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Winter Solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. Solstice marks the start of winter. It is also known as the returning of light. After the shortest day the sun starts to return and slowly but surely with it, the return of warmth and light.
Winter Solstice is December 21st, when the sun moves into Capricorn. Solstice is celebrating the rebirth of the sun and a pivotal point on our seasonal cycle
Solstices are the extreme points as Earth’s axis tilts toward or away from the sun—when days and nights are longest or shortest. On equinoxes, days and nights are equal in all parts of the world. Four cross-quarter days roughly mark the midpoints in between solstices and equinoxes. We commemorate these natural turning points in the Earth’s cycle. Seasonal celebrations of most cultures cluster around these same natural turning points.
December 21 Solstice/Winter: returning of the light—Kwanzaa (African-American), Soyal (Hopi), Jul (Scandinavian), Cassave/Dreaming (Taino), Chanukah (Jewish), Christmas (Christian), Festival of Hummingbirds (Quecha). Goddess Festivals: Freya (Norse), Lucia (Italy, Sweden), Sarasvati (India).
"The longest night gifts us with time to enter the darkness, fully. We hold our breaths with nature, where life is suspended, waiting in extremis. The stillness behind action gathers as we empty and trust in our renewal. What will you give/lose to the night?"
Oak Chezar © Mother Tongue Ink 2019
Bridges © Kate Langlois 2018
The night breathes slow, deep, long. The breath of the Earth moves up to meet the stars.
Slow down, dear one. Slow down. Breathe.
The dark has its own music. The dark has its own spell. The dark is the breathe that unclenches, bringing sweetness to our deeps.
Be as the sleeping mountains. In the rhythm of your patience, the world will be revealed. In the drum beat of our hearts, all the lessons of the year will tell their stories.
Winter is stillness. It is deep calm. It is huge.
Carry your candle, yes. But do not let it blind you to the radiance of the dark. Do not let it crowd out the silence. Do not let it deafen the music of heartbeat, breath, starlight, humanity.
We turn the wheel of the year. We are time unfolding, seasons following seasons flowing through us, bodies, hearts, minds. We walk through the grace of the year, and our wholeness is revealed.
We walk through the wisdom of the seasons and learn ever more how to love and what we love.
For ages past, Winter Solstice was celebrated and rituals of fire and light lit up the world on the darkest day of the year.
Historical evidence suggests that Winter solstice has been celebrated as far back as the stone ages. Monuments dating back to 3200 B.C can be found that align with the sunrise on solstice.
In medieval times, Winter solstice was a time of feating and celebration. Many farm animals and cattle were slaughtered, as famine was prevalent in these times and feeding extra mouths was worrisome.
Ancient rome celebrated Saturnalia, a week long celebration held in ancient rome dedicated to Saturn, seen as a ruler of agriculture.
To this day, Winter Solstice is still celebrated!
Candles traditionally and used in many Winter Solstice rituals. The Yule candle represents prosperity and to welcome in the coming light of the sun. Bring this light into your house and hearth!
Choose a bright sun color, yellows, whites and oranges. This candle is warmth and promise in the cold dark months of winter. Keep the candle burning all night, or as long as it. Similar to the Yule Log, a log kept burning all night to keep the darkness at bay during the longest night. Let these candles fill your home with their light. Turn off any electric lights and enjoy the glow of the fire.
If having fire in your home isn't safe, LED candles work wonders!
While you light the candle, say out loud or in your mind what warms your heart. What do you want to give thanks to on this dark day? What have you learned in the darkness? What do you want to bring to light?
Close your eyes and hold your words in your mind eye and light the candle. Watch it catch and glow with your intentions as it's bright light is cast throughout the room.
Enjoy your night! This is a time for quiet and love. Take extra care of your body and your loved ones.
Gift giving is also a wonderful tradition of Winter Solstice! Let your community warm you and show your gratitude for those you love in your life.
Solstice gifts should be meaningful and intimate. They often have close ties with nature.
Sometimes the biggest gift of all is being able to gather and hug our loved ones.
Wake up early this day to see the sun rise over the horizon after the longest night! You made it! The darkest night has passed! Take a hike to a peak and let the cold frost wake you up! Greet the coming sun with reverence and love!
Or if you wish to stay home and warm, you can invite the sun inside and watch it rise over Stonehenge. Every year the English Heritage Organization live streams the sunrise at Stonehenge or take a virtual tour of the site! Learn more at english-heritage.org.uk
Creating a spiral labyrinth helps symbolizes the spiraling nature of the seasons. Winter Solstice normally marks the center. We walk in through Autumn and spiral out through spring and summer.
Stones or string lights are often used to mark the borders of the spiral. Candles can be used as well but make sure you watch your clothing!
The spiral action also represents turning inward for winter. Many animals are hibernating and nature is quiet. This time of year is ripe for meditation and intention setting.
Walk into the spiral, with each step go deeper into your breathe and your mind. Let your thoughts spin quietly away. Let go of your to-do lists, the deadlines, and embrace the darkness of the night. Leave a small gift or light a candle in the center. A gift to the winter and to yourself.
Sit in the center of the labyrinth. Slow your breath in the quiet of the night.
