to be ancient ritual sites to celebrate the start of winter. Stonehenge is another site where the stones line up with the winter solstice. Ancient Romans celebrated the birth of the god of light, Mithra, a figure of even older Persian myth who was thought to be born on December 25. Norse culture burned Yule logs and would feast for as long as they were alight.
Today, the winter solstice is celebrated in various ways around the world. The Chinese eat dumplings and rice balls and celebrate the festival of Dong Zhi (“Winter Arrives”). In Japan, huge bonfires are burned and warm baths are taken with citrus fruits to encourage health. In Iran, people perform charitable acts and come together to read poetry through the night, in order to ward off evil and usher in the first longer day. Here in the United States, we are preparing for or in the midst of various holidays and looking forward to our own celebration of the new year the week after.
Energetically, this is a day of creating intentions—and the full moon tomorrow is the perfect time to set them alight. Like our ancestors of yore, it is a reflective and purgative practice to write down all of the things you did not like about this year, or that you wish to change. Then, fold the paper and take a moment considering some steps you can take to begin these changes. Last, throw the paper into a fire or burn it carefully in a safe place. As it burns, imagine all of the things that you wrote down melting away, dissipating into the air, and turning into positive energy for the new year.
In addition, remember that wintertime begs for self-care. It's easy to get stuck in a hibernatory rut. Make sure to take a few minutes every morning and evening to treat your body, take some deep breaths, and give your body nutrition. As the sun sets this evening, feel the drain of the current year draw to a close. Rub on some creme and imagine yourself waking luminous and ready to greet a new morning.
From a windy and curiously snowless Montana, we wish you luminosity, inspiration, love and adventure in this upcoming year.