I hope you all feel well and that you enjoy the Yuletide.
Today I want to share some information about the Winter Solstice, that we celebrate here in the northern hemisphere between December 20th and December 23rd.
Feel free to watch the video above, as a share a bit more information in it, as well as a Tarot Spread.
The northern Europeans of our Celtic past believed that the wheel stopped turning briefly at this crucial point as one cycle ended and a new cycle of the sun began.
It was taboo to rotate any wheels at the Winter Solstice, from cartwheels to butter churns, as they waited for the return of the sun.
The solstice was a moment to stop, to look backwards in inner reflection and to look forward to a new active season as the sun’s returning power brings increased daylight, growth and activity. From now on the days will lengthen and the warmth will come again. This was an import moment in the Celtic past. Megalithic monuments acknowledged this return of the sun.
To understand this moment, it is important to realize that this festival is not the beginning, in a linear way of looking at things, but a rebirth within a cycle in which the starting point chosen here is part of a vibrant whole.
Since Samhain, the Earth has been withdrawn within itself. The darkness of the receding daylight hours has been felt by all of nature and humankind. Root energy has been strengthend, the dream world explored, mysteries understood. The deep wisdom of the unconscious has brought spiritual insights. The old year has died, and through reflection and assimilation, the way is now prepared for rebirth of the active principle.
Homes were decorated with evergreens such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, yew, and pine, all of which represented the cycle of everlasting life.
Other traditional customs for the Winter Solstice included Yule logs, door wreaths to symbolize the Wheel of the Year, feasting, gifts, dancing, masks, mystery plays, processions, decorated trees, and candlelight. These were to honor the return of the sun and the cycle of life.
A traditional story told at the Winter Solstice tells of a Sun King who ripened the harvest of Lammas and was sacrificed back into the land within the seed. He stays underground as the Lord of the Underworld and at the Winter Solstice he is reborn as the Lord of the Light, the Sun God.
Another story is the tale about the Wild Hunt, there are many different versions of it, but it is often associated with the time between the Winter Solstice and twelfth night.
During the time of the Wild Hunt it is safer to stay indoors, no laundry should be hung up, because the Hunt could get tangled up in it or the leader of the Wild Hunt could use it to keep it as your burial shroud. The Wild Hunt is often accompanied by barking dogs, or by horses and in many stories the Wild Hunt gathers the souls of the dead.
Winter brings the hardships of cold and shortness of daylight. Very little outer growth has happened, but deep within the earth, roots have been growing, bringing stability and nutrients to the plants and trees. All of nature has slowed down, waiting for the energy to change and for warmth to return. Due to the restraints of winter, we too have slowed down and have been conserving energy. We have spent time withdrawn within ourselves.
The time between Samhain and Yule or the Winter Solstice, is the darkest time of the year. As the outer world is darkened by the shorter days and the cloudy and cold weather, the inner realms can expand. This has been a great opportunity for us to experience the world within ourselves.
We bring the wisdom of our inner journeys out into the world, to grow with the increasing light from the sun.
So what can you do on this day ?
-You can make a fire, often referred as the Yule log, traditionally a log of oak, as it has a connection to the Sun King. You can use the log to absorb and clear energies, thoughts and feelings you wish to purify, transform and release into the fire. Write on a piece of paper what you want to release and burn it in the fire. Releasing old stuck energy opens the way for new beginnings. You can also use a birch besom to brush out the old year, the morning after Winter Solstice.
-Make your own candles, use herbs that represent new beginnings and clarification to add to your home made candles.
-If possible go to a special high place before sunrise, you can greet the sun with drums, songs or whatever you like.
Celebrate this day with friends or family and experience the feeling of belonging to a tribe. Focus on your spirit of generosity and let your heart open in gratitude for all the good people in your life.
This is my last video for the Wheel of the Year, I really hope that you enjoyed this series.
I don't know yet how I will approach the Wheel of the Year for the upcoming year on my YouTube channel, as I personally prefer the way I did it already. If you have any suggestions, please let me know here in the comments, or on YouTube.
Much Love and many Yuletide Blessings