Winter Solstice Rituals That Will Improve Your Outlook

A photo of a winter scene at Kananaskis Fire Lookout, Alberta, Canada. A great scene of the return to light after Winter Solstice rituals.
Kananaskis Fire Lookout, Alberta, Canada
Copyright © 2021 Lee Spirit 

Winter Solstice is one of my favourite spiritual times of the year, and it happens on Dec.21st, at around 9am MST. It is the darkest, longest night, after which the days grow lighter and longer again. While it’s sometimes difficult to go from the plentiful light of Summer into the darkness of pre-winter, it can also be a welcome relief to slow down, and go within. It’s like a break from the all the activities and adventures of Spring and Summer. A gentle slowing down in the Fall, and finally resting into the dark of winter nights. As Dylan Thomas writes in his poem, you may “rage, rage against the dying of the light”. However, I find some Winter Solstice rituals to be very soothing to the soul. They might even improve your outlook on life!

Why Are Winter Solstice Rituals a Big Deal?

You may think, “Big deal! It’s the shortest day, darkest night!” But Winter Solstice has been celebrated over the centuries, even before Christ! Rather than trying to describe all the various ceremonies and festivities that have taken place over time to celebrate the coming of the light, why not read about it yourself here to get some good history on the occasion!

What Winter Solstice Means To Me

I look for the spiritual meaning and significance in most things, including the Winter Solstice. Winter usually arrives well before the Solstice day, so the fact that it’s the first day of winter doesn’t seem right to me as a reason to celebrate! In fact, I don’t see Solstice as a time of celebrating. Rather, it’s a time of inward reflection, and I love my down-time as much as I love being active in the outdoors!

During this whole pandemic, the two things that have saved my soul are yoga (particularly kundalini yoga), and meditation (particularly silent meditation). Winter and its cold darkness make yoga and meditation even more desirable.

Solstice is a great time for a yoga and meditation practice because it’s like a portal between Dec.12th, and 21st. This portal allows us to reflect on our past year, and let go of that which doesn’t serve our highest purpose and path. Solstice reminds me of the birth-life-death-rebirth cycle of life, and what we want to let go of and bring forth in the coming year. Some may do this at New Years, some at Christmas, and others at Solstice.

Why choose Solstice time to practice the rituals? Simply because it is nature in action, and I always observe nature and listen to what it teaches me. We have both darkness and light within us. So when the sun lights up the earth, we play, and when it sets over the earth, we go within, and search for meaning. Let nature be your guide, rather than focusing on presents under the tree, what you got for Christmas, or sharing drinks as you ring in a new year. These times and rituals are symbolic and meaningful as well, but they don’t come from nature! Choose presence over presents!

Winter Solstice Rituals To Practice

Letting Go

One of the first Winter Solstice rituals you might think about practising is letting go. You can initiate this process by getting rid of things in your home that you no longer need, wear, or use. It’s a great feeling to do a giant purge, and give things away that someone else might be able to use. I love to give to Good Will! In the spirit of the season, give, give, give!

You can also “let go” by writing down what you want to release from your life, and then throwing it into a fire! There’s nothing more satisfying than watching this burn to ashes. It’s a true symbol of release and let-go when you can see what you no longer want dissolving right before your eyes.

We can also mentally “let go” of habitual patterns and tendencies that don’t aid in our growth and development. Maybe it’s putting an end to your video game, social media, alcohol, or drug addictions. These are only temporary bandaids, or quick fixes. Then we return to that same habit, behaviour, or addiction. We want to strive for lasting, sustained joy and happiness that doesn’t require returning to these temporary measures. We do that by finding presence within ourselves.

Winter Solstice rituals like letting go are great because it is the eve of the longest night, after which the light returns, and new growth can emerge. Oftentimes it takes letting go of something before change can occur.

Burning Incense, Sage, and Palo Santo

Once I’ve gotten rid of things I no longer need, Winter Solstice rituals like cleansing our spaces with scents that are pleasing to us are amazing. Sage and Palo Santo are often burned to clear a space of negative energies. These, as well as burning incense, also help to clear the mind space so we are better able to come into a place of presence within.