As you ready yourself to move outward again, remember to give thanks and gratitude.
To close the ritual, extinguish the light and let the darkness surround you and wait for the sun to return!
Kwanzza (African-American): Celebration of feasting, dancing and gift giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles and symbols: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. The 7 symbols of Kwanzaa are; Fruits/Vegetables, Straw Mat, candle holders, maize, gifts, a communal cup, and 7 candles in red, green and black symbolizing the core principles. Each day of the week long celebration is dedicating to one of the principals.
Soyal (Hopi): A purification ceremony intended to call back the sun from its journey. Gifts are exchanged and a space is created with elaborate beautiful decorations and filled with community and plenty of space to dance!
Chanukah (Jewish): A celebration of light involving 8 candles, to be lit throughout the week. It revolves around the story of the Maccabees who fought off their Greek/Syrian oppressors during a revolt to save the second Temple in Jerusalem. It also celebrates a miracle of light, where just a day's supply of oil allowed the menorah in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem to remain lit for eight days. Each day of this festival a second candle is let, and by the 8th day the entire Menorah is light up! Small gifts are exchanged, and lots of feasting with potato Lakes and dradeal games.
Yalda (Iranian): Yalda marks the last day of the year in the Persian calendar. It is a celebration about the victory of light over dark and the birthday of the Sun god Mithra. Pomegranates and nuts are often eaten at family gatherings
Inti Raymi (Inca): A festival of the sun, Originally celebrated by the Incas before the Spanish conquistadors arrived and included feasting and often sacrifices. Banned by the conquistadors, it was revived in the 20th century and is still celebrated today and many people travel from around the world to celebrate in Cusco.
—excerpt © Sophia Rosenberg 2018
I Have Seen One World
I have traveled an earth with no borders.
a round place where women
never birth enemy face,*
and flowers can never be foreign.
In countries not my own, the trees
are clearly kin to trees everywhere.
Mountains and waving grains
from one land to another
differ only as close cousins.
In all the countries, water
is our same generous Mother.
Everywhere birds sing, goats
and sheep ring their bells.
I have seen one world,
an earth without maplines where
flowers belong where they bloom.
We are everywhere the same,
short-lived creatures, longing
for nourishment, love and beauty—
one world, oh so clearly, one world.
— © Susa Silvermarie 2019
*from Rites of Ancient Ripening by Meridel Le Sueur
HeartSong © Colleen Koziara 2014
She walks dark
Her light shines
in all faces
and fires burning
She's tree fern
of earthly blisses
in a rainbow
Oh Mama Gaia
—excerpt © Akefa Azu 2015
A. Levemark (Tranas, Sweden) I'm a gardener & an illustrator, who is passionate about permaculture. My roots are in Scandinavia and Britain, and I'm drawn to the folklore of both places. ihox.deviantart.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Carmen R. Sonnes (OR) creates paintings to bring beauty, healing and balance to our planet. By acknowledging culture, the feminine and spirit in each work, she fulfills her purpose.
Christina Gage (New Mexico) creates soulful fine art inspired by the sacred feminine. Each painting carries the transmission of love and luminosity, a non-verbal prayer: Experience her online art gallery at christinagage.com
Colleen Koziara (IL) I lived my most formative years immersed in nature and filled with wonder. I strive to make each of my works a doorway. I hope the viewer sees through that doorway, the deeper magic within the image being mirrored back within themselves.
Akefa Azu (Slocan, BC) is a mixed race, conscious visual and performing artist. She lives in the kootenays on her hobby farm with her husband, mother, and beast-friends. Join her on-line community @akefamusic.com to see her upcoming passion projects.
Kate Langlois (San Francisco, CA) In my creative practice, I bring beauty to shadows. Celebrating diversity through the many spaces of the feminine. I view ordinary lives as extraordinary. Through the fractures of experiences I strive to amplify wholeness.
Jakki Moore (Norway) is an artist, illustrator and storyteller currently living in three places: Norway, Ireland and Bulgaria.
Lindy Kehoe is the illustrator of Mother Tongue Ink’s children’s book The Last Wild Witch, among many other various works! Lindy creates with the intention of painting portals of lucid dreaming, healing, and wonder. May all beings be free.
Maeanna Welti (OR—unceded Chinook land) is a writer, astrologer and witch. She is the author of the Healing Wheel Samhain to Samhain workbook. Maeanna offers readings, coaching, support for ancestral and personal healing, and teaches astrology and the fundamentals of witchcraft.
Oak Chezar (Jamestown, CO) a radical dyke, performance artist, Women's Studies professor, psychotherapist, writer, & semi-retired barbarian. She lives in a straw bale, womyn-built house. She just published Trespassing, a memoir about Greenham Common Womyn's Peace Camp. Whilst working & playing towards the decimation of patriarchy & industrial civilization, she carries water. email@example.com
Susa Silvermarie (Mexico) I live and create joyfully in Ajijic Mexico. In 2021 I turn 74, and every year it gets better, my purpose clearer, my heart lighter. A Spoken word artist, widely published and anthologized writer known for her original work that delights the senses while calling the spirit. Look for her e-book, Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit.
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