The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. From a positive perspective, it means that we can begin to look forward to increasing daylight, even if it’s only one minute at a time. This year the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st at 4:48 p.m. EST.
I’ve done some reading about solstice rituals. Some people see them as pagan or witchcraft, but ancient and indigenous people celebrated the Winter Solstice as a turning point and an opportunity to release what no longer served them.
While a solstice ritual isn’t so common in our culture, we have many rituals in our lives to which we are attached, such as birthdays. With them, we celebrate another year of life by pausing to honor the event with birthday cards, parties, cakes, presents and even a special song everyone knows.
I believe that rituals can be whatever you choose. For me, the Winter Solstice is a time to say goodbye to things I need to release. Pausing for the ceremony serves as my “line in the sand” for releasing what doesn’t serve me anymore. These are things that compromise my attention, energy, and emotions. While a ritual doesn’t magically banish them from my life, it does serve to re-direct me to remember my commitment to let go of events that can preoccupy me. It’s worked well for me in the past few years.
My ritual is simple and meaningful to me. I write down on individual slips of paper each thing I want to release. I’ve given each of these a good deal of thought. This is when I really come face-to-face with how I can cling to past instances of anger or resentment, and even damaging relationships. I personally had to let go of Wade’s family’s voices in my head and reliving events after he died. I’ve let go of blaming, and the idea that I had to hold on to people who took too much from me. I would imagine that each one of us harbors something that holds our peace and wellbeing hostage. I believe that this is actually an act of compassion for myself, which I believe is the pre-cursor to compassion for others.
On the evening of the solstice, I have a burning ceremony. A small contained fire or even a candle placed in a fireproof receptacle works for this part. Before I burn each slip of paper, I pause and say a fitting, sometimes emotional goodbye, and with that I also honor the lessons I have learned. When I feel ready to release it, I burn the paper as an act of letting go, and watch it go up in smoke!
Even if this kind of ritual doesn’t appeal to you, I invite you to consider what you might want or need to release. A few months ago, I created the attached video to share with my women’s group. I thought I’d share with you because anytime is the right time to “Let Go”.
Happy Solstice, holidays and New Year.
Happy Solstice and New Year.