December 21, 2019 marks the Winter Solstice, which is the official beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Astrologically, the Winter Solstice marks the moment the Sun -- the ruler of the zodiac -- moves from adventurous Fire sign Sagittarius to the steady Earth sign of Capricorn.
This is the dark night of the year, a day when the Sun appears to stand still. It also comes right on the heels of New Year, which encourages people to usher out the old to make room for the new. It's a time for light and laughter but also deep contemplation.
Use these Winter Solstice rituals to help you reflect on the past and release what is needed, so you can start off 2020 on the right foot!
Fire is viewed as a source of purification and rebirth, and in many cultures, symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. So, it's only fitting that performing a burning ceremony would help set you up for success. Write down the things you want to let go of on pieces of paper: hurt feelings, lingering grudges, a toxic relationship, or anything else that has been holding you back. Burn each strip one by one, focusing your intention on setting yourself free from these emotional anchors. The "death" of these papers makes way for the "birth" of a more positive future. Just remember to burn responsibly by using a heat-resistant bowl in an open space!
Smudging, which many people refer to as "burning sage," is an ancient spiritual practice used to boost your mood, ease stress, and rid yourself and your surrounding environment of negative energies. While this would be a beneficial ritual on its own, it would also be a great companion to the burning ceremony! Smudge sticks come in a variety of types: sage, cedar, juniper, rosemary, and more. White sage is one of the common herbs used in smudging and is known for its cleansing and healing properties. Clear out negativity and dark energies by lighting one of these sticks and running the smoke from it throughout your rooms, over specific objects, or even on yourself!
Journaling is an excellent intention-setting practice because it encourages you to take the time to sit down and reflect in a way that often gets overlooked in the frenzied pace of everyday life. Grab a notebook and a pen and start writing! There's no right or wrong way to journal. It's simply about putting your thoughts into words. What did you do right this year? What do you wish you had done differently? What are you hoping for in the year ahead? What's standing in your way? The things you write will help you focus your time and energy on what's truly important you as you move forward.
Lighting a candle
The Winter Solstice marks the return of light, reminding you that just when you thought it couldn't any darker in your life, a light will appear at the end of your tunnel. Light a candle and focus on the flickering flame, allowing yourself to embrace the warmth and hope the glow of the candle brings. Imagine the flame as a symbol of the coming year. Consider how you want your own flame to grow, and how you'll spread your light out into the world. If you are doing this ritual with others, light individual candles and then take turns sharing your hopes with one another.
Sharing a feast
Ancient solstice festivals were the last big feasts before food became scarce during the harsh winter months. Winter festivals continue today, complete with large meals, dancing and singing, and spending quality time with loved ones. You can host your own solstice soiree by cooking an elaborate dinner, serving wassail (mulled cider), and cutting loose with your loved ones. This is a time to eat, drink, and be merry!
No matter how you end up celebrating the solstice, use the Sun's time in Capricorn wisely. Lay the groundwork for your future by considering where you've been, as well as where you want to go. Just make sure to keep some of the Goat's ambitious energy alive when the Sun makes its next move!