I love burning a stick of incense during a meditation or kundalini yoga practice. It’s good practice to take the burning Sage and Palo Santo carefully around your house, moving into the corners of the home. You can state your wishes for all negative energies to leave now. After this is done, it’s good to open a door or window for a few moments to allow the unwanted energies to leave. Wish them well, and they are on their way!

Again, Winter Solstice is a great time for cleansing our physical spaces and our mind spaces due to the time of transitioning between darkness to more light. Like nature, we can make the same transition, and embark on a new path of growth ahead. We are tiny buds of potential just waiting to burst forth into beautiful flowers.

Yoga and Meditation Practices

I’ve mentioned many times before that once we know what we want to let go of, and what we want to bring into our new year ahead, then a consistent practice of yoga and meditation can really help get you into a neutral space. This space allows more presence. It’s important to be present within yourself – aware of your senses and everything you feel – because this is what is real, in this moment, now.

From here, we are guided through the intuition and wisdom of our hearts. Doing yoga and meditation once is great, but it’s the consistent practice and discipline that will open up this space within. It is calming, makes you tingle, and helps you come into enlightened consciousness and bliss.

The Winter Solstice energies are potent, so this makes your practice of yoga and meditation that much more beneficial to you. Every day is a good day for yoga and meditation, but during moon cycles, sun cycles, and planetary cycles, everything shifts and changes, and so meditation is that much more powerful.

Epsom Salt Soaks & Salt Cave Therapy

Often at the time of Solstice, Christmas, and the new year, I crave a good float in an epsom salt float tank. With Covid, I haven’t been interested in this the past couple of years, and it probably can’t even operate!

This year, I’m soon to try my first Salt Cave Therapy session! Apparently 40 minutes in this salt cave is like 3 days by the ocean! It involves breathing in salty air particles to improve your breathing. The benefits of this “halotherapy” include that it “can treat respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and allergies. Others suggest it can also ease smoking-related symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing”. I am lucky enough to not have these issues, but seems a good thing to do while Omicron takes over the planet!

Winter Solstice and the new year is a fantastic time to not only cleanse your space, but also your body! Others may choose to do a dietary cleanse. All of these will create new space for creativity, magic, and new things to unfold in the coming year!

Friends, Family, Food, and Music

The Winter Solstice is a turning point from darkness to light. So we can celebrate, if we so desire, by gathering with friends and family, and sharing good food and music. We typically do this at Christmas and New Years, but why not try a Winter Solstice ceremony?

One of my favourite sacred ways to enter this new emergence of light is to attend a chant circle, or kirtan, and chant mantras that uplift the heart, soul, and spirit. It can be quite moving and often brings people to tears, which is a great release before we come into the light. It will bring you into the light of your soul.

The benefits of chanting mantras are that it clears a space for self-awareness, calmness, and releases anxiety and stress. It can be a mood booster, eases fatigue, and reduces depression, just to name a few benefits.

Light At Least One Candle on Solstice Night

On the longest night of the year, it’s a great spiritual practice to light at least one candle to bring some loving warmth to your heart and physical space. In the darkness of winter, we reflect on ourselves and the past year, and determine what we want more of going forward.

When the light comes, allow the light of your heart and soul to also shine. Imagine a white or golden light beaming out of your chest and spreading warmth and love to others and the planet. Awaken your soul in this time, and be who you really are. Let this single candle light represent the light of your soul. Bask in the warm glow of your heart energy, and spread it to others. Send warm wishes, and blessings to loved ones and everyone – even those you have struggled with.

Many blessings, and happy Winter Solstice to you! If you’ve enjoyed this read, I encourage you to also check out Mindfulness Activities For the Solstice!

Lee Spirit is an avid outdoors adventurer with a love for nature, photography, health & fitness, wellness, and spirituality. She helps those who suffer from anxiety & negative thinking to become healthier in mind-body-spirit. Her own personal journey has led her to the  study and practice of mindfulness, health, wellness, yoga, spirituality, sound healing, meditation, and personal development for over 20 years. Get mindfulness, meditation, and personal development tips in her Free Natural Mind Healing Report.

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