Winter Solstice: Rituals for a Fresh Start
Between work deadlines, gift wrapping, potlucks and traveling. many of us are feeling excited and maybe a little overwhelmed as we approach the holidays.
But the end of the year is much more than a time of shopping, errands and gatherings—it is a sacred time infused with magic and light—holding the possibility for bright new beginnings as we consciously close the door to the past.
Ancient traditions embraced the energetic shifts of this time by celebrating the rebirth of the sun on the Winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the life nurturing powers of the sun on the Summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, also falls around the end of the year as does Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus.
No matter where in the world we are and what our spiritual beliefs, Winter Solstice is a time when the universe gifts us with a bridge to leave behind what no longer serves us and cross over onto a new and illuminated path.
To help us hone the enchanted energies of the next few weeks, below are some practices to bless and release the past year and enter the new one with reverence, clarity and intention.
1. Process The Past
Before going forward, take the days preceding the solstice to reflect on the ups and downs of the closing year. Give thanks for all the wonderful experiences that enriched your life and your soul. Acknowledge all the things you are proud of. This will help you prepare for some deeper inner work ahead.
Now, think about the relationships, situations and patterns that gave you grief. On a blank sheet of paper, write down everything about these experiences that dropped you into fear—whether that showed up as anger, resentment, judgement, scarcity, anxiety or any other form of negativity.
As you journal, allo yourself to fully feel any pain that comes up. Breathe deep. Cry. Swear. Let it all out.
It may be difficult, but when we allow ourselves to face our deepest, darkest emotions, the very act of making them conscious is cathartic, allowing us to heal and move forward.
2. Release The Darkness
After processing your emotions, reflect on the lesson each difficulty brought you, because in every challenge there always an opportunity for growth. Once you extract the lesson, be willing to forgive everyone involved (including and especially ourselves) and let go of any toxic and self-sabotaging patterns.
At the very bottom of the sheet of paper, write something like this to affirm your decision:
“Dear Higher Self/God/Spirit/Universe: No matter what has happened in the past, I am now willing to release everything about it that brought me fear and pain. I surrender to you all that no longer serves me for healing, cleansing and purification. Help me to forgive and be forgiven by all involved. Align my vision that I may see everything from your enlightened perspective and move forward with wisdom, grace, strength and love. So be it.”
After writing an intention like the above, very safely burn the paper. This is an extremely powerful alchemical process where the element of fire represents the total transformation of whatever it is we have burnt, both metaphorically and energetically.
3. Clear Your Space
To further empower the above ritual, follow it up by smudging your body and home with sacred sage. Sage smudging is an ancient Native tradition where a dried bundle of the plant is burnt and its smoke used for space and energy clearing.
It is very powerful in removing negative energy and even unwanted spirits. Sage can purchased from most new age stores or dry it ourselves.
To perform the ritual, burn the sage bundle on one end—keeping an old plate underneath to catch ashes—and waft the smoke all around the body. After clearing our personal energy, wave the smoke around the corners and centers of each room in the home. Open all windows to release old energy and allow fresh air to flow through.
Support the energy clearing process by taking a sea salt bath or shower (just scrub some all over the body) to draw out further physical and etheric toxins. End by replenishing yourself with some fresh clean clothes, nourishing food and lemon water.
4. Let There Be Light
Whenever we let something go, we create room for something new to enter.
After releasing old emotional baggage and clearing both the physical and energetic space, you are now ready to consciously create a blissful beginning for the year ahead.
But before making New Year’s resolutions, that may come from a place of fear or lack—align with your higher-self to ensure that everything you wish to create comes from a place of truth and inspiration.
Ideally done on or just after the solstice, harness the auspicious energy of this new dawn by drawing back the drapes and lighting incense and candles.
If you practice yoga, it’s also a wonderful idea to begin our day with 12 rounds of sun salutations.
Then, carve out some quiet time to sit in meditation and visualize filling yourself with white and golden light.
Imagine this light coming from the radiance of the solstice sun, shining to and through you.
Now with the eyes closed, place your hands on the heart (to connect with its loving guidance) and rest your awareness on the third eye, in the center of the forehead (to connect with spirit’s wisdom).
“Dear Higher Self/God/Spirit/Universe: I now open to the greatest possibilities next year holds for me. Please show me the highest vision you have for me for the next year and for my life. Help me release all limitations and align my intentions with your most creative, abundant and expansive will for me. Show me how I can be of the greatest service as I live at my highest potential. Show me all the blessings you wish for me to experience and co-create with you.”
Let the visions flow without censoring or discarding them as wishful thinking, because what the spirit wants for us far exceeds what we may think is possible.
Feel free to fill in blanks by adding details that uplift and delight you. When you have seen what we were meant to, or after 15 minutes, close the meditation by bringing your awareness back to the breath.
Thank Spirit and open your eyes.
5. Prepare A New Path
Even if you didn’t see or sense any inspired visions, doing the above meditation still helps us connect with higher wisdom, so trust that it will guide and support us on our best path.
Now, write down new intentions in the present and positive.
For example, instead of, “I will pay off all my debts,” in which the energetic focus is still on lack, affirm abundance by stating “I open to financial peace, security and freedom.”
Once you have made the inspired intentions list, place it in a special place and refer to it whenever we need to get back on track.
Another great way to stay inspired is to create a vision board which reflects not so much the physical details of what we want to achieve, but rather the essence of what we want to feel.
This is one of the keys to co-creating, because it lets us focus on the emotion, which is our job, and allows the universe to work out the details, which is its job.
All we have to do then is stay clear and present enough to notice signs and follow our inner guidance to manifest our dreams.
Every ending marks a new beginning.
As we close this year with rituals to release what no longer serves us, keeping the growth and lessons and getting inspired by our new intentions, we honor the past, bless the present and empower the future.
Challenges will come up next year too, but as long as we stay true to our highest selves, we will stay focused and flexible enough to fulfill our highest paths.
No matter what dark times we faced this year, let us now harness the energy of these magical last days and invite a new year that is filled with the light-filled blessings of a beautiful new dawn.
Article originally published in elephant jounral.