The Winter Solstice: Year End Reflection & Fire Ceremony
Gwendolyn C. Natusch, M.Ed., MSW
“Soon we will experience the Winter Solstice, the rebirth of light, and a time to dedicate yourself with devotion to your love of neighbor, the Earth, feeling connected, belonging to the Cosmos, and feeling closer to the essence of Nature.”
The winter solstice is believed to be the time for the rebirth of the sun. The solstice ushers out the shortest day and resultantly, the longest night, of the year and welcomes the sun again as it promises longer days with the sun in the sky bringing light and inspiration as seeds that will blossom in the spring. This is also a time for us to go within and to plant our own inner seeds of what we would like to birth, grow, and to envision and intend, as seedlings growing inside of our hearts during the winter months. It is time to envision the seeds we want to plant in our life and allow them the winter time to become new while the sun brings more light into our days and into our hearts and into our dreams. It is a season of the Yule log burning through the darkest night.
The above is an abbreviated excerpt of “A Celebration of Winter Solstice” from: The Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr:
There is a tendency to want to hurry from autumn to spring, to avoid the long dark days that winter brings. Many people do not like constant days bereft of light and months filled with colder temperatures. They struggle with the bleakness of land and the emptiness of trees. Their eyes and hearts seek color. Their spirits tire of tasting the endless gray skies. There is great rejoicing in the thought that light and warmth will soon be filling more and more of each new day.
But winter darkness has a positive side to it. As we gather to celebrate the first turn from winter to spring, we are invited to recognize and honor the beauty in the often-unwanted season of winter. Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims. Let us be grateful for the wisdom winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal. Let us also encourage our spirits as Earth prepares to come forth from this time of withdrawal into a season filled with light.
The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects of winter’s darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you.
The winter is the season of transformation from one phase to another; from the longest and darkest night into the promise of the incoming and streaming light from the sun to alight our way, to support our visioning for our spring, and to bring fire and passion to our dreams. In the winter animals hibernate and the days bring us into relationship with darkness like the seed planted in the rich soil of Mother Earth.
Winter Solstice Activities & Intention Setting for Your Spring
- The longest night at the winter solstice is a fruitful time for setting intentions, to be birthed with the newborn Sun. What you conceive now can grow with the Sun, and gain momentum in Spring.
- You might start a tradition of setting Winter Solstice intentions, and in one year, see how many have come into being. Put them in a special tin or box that has meaning for you.
- “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again,” Simon and Garfunkel sang in a popular song years ago. Make a special effort today to greet darkness and share some of the feelings that arise in you when you think about darkness.
- Ponder the darkness as a spur to reverencing the mysteriousness of God. What place have you made for the darkness of the divine as fertile and transformative in your spiritual path?
- Contribute to the manifestation of more wellness on Planet Earth. Donate food and clothing to poor in your area. Volunteer time at a social service agency. Put up bird feeders and keep them filled throughout the winter to supplement the diets of wild birds. Donate funds and items to non-profit groups.
- Take time to write, create art, play your music, read/write poetry, meditate, listen to music you love, write letters to friends and love ones, spend time alone enjoying your own heart and soul.
- Create a vision board for the year to come and fill it with your heart’s desires for yourself and for your family and for the world.
A Winter Solstice Prayer
May we find hope in the lights we have kindled
on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form
the web-work of peace and justice that spans the world.
In the heart of every person on this Earth
burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.
May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the Light and the Love
that is hidden in every heart.
Prayer excerpt by Edward Hays from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim