Like our ancestors have done from the beginning of time, we honor the cycles and the seasons that remind us of the ever-changing flow of life as we move towards the 21st December, Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice is the time of the deepest darkness – the longest night of the year – but it is also the time in which we celebrate the returning of the light. From this day forth until Summer Solstice, the amount of sunlight each day will grow longer and longer. (For those dark night haters – yeah more light every day!!)

At this time of year, we can almost go against the energy of winter. Starting the beginning of December (if not earlier!) and going into the New Year, we are told we should be doing more – buying, socialising, eating & drinking etc – which can go against the pull to be still, to be indoors resting and being with ourselves. So take a few moments in the days up to the Winter Solstice and even after to listen to your body’s natural rhythm.

We can focus on the Winter Solstice being the bringer of more light but let’s not forget the gifts that the darkness of winter brings to us. If you take a walk in nature at winter, you are met with a quietness and stillness – we could embrace the same in our lives. Like the bear who hibernates in the dark cold, and dives into the depths of the dream world for months on end, the dark is the time for us to pull inward and dream. You can use this time as a period to think about your life and do some planning as it helps us to prepare for the birth of the New Year as it is the stage before creation and birthing (Spring). It is also a time of physical and spiritual hibernation which means contemplation, imagination, reflection, quietude, pause and ‘going within’.

Celebrate the Darkness and Invite the Light

While you sit by the warmth and light of a fire when the sky is dark – take the time to dive into your own dark depths. Listen to and use the stillness to feel deeply into your soul without the distraction of the outside world or need to ‘do’. Tune into this darkness of the Earth, reach into the seeds in the ground. What will you dream into being from within your soul? Allow yourself to explore bringing forth your deepest yearnings and the dreams closest to your heart.

It is a perfect time to set intentions, which may take form and shape in the year to come. The intention is the seed; the stillness of winter solstice is the earth, the fertile soil, in which that seed is planted. The return of light and eventual coming of spring allows the seed to grow to its full potential.

Take time to contemplate on lists of intentions for the coming year. Ask the hard questions: “Am I living the life I want to live? Or am I measuring myself by somebody else’s idea of a good life? What place are the intentions coming from? Are they in alignment with your life and purpose, or are they pulling you away from it? You’ll discover that intentions aligned with your life and purpose, that support life and others, will come into being much easier and with more grace and they usually also feel brighter and lighter.

Turn off your electricity and use nature’s light.  On winter solstice, use candles to light the darkness. Allow your eyes to adjust to the natural light – you might be surprised how quickly you get used to seeing in the dark.

Hold a Fire Ceremony This can be done as a personal ceremony or with a group. Begin by giving out small pieces of paper and pencils so each can write down what they want to release and on another sheet what they wish to experience/bring into being. When all have written down what they wish to release, all can gather around a fire, and each can in turn come to the fire and throw their paper in – first, what they wish to release and second, what they wish to dream into being (feel the energy of your intention just before throwing it in the fire). After all have gone, you seal the ritual by all banging on drums, singing or pause in quiet reflection.

Connect with Nature by getting outdoors and notice all that has changed in preparation for the winter days ahead and the movement into the brighter days. Watch the sunrise and sunset and admire the wonderful colours of nature.

Give a gift to the earth.  This can be as simple as scattering bird seed for the birds and squirrels.

Join in the Celebrations. There are numerous events happening all over the country to mark the Solstice. I plan to be home in Donegal so I hope to go to the An Grianan and have a little fire ceremony with my sister.

So take a little time this Sunday 21st to mark the Winter Solstice in whatever ways resonates with you.

Happy Winter Solstice friends!