Ritual for the Winter Solstice
Here’s a lovely ritual to warm you on the inside, when it’s cold and dark outside.
But first, some background information – it’s important to remember the origins and to have a deep understanding of these ancient rituals before you start.
In the year that it takes for our Earth to make its journey around the Sun we experience changes according to the seasonal shifts, not only in the external world but also within us. Like many other living beings on this planet we are affected by changes in the weather, the light, the heat, the radiation, and the magnetic shifts. They influence us on many levels.
Ancient astrologers looked up into the star-filled sky and found astrological points in the patterns of the stars and planets which corresponded with the seasonal shifts. The most obvious shifts are the summer and winter solstices – the longest and the shortest days of the year. These mark the middle of summer and the middle of winter. The equinoxes mark the middle of spring and autumn, where the days and nights are of equal length. The cross-quarter festivals, as they are known, are often called by the old English/Pagan names of: Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain, and they signal the beginning of each season.
Pre-Christian people would engage in festivals during each of these eight points of the year. The celebrations were reminders to prepare for the new season and to be grateful for the last. Without electric lights and heating, and without the ease of imported fruit and vegetables, as the seasons shifted, work, life, and activities had to change also. People not only recognised the changing seasons in nature, but they also recognised how this yearly cycle affected them on a personal level.
Monotheist religions co-opted these ancient festivals and they were absorbed into the practices of the church. Many people now think of them as Christian celebrations. For example, this time of year is celebrated as Christmas, but this stems from the earlier celebrations of the Winter Solstice. Long before Christianity was around it was seen as the time when the ‘sun was reborn’. From this day onwards until the Summer Solstice the days become longer and lighter. It is clear to see why this was a cause for celebration.
Aligning with these ancient festivals gives us the opportunity to reflect on, and reminds us of, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth that recurs year after year. This is reflected in the cycle of the cosmos, in all of the nature around us, and in ourselves. By working magickally with these festivals it is possible to recognise how these changes affect you on a physical, spiritual, and emotional level, and how you are so very connected with these universal shifts. Taking note of the seasonal movements reminds us that the Earth turns and circles through the cosmos, and that we are flying, and turning, and spinning through the cosmos with it.
In the middle of a long, cold, and dark winter, just when we feel it might continue forever, the winter solstice encourages us to to get cosy and warm and rest in the darkness to recharge our batteries, but also to remember that the days will soon begin to lengthen – when the Sun is ‘reborn’, we can be assured that spring will eventually come. During this time you can celebrate the enchantment of the winter, the beauty that comes with the icy nights, and the excitement of freshly fallen snow.
Find some appropriate music – something that you associate with the season (my favourite piece is on the YouTube link below).
Create an altar – a focal point with chosen items which represent the season for you. Light a candle or night-light and place it on your altar with your items.
Turn off the phone and the lights.
Now, when everything is prepared, close your eyes and take some breaths.
Visualise a circle of light around you.
Prepare with a meditation
Choose your own meditation or use the meditation audio that I offer when you sign up to the newsletter. You’ll find the sign up form on this page.
State your intention:
Say out loud: “Tonight I will go within to find my inner light.”
When you are ready, begin to look into the candle flame. At first, notice the darkness around it. Feel this darkness envelop you, and enter it fully. Fall into it. Notice what is in there and how it feels. Be in the darkness for a while feeling it around you, and be aware of the emptiness and the nothingness in your space. Spend some time exploring this moment. Connect with your feelings and sensations.
Now begin to notice the light of the flame piercing the darkness. Let it grow in your awareness. Feel the light envelop you and enter it fully. Fall into it. Now allow a feeling of expectation and wait. Begin to notice a tiny glimmer of light within your body. The bigger this inner light becomes the more any darkness within you is pushed aside. Begin to feel this light warming you. Watch as it burns brighter and brighter. Allow the light to fill you as it grows. Notice your sensations. Smile. What are you feeling?
Now allow your inner light to grow bigger and bigger, until it joins the external light, and allow yourself to expand into it. Feel a sense of joy as the light increases. Allow it to fill your being. Allow images to come. Follow these images in your mind.
What did the visualisation bring up for you? What does this time of year mean to you? Do you have memories? Does it inspire something in you? Do you feel inspired to help others who may be struggling more during this season? Meditate on this for a while.
Now stand up. Breathe the light. Let words come, and speak these words out loud.
Play your music. Exaggerate the feeling of this light within your body. Allow any sounds and movement to come. Allow the light to inspire you to move or chant. If your body needs to express something let this happen.
Visualise the circle of light dissipating out into the atmosphere. Hold a sense of love and gratitude in your heart. Breathe it in and breathe it out into the world.
Write or draw/paint about your experience.
Over the next few weeks keep hold of this sense of growing light and growing life. Notice the length of the days, the movement through the winter and towards the spring, and notice the changes that happen in your body.
If you want more of this kind of thing, this blog is an excerpt from my book, which is full of information about of Magick, meditation, and inner journeying.
If you want support to start your own magickal group with step by step guidance and training from me. Consider joining the Withcrites web-coven here.
With love on the winter solstice, Lilith x