You’ve probably heard people complain of winter solstice for being the shortest day of the year; as ‘the bleak midwinter’ in your GCSE English lessons; and the setting of a number of horror movies (is it Halloween again yet?).
As boring as the prospect of long cold nights may be, this yearly occurrence marks a deeply significant spiritual moment across countless cultures. Stonehenge was precisely arranged to frame the winter solstice sunset; pre-Christian Scandinavian countries celebrated it with the festival of Juul; and Dongzhi takes pride of place each year on the Chinese traditional solar calendar. This year’s winter solstice takes place on Wednesday 21st December (reaching its absolute peak at 9:47pm). But what’s so special about it?
TAKING TIME TO PAUSE:
‘Solstice’ derives from the Latin ‘sōlstitium’ which translates to ‘the sun stands still.’ When watching from Earth, the sun appears to take a brief pause in the sky before reversing its direction. Therefore, it represents an opportunity for humans to embrace our own stillness. Anyone else been feeling a deep urge to get under the covers and do…nothing? It’s not just the cringe from your office Christmas party (soz won’t mention it again); creatures are supposed to hibernate in winter.
But hibernation doesn’t just mean crawling into a hole of reality TV (although NGL, there’s a time and a place for that too – hi, Boxing Day). Winter solstice provides an opportunity for introspection. We so often spend our time running from one thing to the next without taking stock of where we’re going – or where we want to go. So take this time to pause, reflect, and go deeper. What are the things in life that really bring you joy? Until you can answer that, there’s no point in making New Year’s Resolutions.
Winter solstice also symbolises the death and rebirth of the sun – and if the sun can transform then so can you! This is the ultimate time to work out what your higher self looks like, and step into it. EVERY SINGLE DAY from this point on gets longer and lighter (YASS) so there is no time more ideal than now for beginning new routines.
What are you waiting for? Read our dreamy step-by-step guide for how to embrace this year’s winter solstice.
SET YOUR SPACE
- Tidy your room: tidy space, tidy mind. Buddhist monks call the practice of tidying ‘soji’ and see it as a necessary part of the meditative process.
Light a candle - ideally one with a golden or yellow hue to symbolise the sun. We LOVE Incensorial from Boy Smells which is dripping with yummy citrus scents that also symbolise the resurrection and transformation of the winter solstice.
Bring in some pieces of nature from outside. It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in a countryside cottage that backs onto a wild forest of bluebells (one day… on day), leaves that have fallen off trees and onto the street will do! Any opportunity to connect with the natural earth will do the trick in raising your vibration (read more about this in How to Raise Your Vibration For the New Year)
- Grab a saucepan (will explain why later), some dark chocolate (or something sweet), paper, and a pen
Arrange all of these things, along with any crystals, sage or palo santo you have in a pile in front of you on the floor (or in the middle if you’re doing this in a group)
- Start the ceremony with a quick breathwork exercise to find focus. One of our favourites is the classic box breathing: breath in (through the nose) four a count of four; hold it for a count of four; and breathe out (again through the nose) for a count of four; then hold for a count of four. Repeat for a few times until you feel re-centred.
- Take the pen and paper and write down a list of everything you want to leave behind - starting with the sentence starter, “In the winter solstice of 2022, I leave behind…” These can be anything: habits, qualities, energies or people.
- Once you’re finished, pop it in the saucepan and BURN IT. If you don’t feel comfortable setting things on fire (and fair enough), no problem – simply draw a single line through it.
- Then take all of your crystals and just hold them under the tap. If you have more crystals than you can hold in one hand (and no we DON’T have a crystal buying problem thank you very much), then separate them by colour. As the water passes over them, imagine all the things you’re leaving behind being washed away – leaving your energy cleansed.
If you have sage (and if you don’t, we seriously recommend you do – there are some gorgeous sustainably sourced options like this one on Etsy), light it, blow out the flame and move it in an anti-clockwise direction, focusing on entry points like doors and windows – all the while keeping the things you want to leave behind at the front of your mind. You can even say goodbye to them out loud to really get them gone… SEE YA LATER NEGATIVE ENERGY.
- Finish the cleanse with a quick meditation removing any final bits that are clinging on for dear life. Close your eyes and picture any negativity in your body as clumps of red. Locate where they are (you might feel them in the back of your neck, your stomach, or anywhere at all) and visualise slowly scooping them out and watching them leave your body. Byeee x
RECOGNISE YOUR ABUNDANCE
- Now you have cleansed, it’s time to step into your abundance by expressing gratitude for all the magnificent things in your life. If you want to get REALLY nerdy with it, aim for this step to take place at 9:47pm so that your moment of pause aligns directly with the sun. However, if this isn’t possible (or your timekeeping skills don’t make the top of your CV...) then don’t worry at all as just like with a full moon, the energy lasts for a good 48 hours either side of the peak itself.
- Write down a list of all the things you are grateful for: big and small.
- Read it out loud and really take the time to actually visualise each one and remember why it brings you joy
Eat the chocolate! Savour each bite and take time to indulge in pleasure for nothing more than the sake of pleasure (now THAT is abundance). Our all time favourite is organic, vegan and generally heavenly Booja Booja – but any treat will do!
To seal the deal: now is the perfect time for a short and sweet yoga flow. As winter solstice is a celebration of the sun’s stillness, try a super slow sun salutation. If you’re an OG yogi, move through this yourself or if you fancy a guide, our gal Kassandra always knows what’s up and has lots of short sun salutations available on her Youtube channel. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy getting bendy, take a few minutes to sit down, breathing through your nose with no restriction whatsoever, and really allow the feeling of gratitude to move through your body while you embrace stillness (just like the sun – oi oi!).
- To read more about how to up your gratitude game – read our article The Art of Giving Thanks
SET YOUR INTENTIONS FOR THE RETURN OF THE SUN
- Remember that as well as taking a pause, the winter solstice also marks the return of shorter nights, longer days, and the step towards summer again.
Start off these steps by closing any windows you opened when you were smudging (all that negativity should be halfway down the motorway now so you’re all good) and light some palo santo (again, loads of amazing sustainably sourced options on Etsy for this!)
Instead of being super specific about your manifesting goals, sit with some affirmations that allow a little flexibility in your life. Focus instead on the feelings you want to experience in 2023. Being too specific (i.e. I want that car/that bag/that life) can leave you attached to your ego and chasing the wrong things. Try out some of the following instead:
- I invite flexibility and stability into my working life
- I invite love, peace and kindness across my relationships
- I attract opportunities that allow me to feel wild, fun and safe
- Once you’ve written them down (is it possible to be addicted to Papier notebooks?), speak them into existence! Read them out three or four times and visualise the feeling each of them would bring
- Perhaps the most important part is this next step: forget about it. Shut the book, put it somewhere safe. In the same way that we trust the sun will make its return, we trust the universe for putting us where we need to be on our soul’s journey. Ooh.
To finish off, give yourself an opportunity to fully embrace your stillness with a long, hot bath (there’s honestly nothing better than Patisserie Beauty Bath Balls, just saying).
And voila! Most importantly, forgive yourself for moving slower at this time. If the sun deserves a break, then so do you.