This Thursday December 21st is the Winter Solstice, marking the longest night of the year. It's the first official day of winter and begins the season of Yule, which celebrates the rebirth of the Sun
On the Solstice the Sun appears to stand still, or in Latin solstitium.
In ancient times we would honor this time of darkness with rest. It’s ironic that today this is the busiest time of year for many.
The natural world is embracing stillness at this time, and to help us do the same, I've got some Yule ideas for your winter reset.
And remember, there are 12 days of Yule, so there is no rush to enjoy. This is a time to relax, reset and begin to settle in for the hibernation energy of winter.
1) Candles, Candles, Candles!
Candles play a central role in Yule celebrations. They symbolize the triumph of light over darkness and adding a warm, while literally illuminating festivities.
If you want to get colorful, White candles symbolize purity and the return of light, while green candles represent the evergreen aspect of Yule. Red candles can symbolize the life force and the sun, and gold candles represent the sun's warmth and energy.
Since this is the last Sabbath in 2023 on the Wheel of the Year, you might consider setting up your candles in a a circle. I love to place votive candles on the windowsill and watch as the cold condenses on the glass.
2) Connecting with Nature
This is the absolute worst time of year to drive a car in my opinion. Delivery trucks are double parked, everyone is in a hurry, and of course, it's dark! When we connect to nature we can recharge, away from the chaos of malls and traffic.
This is an absolutely free way to honor yourself and the season. Just bundle up your warmest gear and take a walk outside. Bring evergreen branches and pine cones inside for decoration. You don't need to stay up late to enjoy stargazing on the longest night of the year.
3) The Spirit of Giving
One of the core principles of Yule is the spirit of giving. As the old year wanes and a new one approaches, individuals are encouraged to reflect on the blessings in their lives and share their abundance with others. When we expand our concept away from ‘presents’ to include acts of kindness, the idea of giving takes a different tone.
Are there food items you can donate that are more delightful than the cans in the back of the pantry? Try and take a breath when someone steals your parking spot and see your patience as a kindness. Rather than allowing your family to push your buttons, give everyone around you the gift of peaceful interactions.
4) Light a Fire
The harmony and duality of night and day at the solstice are an ideal time to check in with ourselves and with nature. Building a fire outdoors it is a great place to be in nature and with friends, though a Yule log fire is a little different and special.
If you can find a log of oak or ash that's ideal. if you can't find these or you can't build a proper fire, you can simply place candles on a log to create a centerpiece of warm light. As the fire burns, enjoy the stillness of the night and celebrate the return of light ahead.
I personally love to cook, and there's no better time to be near a warm oven than on a cold day. Slow slow roasted meats, root vegies and kale, and of course baked sweet treats are all ways to celebrate Yule. Decorate your table and toast with friends and loved ones.
Meditation is one of the best ways to connect with stillness of the season. You don't need to have a dedicated meditation practice to get the benefit of a short meditation.
Find a Comfortable Position: Begin by finding a comfortable seated position or lying down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
Visualize a Winter Landscape: Envision a serene winter landscape. Picture a snow-covered forest with tall, ancient trees, their branches adorned with glistening snow. Feel the crisp, cool air on your skin and notice the soft glow of moonlight.
Connecting with Stillness: As you immerse yourself in this winter scene, embrace the stillness that comes with the season. Feel the quiet energy of the earth as it rests and rejuvenates during the longest night. Allow this stillness to permeate your being, calming your mind and bringing a sense of peace.
Reflecting on the Past Year: Take a few moments to reflect on the past year. Consider the challenges and successes, the lessons learned, and the personal growth you've experienced. Acknowledge the journey you've been on and express gratitude for the experiences that have shaped you.
Welcoming the Returning Light: Visualize a faint glow on the horizon, the first light of the returning sun. As you focus on this light, recognize it as a symbol of hope, renewal, and the promise of brighter days ahead. Embrace the knowledge that, just as the sun returns, so too does the light and warmth in your own life.
Setting Intentions for the Coming Year: With the returning light in mind, set a positive intention for the coming year. What aspects of your life would you like to illuminate and nourish? Envision your goals, aspirations, and the positive changes you wish to bring into your life. Feel the energy of these intentions resonating within you.
Gratitude and Closing: Conclude the meditation by expressing gratitude for the stillness, the lessons of the past, and the potential of the future. Take a few deep breaths, gradually bringing your awareness back to the present moment.
7) Create A Vision Board
The exercise of cutting and pasting together the images that you like is as fun as an adult as it was in grade school.
I enjoy the practice of Vision Boarding so much that I will actually be hosting a workshop, EnVison 2023 on Sunday January 21st, 2024.
The above image is my 2023 Vision Board, and I love looking at all ways the images I selected at the beginning of this year have manifested in my life.
There are really no rules when it comes to vision boards, the point is to inspire you to realize your dreams and goals on a daily basis.
To begin your vision board, first consider what matters most to you. If you want to make different boards for specific areas of your life (work, love, health, etc.) that is great. If you want to put it all on one board, that is fine too.
Next pull out magazines and catalogues and start cutting. Anything that strikes you or aligns with your goals, paste it to your board. You can even make a digital board on Pinterest.
Make sure the words you use are bold and clear. Your images should be colorful, memorable, and vivid. You’ll be looking at this a lot, so make sure you enjoy seeing it!
There is no wrong way to make a vision board, just find images and words in magazines, and collage them together. If you want to make different boards for specific areas of your life (work, love, health, etc.) that is great. If you want to put it all on one board, that is fine too.
The important thing is to put your board somewhere that you can look at it frequently. It doesn’t need to be in a secret place, but nobody is allowed to judge or criticize your vision.
I should mention that if you are interested in attending my workshop, there will be a lot more guidance and tools for how to make your vision board work for you. You can read more and sign up here.
And there you have it! I hope these ideas spark joy and begin the season of restoration. However you choose to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the 12 days of Yule, I’m sending joy and smiles to accompany you!