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6 Winter Solstice Rituals to Celebrate the Return of the Light

6 Winter Solstice Rituals to Celebrate the Return of the Light

Winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The word solstice comes from sol (sun in Latin) and stice, which stems from the verb sistere, meaning to stand still. This is because the sun is on one of two points on the ecliptic furthest from the celestial equator and appears to be at a standstill ~ at Winter Solstice, it is reaching the lowest point in the sky that it will travel.

The Winter Solstice (also known as Yule in Pagan tradition) falls on a date between December 20th and 23rd, depending on the year. Yule is a celebration of the returning light and the rebirth of the Sun, so fire has been a large part of the celebrations since around the 5th Century.

The burning of the Yule log every evening until Twelfth Night (6th January) is historically a relatively more recent tradition in Europe, and while many people do still enjoy lighting a fire, burning candles is more popular in the darkest days of the year.

Importantly for those who follow the astrological energies of the year, the Winter Solstice always marks the entry of the Sun into serious Capricorn as it leaves jovial Sagittarius. The start of astrological winter is a good time for us to mimic the slowness of nature and come to our own standstill, to assess our high points of the year and consider what we might meditate on before the new calendar year begins.

Looking for ways to celebrate and mark this significant moment in the natural rhythms of the Earth? Here are 6 Winter Solstice rituals to help you enjoy the slower pace.

1. Draw an archetype card

Drawing an archetype card is a good way of seeing what energy you may need more of at this time of year and which might be the signature of the next six months.

Don’t forget that we all embody all twelve archetypes all the time ~ simply that each represents a varying percentage of the make-up of our Self. So the one that is drawn to you may be the one that requires a little more attention.

Do you need to be a bit more of a Rebel when it comes to your usual festive holiday plans? Or perhaps you’re the Lover, softening into the celebrations and smoothing out any family frustrations? Head to our online spinner to draw your virtual card.

2. Create a Winter Solstice nature table

Going for winter walks can be wonderful for wellbeing, ensuring that the skin receives whatever sunlight is on offer and the body’s natural circadian rhythm is kept in check.

While out walking, keep an eye out for sprigs of seasonal greenery or interesting architectural pieces of foliage like dried seed heads. Before Christmas trees became traditional, this is what people would do to create wreaths and trimmings for the mantle piece.

Never take more than you need and collect from different trees and plants so as not to cause damage. Once home, you can arrange your finds around a large candle and add to them with some items from the spice cupboard (which have the added bonus of smelling warm and comforting). Use items such as:

  • Pine cones ~ pine cones are in abundance at this time of year, but a pine cone gathered on Midsummer’s Day is considered a magical object (so bear that in mind come June!)

  • Dried orange slices ~ oranges have traditionally been a symbol of the sun. Blood oranges will offer ruby red brightness to the colour palette.

  • Cinnamon sticks tied with festive ribbon ~ cinnamon symbolises protection.

  • Whole star anise ~ these symbolise healing and add texture with their beautiful natural star shapes.

  • Stems of pine ~ in the Celtic Tree Ogham, pine stands for seeing clearly and developing foresight; a powerful benefit before the start of January.

  • Holly leaves ~ symbolic of eternal life and the handing over of energy to the Oak which will come into full bloom at the Summer Solstice .

3. Meditate on gratitude

Spend a moment to sit in gratitude for the year you’ve had, and all that the natural world has brought into your life through the year’s seasons.

Being grateful has become something of a performative trend thanks to social media, but the scientific evidence links gratitude to a whole host of psychological benefits.

A 2003 randomised trial where people wrote about what they considered to be their blessings every week for 10 weeks reported feeling more optimistic about the week ahead. Following this, a 2005 study asked people to simply write down “Three Good Things” at the end of each day for a week. Those involved in the trial reported feeling increased happiness even six months after.

Consider starting a gratitude journal where you can write down at least three good things that happened each day ~ from the most delicious cup of tea or coffee you had in the morning to the beauty of the fading light in the evening, no detail is too small or insignificant.

Aim to keep up the practice until Spring Equinox (20th March) and assess your wellbeing levels then as we move into the new season and a shift in energy.

4. Indulge in a Winter Solstice beauty ritual

The winter can bring harsher conditions to the skin, and it’s not uncommon for skin to feel dry, sensitised or perhaps a little weather-worn.

Whether Winter Solstice finds you in the midst of a fully-booked social season or you’re slowing down and enjoying some Me time, the skin always welcomes a scheduled beauty ritual. le masque infini is packed full of active ingredients that not only deep cleanse but also hydrate, making it effective in just 10 to 12 minutes.

Because it contains Kaolin Clay and Activated Charcoal, renowned for their ability to absorb and remove impurities, we don’t recommend you keep it on for longer than that amount of time to avoid the possibility of drying the skin (especially if you have dry or combination skin).

However, we do love using our oil-to-milk cleanser , la lune de velours, as a follow-up treatment because although it’s exceptional for removing make-up, it can also be used as a leave-on mask. In fact, make-up artist Lisa Eldridge enjoys using it to carry out a “nice, long facial massage.” Simply leave the lightweight balm on for as long as you’d like and rinse off using the fina silk sea sponge that it comes with for gentle exfoliation and to reveal beautifully dewy, smooth skin.

If your skin is often drier in winter, treat it with the best face oils for dry skin .

5. Make a bright, nourishing soup

Cooking a nourishing meal with ingredients that encourage brightness is a wonderful way to honour the solstice. A delicious batch of soup with seasonal vegetables is just one idea, leaning towards ingredients in hues of orange and yellow to honour the light as the earth begins to invite it in once again.

Visit your local market and seek out ingredients like winter squash, carrots, pumpkins and turnips. Try a squeeze of orange, the fruit of the sun, to bring even more solstice energy, and spices like ginger to build a fire in the belly as it settles into the longest night and prepares for the sun’s warmth to come.

These vegetables are also high in beta-carotene, a compound that the body converts into Vitamin A, which is vital for healthy skin. Add potatoes or celeriac to bulk the soup out if needed. Starting with a base of chopped onions (known for their anti-inflammatory power), you could also add fresh grated turmeric root to the mix, which will support the immune system in the depths of cold and flu season.

6. Plant flowering or edible bulbs

Planting bulbs is a wonderful way of creating something to look forward to during the shortest days.

Bulbs commonly planted at this time of year include tulips, daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses, and irises. The rule of thumb is to try and plant 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost so your bulbs can settle and establish roots. However, bulbs are hardy little things, and some even thrive in harsh conditions, so can be planted up until the first frost in December.

If edibles are more your thing, shallots and garlic are actually traditionally planted on the Winter Solstice (and harvested at the Summer Solstice). You can plant in pots indoors until they’ve established themselves before planting out, or push them directly into an outdoor bed with good drainage, and which receives sunlight as the days get longer.