Here in the United States, we succeed at marking the Winter Solstice with a fierce pagan feast of electric lights, beauty, music, and gift-giving called Christmas.
Of course we need a festival of light and song and gift-giving to bolster our spirits at Winter Solstice time because it’s the point of the year when the days are darkest and shortest and our magical energy is at its natural low-ebb. Because the light from the sun is very scarce in late December, our personal energy and our outward-extending magic are usually likewise at their lowest points of the year at this time.
Our culture of efficiency demands that we keep up the same pace insane of production no matter what the season – so we generally do a good job of covering up this low-energy point with caffeine and merriness and nice cozy heat from furnaces. We do this so that we can keep powering-through our daily tasks without going into deep hibernation. Still, our energy bodies flag around this time of year and it’s important to respect that.
By being aware of the way that the season affects our energy and our magic, we can be gentler and easier with ourselves.
So here are three ways that the Winter Solstice affects your magic:
1. It causes you to be inward and reflective rather than energetic and action-oriented.
A wise astrologer once told me that the Winter Solstice is to the sun as the New Moon is to the moon. It’s the darkest, lowest ebb in the cycle. A lot of us have realized that the New Moon is a great time for introspection and staying home with a good book or movie, and a not-so-great time for going out with friends. That’s because this ebbing energy is best suited for inwardness and quietness.
If the energy is low and introspective at a New Moon, and the moon cycles every 28 days, imagine how low the energy must be at the low ebb of the sun, which cycles every 365 days. Friends, it’s low.
Thus, while you may be tempted to keep go-go-going all season long to Christmas parties, Solstice gatherings, Hannukah celebrations, etc. make sure you set aside at least several evenings during this low ebb for quiet reflection. You may also find that holiday parties “take more out of you” than parties at other times of the year – and this isn’t just because your co-workers and relatives are annoying. It’s because your energy actually isn’t naturally expansive and social right now.
The days before the Winter Solstice are an excellent time to take a loving, non-judgmental inventory in your journal of what you’ve learned and achieved in the past year, and to notice and celebrate how you’ve grown in your magic and expression of power.
2. It reminds you to draw upon the help of plants.
Because your energy is ebbing with the sun, and you’re probably not planning on sleeping and softly praying all through this ebb, I suggest that you get serious about supplementing your usual self-care with a more rigorous attention to energy-supporting and immune-response-boosting herbs.
I’m a big fan of Urban Moonshine’s Energy Tonic which features adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola and ginseng to help your body cope with winter stress. And no, the good folks at Urban Moonshine are not paying me to say this. (Although if they happen to read this, I sure would love for you to send me some products to review! Get at me, herbalists!)
I felt super-low last week after recovering from a tooth infection, and frequent daily doses of the Energy Tonic along with large quantities of cold-pressed green juice and grass-fed butter helped me revive my usual joie de vivre. I’ve also started dosing myself with Astragalus to bolster my immune response.
Aromatherapy-wise, it’s a of course great idea to elevate your mood by using warming seasonal classics like clove, cinnamon, peppermint, orange, cedar, and pine oils in a diffuser or dotted on your wrists. I also like to go all-out Three Kings style and get into the Frankincense and Myrrh.
3. It gives extra depth to your dreams.
Because the external light of the sun is at its lowest point, there’s a receptive darkness and quietness in your being. Into that darkness and quietness dreams can come that are more significant and symbolic than usual. Anyone who’s kept a dream journal can tell you that often dreams are fun to analyze, but can involve a lot of rather obvious stuff.
For example – there’s a level of my unconscious I like to call Captain Obvious. When I have the hots for someone, Captain Obvious will have me dream about having sex with that someone. If I’m anxious about my performance at a job, Captain Obvious will give me a dream of being yelled at my boss after forgetting to wear pants to work. Like, gee, what great mystery these dreams doth bring. I wonder what they’re trying to tell me? I have an attraction? I’m anxious? Pffft. I already knew that.
But then again we also know that sometimes dreams come through our nightly adventures that are more than just re-scramblings of our daily desires and fears. These kinds of dreams feel weighty, rich, and can strike us through with awe.
The Winter Solstice is a prime time for weighty dreams. It’s a season when myth and symbol and wonder stir with extra sparkle in the dark of the unknown.
Hollywood instinctively knows this, by the way, which is why it tends to put out lavish fantasy adventure tales like Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings stuff out around this time of year. There’s an old, old, impulse to gather around a fire (or giant silver screen) and hear stories with inspiring and intense mythic weight at this dark time of year.
In other words, if you’ve been neglecting the practice, this is an excellent time to work on recalling your dreams again. Each night before you go to sleep tell yourself “I’m going to remember my dreams. I sure am a great dream re-memberer. I am very much going to wake up and remember my dreams!’ and then upon waking, before you even get up to go to the bathroom (this is the hard part for me!) grab your journal by your bedside and jot down notes about your nightly experience.
This is also an excellent time to start a holiday tradition of storytelling with your family. You can start by spinning a greatly-exaggerated yarn about your family’s adventures of the past year.
Go easy on yourself this Winter Solstice season. Now isn’t so much the time for big manifestation projects as it is for reflection, fortifying, and making room in your soul to receive inspiration from the light as it starts to grow in strength again.
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