The Sanctity of the Winter Solstice: Darkness Gives Birth to Light
Posted by Christina Pistotnik
Today, December 21st is the winter solstice; this is the darkest day of the year that occurs just prior to the Sun beginning a new solar cycle and the light of the days slowly starts to get longer.
Some might see the darkness as sad and unyielding, but historically this has been seen as a special and important time for acceptance, renewal and self-reflection. It’s a time for letting go of the things that no longer serve us, or in other words, for coming out of the darkness and into the light.
Winter Solstice & Yin Yang Theory
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, we see the moon and darkness as a yin energy, they’re about drawing inward and being calm.
Similarly, the sun and sunlight are seen as a yang energy, and they’re about growth and renewal.
Therefore, this time of year is a transitional phase and part of the beautiful elements that are the very basis of TCM yin turning into yang, or darkness turning into light.
This date has always held a special place in my heart, because I was born only a few days after the darkest day of the year. So I wanted to explore how some other cultures have honoured this time and provide suggestions for ways to celebrate and honour the winter solstice yourself.
Winter Solstice Mythologies
- This time of year is known as Yule time to some pagans, and it entails a celebration of the Moon Goddess energy. It is believed that on the solstice, the moon gives birth to the sun.
- In Egyptian lore, it’s believed the Great Mother Goddess Isis gave birth to her son Horus, the Sun God on the Winter Solstice.
- In Greek mythology, the Goddess Leta gave birth to the bright, shining Apollo.
- Mithra, the Persian God of Light and guardian against dark evil was born on the solstice.
Winter Solstice Rituals
Solstice Cleansing Bath Ceremony
- Fill up a bath with warm water (it should be comfortable and not too hot) and light some candles around the bath.
- Add dried or fresh cleansing herbs to the bath or use essentials oils instead.
- Herbs that cleanse include: sage, chamomile, basil, cinnamon, sandalwood, lavender or rosemary.
- As you sink into the warm water, visualize yourself being purified and cleansed from your feet all the way up to your head. Allow yourself to relax into the water. Think of old, unnecessary thoughts and feelings being washed away.
- Afterwards, drain the tub water and watch the water drain, while visualizing all the things that no longer serve you going down the drain with the water.
Solstice Meditation Ceremony: Darkness into Light
- Gather 5-10 candles and place them around the house/room.
- Turn off all the lights and other technology in the house or room (close the door if you are unable to utilize the entire house).
- Light only one candle and sit in a comfortable position in front of it.
- Focus on the light, taking in the shape of the flame and the candle. Notice the light emanating from the flame and notice if there are any sounds around.
- Remember to breathe deeply in and out while you are doing this.
- Next, take some time to think deeply about yourself, your past, what no longer serves you and what you want for your future.
Note this is not a time to be judgemental about yourself or your decisions. This is a time to really let things go.
- Once you feel like you have had enough time for reflection, start to light the rest of the candles around the house/room that you have set out.
- As you light each candle, you can either say a positive phrase/affirmation or visualize that this is where you come from the darkness and into the light.
Solstice Fire Releasing Ceremony
- This one takes place outside, so please dress for the conditions.
- Light a fire outside, either in a fire pit or in a safe way that will be contained.
- Grab a piece of paper and write down the things you want to let go of.
- Toss the paper into the fire, as a gesture of release.
- Watch the paper burn and the smoke dissipate into the air.
- Visualize the things you wrote down dissipating and being released with the smoke.
Happy Winter Solstice!
Whether you are spiritual or not, this past year has been a tough one, so I do think some cleansing will do the body, mind and spirit some good. Pick one of the above rituals or do all three!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy winter solstice and holiday season.
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