Celebrating the Winter Solstice

12 Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Welcome to the Winter Solstice which officially happens on December 21st.  The solstice represents the longest night of the year and celebrates the Wiccan holiday of Yule.

The history of the term Yule is speculative, but it may refer to the Saxon word for “wheel.”  This could reference the wheel of the year as well as the wheel of the sun.  The celebration of Yule has origins in the Roman observation of Saturnalia, which was held from December 17 to December 25.

Saturnalia was a feast to honor the return of the god Saturn.  This represented a time of peace and bounty with no war or work.  Because of the season, fields didn’t need to be plowed, and the land had already provided.  There was no need to toil with a harvest.  Eventually, Saturn would be overthrown by Jupiter, and as the seasons changed, the need to farm would arise again.

Today, Yule is linked with the observance of the Nativity.  Much like Saturnalia, Yule is associated with a time when much of the outdoor work is done.

The Winter Solstice was also unique in pre-Christian times as it was known as a time of having fresh meat.  Veggies were available in the summer, but winter was a time to harvest meat since it would keep in the cooler temps without needing to be salted.  Food was stockpiled and ale was brewed, so this solstice is known for feasts and leisure.

The Yule log represents the god of nature and vegetation; he is the Green Man who is cut down during the harvest, only to be reborn and live again.  Harvesting, decorating, and burning the Yule log is one of the rituals that can be performed during the solstice.

Traditionally, the Yule log was oak, but since many of us live in cities, we can also use a part of a Christmas tree.  Remember to treat whatever log you use with reverence as you would any other ritual tool.

If your log is relatively dry, you can stabilize it by either flattening part of it or rolling it until it comes to rest naturally.  Once it’s stable, drill eight small equidistant holes in which you can place candles.  If you don’t want to drill holes in the log, you can burn eight candles in glass containers to celebrate the return of the light in the coming days.  If you have a fireplace, you can burn your log, but make sure to save a piece of it to light next year’s fire. 

To tap into the power of the Winter Solstice, you can use a variety of crystals to reflect on your year.  As your log or candles burn, you can hold or meditate with snow quartz, snowflake obsidian, ruby, or garnet and reflect on the following:

  • What am I most grateful for this year?
  • What is the biggest challenge I overcame this year, and what did it teach me?
  • In what ways did I honor myself this year?
  • What is the most important piece of wisdom I learned this year?
  • What area of my life do I plan to nurture more as the sun is reborn and the days lengthen?

The Winter Solstice is a time of leisure, feasting, and celebration.  It marks the completion of the year and the upcoming return of the sun in future days.  It is a time to give thanks and appreciate what you have created and to prepare for a new season of growth and prosperity.

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Written by Brooke Davis

Brooke Davis is a tarot teacher and wellness coach who enjoys helping the tarot-curious learn about the cards by using intuition and insight, not just definitions from a book.  Her four-course Tarot 101 series is offered online through Discover Your Spiritual Gifts. Register for the next session here.

Information for this post was taken from The Wiccan Year by Judy Ann Sock.


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