The Winter Solstice has always fascinated me, often described as the shortest day of the year, we are often surprised at the early sunsets, the lack of daylight, getting (as I would always think) worse and worse until the 22 December before 'things start looking up'. We always look forward to spring, to warmer weather and spring flowers, however the winter solstice should be celebrated for the longest hours of darkness – traditionally it marks the rebirth of the Sun. According to Forever Conscious, the winter solstice holds a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal, and self-reflection. That is definitely a reason to celebrate in my book.
I have been journaling for some time, after being advised to return to this practice – as a teenager I always kept a journal and I found it really helpful, almost like talking out the challenges that you face with a good friend – this way you work out your solutions yourself (sometimes). My urge to continue with this practice coincides with the solstice, and it's an optimum time to reflect on the year that is about to pass.
In Pagan times the Winter Solstice was referred to as Yule (sound familiar?) and was a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy. It was believed that on this day, the Moon would give birth to the Sun. It is a time when dark relinquishes to light, or light reigns over darkness. Many believed it was a sign of good things to come, and certainly in my house it signifies that the gloom of the winter nights will soon give way to light and warmth.
Winter Solstice, like the Summer Solstice was also celebrated with fire, however, while the Summer Solstice signifies fertility, the Winter Solstice was honoured as a time of birth or the start of a new cycle.
The Yule log was harvested (ideally from the householder's land or given as a gift), brought into the house and decorated with greenery (think holly and berries, etc.) It was then doused with cider or ale (I'm seeing a departure from current tradition now). It was dusted with flour (accomplishment of triumph light and life) and set alight. It would burn all night and then smoulder for 12 days (notice the significant number in our traditional Christmas celebrations) before being ceremoniously extinguished.
Today, there are many ways you can celebrate the Winter Solstice such as spending time writing in a journal, inner reflection, meditation, and energy clearing. I have already done some Reiki this morning, and will spend some time reflecting before the day is over.