Today is the shortest day and the longest night of the year for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It is simultaneously the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. As we begin our Winter, the planet is simultaneously at Summer's peak.
The harmony and duality of night and day are most pronounced today, which gives us an invitation to check in with ourselves and with nature.
The long night of the Winter Solstice is akin to the New Moon on the Wheel of the Year. When we work with the Moon, we use the New Moon phase to create new intentions.
Inevitably come January 1st there will come a rush of "New Year, New You!" marketing emails from gyms, nutrition plans, and retailers. I understand it, but I personally find that message rings hollow. Winter has only just begun and the explosion of new growth in Spring is still far away.
If we think of the Wheel of the Year as an extension of a lunar cycle, we can recognize that this time of darkness is a time to look inward, ask for guidance, deliberately set intentions, and enjoy quiet and stillness.
With that in mind, here are some ideas to help you maximize the power of the Solstice today. And remember, there are 12 days of Yule, so enjoy feeling that the Sun is standing still for you all 12 days!
I have a Swedish friend who, when describing winter in her home town explained to me, "The candles are everything." It's hard to impart the beauty, emphasis, and passion of her tone on the page, but I think you can imagine. It will be dark in San Francisco today by 4:55 PM, so I plan to illuminate my space for hours before bed.
Yule Fire Log
The Pagans who gave us many of the traditions that are now incorporated into much of Christianity described the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. By placing holly on an oak log, you can invoke the ancient tradition of lighting a Yule log. If you don't have a fireplace, you can place your candles on the log as the centerpiece.
I have been hearing from everyone, clients, friends, and family how much stress and anxiety there is right now. I am sure that not everyone enjoys hearing my suggestion to meditate, but it works! If you are feeling like there is too much to do and not enough time in the day, I promise you that 10 minutes of guided meditation can help you regain the serenity you seek.
Often, we are asked about New Year's resolutions at a party before midnight and then again in the first week of the year. Resolutions are not best made on the spot. No wonder so many people hate the idea of resolutions. If you have felt tethered to unrealistic goals in the past, it needn't be that way. Resolutions are just another way of setting intentions.
If you surround yourself with candles in a warm room, perhaps by a Yule fire, and meditate for 10 minutes, you will be in an ideal frame of mind to do some powerful intention setting.
What were some of your New Moon intentions this year? Did you say "yes" to anything this year that surprised and delighted you? Did you learn any new boundaries from any powerful "nos"? Where would you like to feel more nourished? What are you ready to clear and release before stepping forward?
To grow, we need space. When the Christmas decorations that are in storage all year suddenly fill your space, paperwork from a full year of life and work fill your desk, and your to-do list is longer than Santa's, it can feel great to get rid of some things. Take a look at your wardrobe and get rid of a few items you haven't worn all year (or in years!).
It is a struggle for me to purge objects from my life because I see the anime in all the clothes, nick-nacks, and objects around me. What helps is to know that by getting rid of things that I'm not actually using, despite nostalgia or their value, I am making space for the unexpected.
Choose a word of the year. The same Swedish friend of mine who imparted her candle wisdom to me also gave me this idea for this Solstice that I think is genius. And who better to take advice on Winter from than the Swedes?
It's funny that I went to a Catholic High School, but it wasn't until I was in a college semiotics class that I realized the power in the quote, "In the beginning, was the word, and the word was God." To bring language, to name a thing, is an act of creation.
Consider what your 2022 word might be. Strength? Resilience? Health? Simplify? Expanse? Like your intentions, the word is not an iron-clad contract, but rather an act of deliberate and intentional creation of your future.
The exercise of collaging images that you like is as fun as an adult as it was in grade school. The above image is a stock photo. I wish that I had taken a photo of my own 2021 vision board to show you, but I already took it down to cut out the images I want to carry into 2022!
I have been amazed every time that I create a vision board and keep it in a place where I can see it, how magically my imagination becomes reality. One phrase that I put on my board for 2021 was "Atlas of My Dreams".
I didn't really have any specific idea what that would mean, I just liked the sound of it. Sure enough, because I started to practice lucid dreaming with this post, I began talking about my dreams a lot. In retelling one specific dream the words, "atlas of my dreams" came spilling out of me because I had become my own dream cartographer!
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.
However you choose to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the 12 days of Yule, I hope it is restorative and kind. I'm sending all joy and smiles to you today this first day of Winter!