Tonight is the shortest day longest night of the year. Welcome to winter solstice what I consider the beginning of the Yule season and will continue for 12 days. Yule is the whole season, and winter solstice is usually considered the start of the season. The ideologies and rituals are steeped in history from mostly Germanic but also some Celtic culture. Many traditions for celebrating the solstice are prayers, candle ceremonies, and other rituals. There have also been some that have been modernized and adapted to surrounding culture and family needs. It is one of the beautiful aspects of many pagan beliefs is it’s ability to continue through change.
There are many traditions for celebrating winter solstice but my favorite one so far as been to stay up late, candles lit, lights turned down and to contemplate what the last year has brought me. It is simple ritual done to reflect upon the ups and down of the year that has passed in order to prepare the year to come.
Sometimes, I make a list of all the things that I’m ready to let go of so that I might make room for the new things I want in my life. I say goodbye to each one of these things in my own way, and either burn the list or tear it apart and toss it away. In doing so separating myself from what has become part of the past and opening myself to the future. Sometimes this means letting go of not just the negative things that have happened but also being grateful letting go of any good things that have happened. Why? In order to make room for more good and to make room for more growth, we must clear out that which is behind us.
So for today, as we enter into the eve of the winter solstice, I encourage you to write out that list of things that you are ready to let go off and turn it into a ritual. Light candles. Sit alone and listen to the silence.
In the morning, after that long night, welcome the new year. For now the days only get longer and the nights shorter. Be thankful for the rising Sun. And I encourage you that instead of waiting for New Year’s day to make resolutions, that you instead use this first day of light to reflect on and write down what it is you want to invite into your life for the next year. Not resolutions, invitation.
Have a lovely winter solstice and welcome to the Yule season.