Solstices are a time to pause and reflect, preparing for the shift of energy in the next half of the year. Now, on the shortest day of the year (for the northern hemisphere), darkness has reached its peak and we can celebrate the return of warmth and light to the earth.
Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) occurring on Monday 21st of December, shares traditions with Christmas. It’s a time for celebration, coming together and showering each other with love and appreciation (and gifts!).
I think we all feel the need for joy and treating one another right now, even if a lot of the social and celebratory aspects will be distanced or virtual this year. Hardly anyone is able to have the Christmas they hoped for. Still, be thankful for each other.
The Stars Align
This year feels particularly special as there are two astronomical events happening on the longest night. The Ursid meteor shower will potentially fill the sky with shooting stars from the direction of the north star (up to ten per hour!).
In addition to this, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, have been edging ever closer to each other over the last few days and will appear to pass each other creating a "Christmas Star" on Monday night. This is the first time the Great Conjunction has happened for 400 years (the first time it's happened at night for 800 years).
With the moon also waxing to its first quarter - a time to begin, create, and take action - on solstice night it sounds like a pretty good time to make some wishes and set intentions, don't you think?
My first wish is for clear skies!
Ways to Celebrate
Make a wreath, circular centrepiece or crown to represent the wheel of the year itself. Use evergreens like holly, pine, mistletoe and ivy to represent everlasting life, and add seed heads to symbolise rebirth.
Fill your home with candles and lights to celebrate the return of the (hopefully!) brighter half of the year. Speak your intentions aloud into one of the flames, and let the candle burn all the way down.
Journal. Reflect on the year gone by, the months since the Summer Solstice, and plan for the next half of the year.
Go star gazing. If we're lucky with the weather then the "Christmas Star" of Jupiter and Saturn will appear just above the southwest horizon just after sunset. Make a wish! You're never too old.
Get the kids involved and make a solstice lantern out of a tea light and your recycling! Pierce holes in tin cans, paste coloured tissue paper, ribbons or any remaining fallen leaves onto jam jars. Pop in a candle and hang with string or add to your solstice centrepiece.
Eat by candlelight. Make the most of the dark mornings and evenings before they brighten again and make your mealtimes feel extra special.
What is the Wheel of The Year?
Most people are familiar with the spring and autumn equinoxes, and summer and winter solstices which mark the four quarter points of the wheel of the year. These are the solar festivals, marking the high points of the seasons, but there are four lesser known fire festivals (or cross quarters) which mark each season's beginning - Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. So instead of dividing the year into 12 months, it is divided into eight sections - quarters and cross quarters.
People of different nature-based faiths celebrate the Wheel of the Year, including Pagans and Wiccans, and the festivals are influenced by folklore and ancient beliefs. I am not a religious person but have found following these celebrations a wonderful way to ground myself and a healthy reminder to change the way I work throughout the year.
I'd love to hear how you're celebrating this season? Do come and let me know on Instagram!