The light is waning, and we all feel the pull of the winter darkness calling us inward to our homes. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun makes an ever shorter journey, and there is a natural feeling of both anticipation for new beginnings to come and mixed feelings of melancholy and satisfaction as the year winds down.
Many clients call this time of year asking for help finding meaning in a season that has become too busy and fraught with obligation. While they may still celebrate traditional holidays with family, they want a new ritual that aligns with their desires for growth, inspiration, and simple pleasures.
Ironically, the rituals I help my clients create are rooted in old traditions, though we may put a modern twist on them. The Winter Solstice has been honored for thousands of years as an observable astronomical phenomenon. I like to celebrate the Winter Solstice as a time of thanks, release, and an opportunity to create resolutions or affirmations for the year ahead.
Releasing the Old
A family-friendly and easy ritual to light the darkness and shed old patterns is the burning of a Yule Log, a tradition based on ancient European rituals. A piece of well-dried oak is customary and in Celtic tradition symbolized the Oak King, who in turn represented the waxing solar year.
The Yule Log is burned to encourage the return of the sun. The log can be decorated with holly—symbolizing the waning solar year—and can be carved with symbols of what you would like to release. An easier method is to cut green construction paper in the form of leaves and write on them whatever issues or patterns you would like to release from the past year. You then affix everyone’s leaves on the log and burn it in a fireplace, woodstove, or outdoor brazier.
You can create the ritual that feels the best to you for after the Yule Log is lit. In my family, we have around ten minutes of meditation with the fire, then we pass around the mulled cider and wine to toast the release of the old and the coming of the new. We sing carols and generally enjoy just being together, trusting in the magic of the night and the power of the sun to return. We also have a simple feast of stew or soup pre-prepared in a slow cooker, fresh bread, and cake (we like ginger-apple).
Some clients choose to make contact with spirit guides or spirit animals at this time, and we have crafted meditations for that purpose. Others prefer to celebrate alone and burn a smaller piece of wood in a cauldron or even a barbecue if they don’t have a fireplace. My outdoorsy clients have celebrated Winter Solstice while camping or have crafted fire pits in their backyard. It’s up to you!
If you don’t have oak, other wood will do. If you don’t have a place to burn wood, you can burn candles instead with a simple wooden candle holder. Intention, not perfection, is what makes rituals potent and effective.
Connecting With the Light
Another ritual for the eve of the Winter Solstice involves focusing on the returning Light and connecting to the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel is a messenger from the divine realms who can reveal higher-self wisdom, your soul’s purpose, and help you understand your own destiny.
This simple ritual is best done alone somewhere you can focus, although I know some who do it in small groups of three or four. Start by making an altar with a candle as the centerpiece. You can include greenery, flowers, crystals, whatever pleases you. I also like to use Tarot cards that represent qualities I would like to embody, such as Strength or the High Priestess. You can play soft, sacred music in the background or open a window if it’s warm enough. This is your ritual, so trust your intuition to make the right choice for you.
Next, write out a message to Gabriel telling him what you’d like guidance on for the coming year; think about areas of your life where you want to bring more light. Place that on the altar, and light your candle. Now, focus your gaze softly on the candle flame, perhaps closing your eyes halfway. Spend many moments observing your breath and the flame. Sit loosely with your mind—thoughts will come and go—let them.
When you feel ready, close your eyes and take the image of the flame inside your mind. Ask for the Angel Gabriel to come to you. Sit with the light and let it grow larger and larger. This will happen naturally. You may see it or you may not, but just know that the light is growing.
After a few moments, you will sense a being or presence in the light. Welcome Gabriel and thank him for coming. Allow his light and love to encompass you, and open your heart with gratitude and love. Tell him simply what you need help with—you can read from your paper briefly if you need to. Ask him to kindly bring you guidance, and thank him again. Sit a while in the light, and when it starts to wane, allow your consciousness to return slowly to the room. Open your eyes, and when you feel ready, gently extinguish your candle. Repeat this ceremony for the next two days while the sun rests at its lowest point in the sky. On the last day, let the candle burn to nothing if you safely can and burn your paper with your requests. As the days now begin to wax longer, know that some wisdom will come through for you.
In ancient cultures, priests and priestesses often created and performed these rituals on behalf of the tribe. Today, anyone is empowered to create a ritual and imbue it with meaning. A psychic or spiritual advisor can help if you feel shy or stumped as to how to do this. I love helping my clients reconnect to the holiday season and create a little space and simplicity amongst the busyness.
Would you like help tapping into ancient wisdom and ritual this holiday season? Advisors on Keen are ready to help you—why not call today?