Winter Solstice - rituals & practices release & renewal | Earth to Self
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Winter Solstice – rituals & practices release & renewal

Winter Solstice is my favourite time of year. There’s something about the stillness and darkness that I really love – in fact the more I follow the cycles of the seasons the greater I crave the opportunity to surrender and go within at this time of year. A time for hibernation, rest and renewal. As much as I’d love to climb into the metaphorical cave and stay there, the reality is that we still need to operate in the world, right? As parents, business owners, practitioners and professionals.  In this post I’ll share a bit about the significance of this time of year and how to honour it with simple and easy rituals or practices that fit into your daily life.

 

But first, what is the Winter Solstice?

It’s the time of year where the sun reaches it’s furtherest point from the equator. For us in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun is north of the equator and for those in the northern Hemisphere, it’s south. It’s the deepest, darkest point in our seasonal calendar, the longest night and the shortest day. The true beginning of winter.

Interesting fact: the word Solstice is derived from the latin word ‘Solstitium’; ‘Sol’ meaning Sun and ‘Sistere’ meaning ‘stand still’. I love the thought of the Sun standing still for a while, don’t you? Taking stock, gathering energy before making it’s shiny return.

This time of year gives you permission to do the same.

Winter Solstice offers you the gift of stillness and release whilst simultaneously bringing you the promise of a fresh new start.

There are two themes to consider on an inner level around this

  1. COMPLETION:  What has come to a natural completion in your life? What are you ready and willing to release and let go of? This could be a situation or circumstance, a way of being, responding or behaving, old thought patterns that are holding you back, etc.
  2. NEW BEGINNINGS: As the Sun makes it’s inevitable return – what new seeds of growth are you choosing to nurture within you? What is it you want to bring more of into your life as you journey through the next seasonal cycle? What is calling you to stretch beyond your comfort zone and what do you need to support yourself to expand and up-level?

 

Endings and beginnings, expansion and contraction, tension and release – they are all necessary components of change, transition and growth. Nature demonstrates this fact to us, year in and year out.

And as humans, we ARE nature. So naturally this is an opportunity for us to follow suit by considering our own inner contraction and expansion as we grow and evolve as individuals in this crazy-beautiful journey that is Life.

 

Rituals and Practices to honour and celebrate the Winter Solstice.

I rarely let Winter Solstice slide on by without a spiritual ceremony of some sort. It’s an opportune time to consciously release our ‘darkness’ and invite in the ‘light’. To recognise where we are now, how far we’ve come and where we are heading.

This Wednesday 21st June @ 2:24pm, is the Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere. Clear some space in your diary, find some alone time (or better yet, get together with some friends) and see what his time of year has to offer you.

Here are some ideas for honouring the season and your ‘Self’ with simple rituals and practices.

SELF REFLECTION PRACTICE

Light a candle, burn some oils or incense and take time out to reflect on the last 12 months.

Write your responses in your journal.

  • Think back to the last Winter Solstice
    • Who were you then? What were you doing?
  • Take time to recognise how far you have come from that point.
    • Allow yourself to relive the significant moments.
    • What did you achieve, focus on, experience, learn and or heal during this time?
    • Write it all down in simple and short bullet points.
  • When you’re complete – sit back and take it all in.
    • Do you notice any underlying themes?
    • What key points stand out as significant?
    • What worked well and what didn’t?
    • Where were you challenged and how did you grow?
    • What are you most thankful for?
  • Sit with it all for a minute or two and feel into the following questions
    • What way of being/emotion/behaviour/situation am I ready to release?
    • Journal your response.
    • Keep writing until you have summarised the issue into a short, succinct sentence.
    • Do the winter solstice ritual below.
  • Now let’s look forward to the next seasonal cycle. Consider the following questions
    • What am I ready to embrace in my Self and my life?
    • What do I want more of in my life?
    • What do I know I am capable of, despite the fears?
    • In what way can I support myself to achieve this?

SIMPLE WINTER SOLSTICE RITUAL

Either solo or with a group of friends, gather around a fire or candle in darkness.

Group

  • Create a sacred space using a simple statement of intention, burning incense, oils or sage and doing a simple grounding meditation.
  • One by one, share out-loud what it is you are releasing from your life at this time.
  • Write it down as a succinct statement and take turns tossing it into the flame (please be safe indoors with candles)!
  • Spend a moment in silence once everyone is complete.
  • Then go around the circle again so each person can declare what it is they are calling in.
  • Spent a moment feeling into the beautiful vibration created by everyone’s intentions.
  • Declare the ceremony complete, then celebrate in your own way (mulled wine, perhaps?)

 

Solo

  • Create a sacred space using a simple statement of intention, burning incense, oils or sage and doing a simple grounding meditation.
  • Spend some time sitting with what it is you are releasing (as summarised in the self-reflection practice above).
  • You may like to explore this with art, either drawing or perhaps clay, to help facilitate the release.
  • Write down what it is you are releasing on a small piece of paper and burn it in the fire or over a candle.
  • Spend a moment sitting in silence and notice what you feel in your body as a result of the release.
  • Collect ashes to bury in the earth the following day
  • When you’re ready, start to feel into what it is you are calling in with the returning sun (as per self reflection practice).
  • Spend time visualising and feeling in your body your declaration coming to pass.
  • Draw and journal as you feel to help anchor this fresh new energy.
  • In your own time, now or later, create a personal altar to hold your intention (more on this soon).
  • Give thanks and finish.

 

OTHER PRACTICES

To honour the Winter Solstice, consider the following simple practices.

  • On the evening of the Winter Solstice, turn all the lights out, switch off the TV and all devices. Light candles instead, drink spiced tea or mulled wine with friends and loved ones.
  • Spend the evening outside under the stars around a camp fire.
  • Do a Winter Solstice oracle card spread by candle light.
  • Create a Winter Solstice Personal Altar to hold your intentions for the next cycle.
  • Create a general seasonal altar in your home with your family.
  • Go to bed early.

 

And finally, R E S T

 

The remainder of winter is a time to rest, be still and integrate. It’s an incubation period where what you’ve released and called in can merge and settle into your psyche, ready for the fullness of expression in the spring and summertime.

But more than that, you need rest and stillness so that you and your intentions are replenished and nourished ready for action in spring. Honour this time and yourself by slowing down, lying low and nourishing yourself with whatever you need.

 

If you’re reading this and happen to live in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions of NSW, then please know I’m co-facilitating a Winter Solstice Women’s Circle on Thursday 22nd June at 6:30pm. We’ve developed a program, that builds on this reflective process, incorporating art therapy, guided visualisations and more, all in sacred circle. To find out more, email me or visit the event page.

 

Happy Winter Solstice to you. May the darkness reveal parts of yourSelf that are ready to shine!

 

Love Rachel

xx

 

Photo ‘We are headed north’ by Taylor Marie McCormick.

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