The shortest day and the longest night. Ancient winter solstice rituals of our ancestors marked this day as the only genuine and natural New Year. The winter solstice is the day of the year when the sun appears low in the sky and gives us the least amount of light.
The Celtic holiday on the day of the solstice is called Yule, which means round in Norwegian. The Celtic ancestors believed that the mystical wheel of life stops momentarily at that time, as one cycle ends and a new cycle of the Sun begins. It is also essential to understand that this holiday does not represent a new beginning in a linear sense but a rebirth or a new birth in the life cycle.
This was an important event in the life of our ancestors who worshiped the Sun, without which there is no life. Even the subtle energies on Earth are changing and affecting us all, consciously or unconsciously. They are especially powerful on this day. If we understand the flow of energies, we can also move harmoniously with them.
The Old Must Die So That the New Can Be Born
The solstice is a moment when it is necessary to stop, look back at the past period, and at the same time, look forward to a new time when strength and light are returning. We connect with our inner wisdom on the evening of the winter solstice. Nature calms down during winter, and so do we. When the days are short and dark, and the Sun loses its power, we expand into our inner worlds. The Earth’s energy is strengthening at this time. This is a time of knowledge, intuition, and inner insights, a time to explore and understand the mysteries of life. The deep knowledge of the unconscious awakens and brings the necessary spiritual insights to grasp what is needed. The old year is dying, and we can prepare the way for a new birth through conscious reflection and letting go of the old.
At that time, homes were decorated with evergreen vegetation: trees of God, ivy, mistletoe, yew… All these plants and trees have special spiritual meanings linked to the cycles of the infinity of life. The church did try to stop some of the old customs and costumes from the evergreen plant, but in some places, they still persisted. Other customs on this day include fire or bonfires, wreaths that symbolize the circle of the year, feasts, gifts, dances, masks, folk games, decorated trees, and candles. All these actions have a deeper purpose of honoring the return of the Sun God and the arrival of a new creative and active life force.
Ancient Winter Solstice Rituals You Can Enjoy on This Day
1. Wake up before sunrise. Go to a special (higher) place and watch the sunrise. Wish for something, and keep in mind your visions for the new cycle.
2. Decorate your home with evergreen decorations.
3. Clear yourself and your environment to make room for the new. You can use sage incense to clear your aura and space—also clear unnecessary junk in the house.
5. Be at peace; listen to the silence of winter. Meditate.
6. Turn off the lights and light the candles, and with each candle, make a wish for something to come true in the new cycle.
7. You can also light a fire or watch the fire in the fireplace (or candle flame). Think about what you need to change about yourself, what to let go of, and what to let the fire cleanse. Throw into the fire what you don’t want to carry into the new year. You can write it in your mind or on a piece of paper thrown into the fire. Let the fire destroy what no longer serves you.
8. Read or tell old stories about connecting with nature and the mystical world, fairy tales, and legends.
9. Go on a night hike with torches in nature.
10. Bless food and drink, and be grateful for abundance.
11. Dance. Suppose you have enough company, dance in a circle, and hold hands.
12. Be focused on giving; keep your heart open and full of gratitude for all you have.
This is a great time to sow seeds or ideas that can manifest when the Sun returns. The easiest way to open up to new opportunities and abundance is with gratitude.
Ancient Winter Solstice Rituals of Gratitude to All Four Elements
Thank the Earth for the period of rest and darkness in which you can better understand yourself and find the strength for the necessary healing,
Thank the air for the inspiration, knowledge, and ideas it brings into your life. Give thanks for the power of voice, song, and sound, for thoughts that help you understand. Communication is the gift of air. Also, ask that your communication in the new cycle is always open, honest, and clear and that you understand the messages and lessons of life in every moment.
Give thanks to the fire, the vital energy of the source, or the creative life force that is now being reborn as the Sun. Fire brings expansion, growth, passion, and active energy. Now you can bring into the light of life all that you have learned in the time of rest and darkness.
Give thanks to the water that brings connection with subtle energies. In the winter darkness, you touch your soul and your hidden emotions. Release all your pent-up emotions. In the form of a cleansing cry, you help yourself through communication, art, writing, music, or dance.
Last but not least, thank all the invisible forces of life for guidance and connection with yourself and the source. Give thanks so that you can be a part of life on Earth and in space.
So use this day to observe the flow of life, express your wishes and intentions, look under a magnifying glass at your fears and burdens and throw them into the fire, and celebrate your successes so far and all that is yet to come in the new cycle.
The winter solstice can thus bring warmth to your heart and a connection with the Earth and the cosmos. It brings a deep spiritual experience that the consumer-oriented aspects of Christmas do not bring.