Winter Solstice – A Time for Reflection and Intention!
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us—Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice will occur at 5:02am ET on Monday, December 21, 2020. As the sun appears to lose its fight against darkness, the world shifts and we begin a new solar cycle at Winter Solstice. Not only is this the first day of winter, it is also the day of the year with the longest, darkest night and fewest daylight hours.
It’s no coincidence that for thousands of years, humankind around the world has celebrated this seasonal shift, often with fire and light to show that the darkness is merely a backdrop against which the light can shine.
Winter Solstice Celebrations Around the World
Scandinavian and Germanic pagans celebrated with massive bonfires and may have burned Yule logs as a symbolic way to push back the dark and welcome the coming spring as did my Slavic ancestors who celebrated in a similar way.
Modern Druids celebrate Alban Arthan, which marks the passing away of the Old Sun and coming of the new.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus with houses and trees decorated with garlands of lights.
Jews commemorate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, by lighting candles in a menorah for eight nights.
My Great Grandmother’s people in Western Mongolia marked the first day of Nine-Nine counting 81 days of winter on the Solstice, and still do.
The African-American celebration of Kwanzaa involves lighting seven candles to represent the seven principles of African culture and community.
So many traditions exist around the world celebrating this important date!
And because the Winter Solstice also occurs near the end of our calendar year, it is often tied into reflection of the year past, and setting of intentions for the year ahead.
Honoring the Solstice
While the Solstice is a sacred time of going within, practicing stillness, and embracing rest, it’s clear that we also crave light, connection, community, and celebration!
Whatever your soul is calling for at this time of year, let me encourage you to embrace this unique and advantageous opportunity to review the previous 12 months and begin setting intentions for the new year.
I know this has been a year we’d like to forget as quickly as possible, but hold on there a hot second before you toss your 2020 calendar into the recycling bin!
Even though it has been full of struggle, grief, loneliness, and loss for many of us, the Winter Solstice reminds us that there are still lessons to be learned from the dark. There is treasure there with great value for us all.
Preparing for the New Year
Physical preparation often involves clearing away the old so you have room for the new. Think about it this way: If you wanted to redecorate your bedroom, you would have to get rid of all the junk first!
You have to take it out and look at it and decide, “Hmmm… maybe I should get rid of this concert t-shirt I’m keeping from 1984 that my ex gave to me,” or “I think it’s time to let go of the dried flowers from my first wedding bouquet.” You can’t just stick it in the back of the closet or under the bed. You have to let go of it so you can replace it with something that fits you NOW.
The same is true for our emotions.
We need to take a look at what happened in 2020 so we can groan over our missteps, laugh over the silly stuff we did, and appreciate the lessons we learned.
We often want to skip this step because it can be painful. But if we don’t examine the not so great stuff, it’s there, under our beds and in the back of our closets, just waiting to trip us when we get up for a midnight snack!
Winter Solstice Journaling
One of the best ways to process this STUFF is by journaling. Set aside some private time in the day or so preceding the Winter Solstice. Make this special by choosing a quiet spot, playing some soothing music, and lighting a candle or burning incense.
Start by reviewing the year by answering questions like:
- What did I learn this past year?
- What new things did I discover about myself?
- What was hard for me?
- What did I lose this year?
- What did I gain?
- What were my moments of joy?
- What were my moments of grief?
- What do I want to leave behind in 2020?
- What or who do I need to forgive from this year?
You may need more than one session to work through these questions. Don’t rush — give yourself space and time. You may think of more things to add at a later date… that’s fine! There is no “right” or “wrong.”
Once you’ve reviewed the past year, you’re ready to think about what you want to create in the year to come! (You may want to set a separate session to work on your intentions for the year ahead.)
Set Intentions, Not Resolutions
Most New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by February. That’s why I’m a big believer in setting intentions, not resolutions!
As a powerful co-creator of your human experience, you have the ability to work with Spirit and the Universe to manifest your desires. But it needs to start with clarity of what you WANT, rather than avoidance of what you DON’T want.
Here are some questions to write about in your journal as you dream for 2021:
- What am I currently feeling inspired to do, create, or focus on in 2021?
- What are some personal truths I feel called to express right now?
- Are there any fears or hurdles blocking me from following my intuition/guidance to create something new or change paths?
- What did I want to be as a child? Is that part of my dreams for who I want to be now? Why or why not?
- What is one way I know I’m being called to step out of my comfort zone in the coming year?
The Fullness of Life
Recognizing and honoring the Winter Solstice is about recognizing and honoring the darkness — in Nature and in our lives.
Our world is a beautiful, balanced blend of day and night, winter and summer, celebration and mourning. When we take time to appreciate and embrace the full spectrum of our existence, we become more integrated, aligned beings.
Enjoy this time, dearest friends. The sun will rise again!
P.S. Many of the journaling questions in this post come from my “Journal of the 7 Energies.” Not only does this lovely, full-color journal include a description of the seven energy centers and associated affirmations and journaling questions, it also is the perfect place for your end-of-year journaling and 2021 dreams! You can get your copy here.