7 ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice
“Winter Solstice is the time when light is born out of the womb of winter’s darkness.” Mara Freeman, in Kindling the Celtic Spirit: Ancient Traditions to Illumine Your Life Through the Seasons
To original peoples around the world the Winter Solstice is a time of great celebration. This year it takes place on December 21.
It signifies the return of the sun through longer days and shorter nights until the sun reaches its zenith at the Summer Solstice.
Many ancient cultures considered it to be the true beginning of the “new year.”
It’s something modern society takes for granted, and may not even notice. We always assume the sun will rise and set every day. But what if it didn’t?
What if it gave up because we never said, “Thank you!”
Many great spiritual teachers have said, “Why should the Creator give you more if you don’t express thanks for what you already have.”
A daily gratitude practice is one of the most powerful ways to enhance your life.
Here are some ways to express gratitude for the Winter Solstice and the return of the light:
ONE: Have a Solstice Ceremony. See my previous post on this.
TWO: Honor the land where you live. Spend time outside, observing and connecting with the land. Make offerings to a tree, flower or shrub that moves you. You can leave an offering of tobacco or cornmeal, or even leave a “thank you” note. Why not? The energy of your gratitude will be felt by the elemental spirits of the area.
THREE: Give your home a thorough cleaning to prepare it for the “new year.”
FOUR: Acknowledge the Solstice with your winter greenery. The Ancients regarded trees as sacred. The holiday wreaths we hang on our front doors came from the ancient tradition of honoring the circle of life, the circle of nature.
FIVE: Let there be light. The lights we use for decoration at this holiday time of year had their origins in the Solstice fires that honored the light of the sun so as to encourage its return. If you have a fireplace, prepare a Yule Log, dressed with greenery and ribbons.
If you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle, and let it represent the eternal light of the sun. Say a prayer of thanks for the sunlight which lights and warms our days and allows growing things to flourish.
SIX: Turn off the lights and all electronics for a day. Experience living in the rhythm of the earth’s natural light/dark cycle. Put away your clocks, unplug the phone, eat dinner by candlelight and go to bed early.
SEVEN: On the day of the Solstice, get up in time to watch the sunrise and say thank you. Watch the sun both rise and set on this day. The Ancients honored sunrises and sunsets as a ceremonial time: the perfect time to sing, pray and meditate.
As the sun sets on this shortest day of the year, let go of any stress you may have experienced during the day. Take a deep breath and give thanks for the cycles of the earth, sun, moon and stars that keep doing their jobs no matter what goes on in the dramas of humankind.
“The sun, moon and stars are there to guide us.” Dennis Banks, Native American leader
Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman.” She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com