Winter Harmony, c. 1890/1900, John Henry Twachtman

Happy winter solstice to all who celebrate it! 🙂 I hope that you are healthy and safe!

I’ve been celebrating the winter solstice for several years now. Still, it wasn’t until this year that I truly understood what it meant to me. In the past years, I simply went through the motions of celebrating, copying what others were doing without thinking about WHY I was doing it. This year I’ve realized that the winter solstice feels more like the “New Year” than January 1st does (at least to me). It’s the longest night, the night where we have so much time to reflect on our personal solstices of the year. What was our highest point of the year? What was our lowest? How can we let it all go and start the cycle anew? 

I want to share some of the activities I like to do on the winter solstice. I don’t do all of them (who has the energy for that??). I held a vigil this year, listened to witchy podcasts, and watched the Newgrange Livestream. Remember that your practice should be intuitive and unique to YOU! You don’t have to do something just because another practitioner does it.

MY WINTER SOLSTICE ACTIVITIES LIST:

1. Hold a vigil

After learning that Lora O’Brien (from the Irish Pagan School) does this, I started doing it. I loved the idea of tending a flame and using all that time for my spiritual practice.

I would definitely not do this if I had anything strenuous to do the next day, though! I am a grandma who loves to be in bed early. It was tough for me to stay up until 4 AM (my goal was to catch the live stream from Newgrange). I lit a tea light candle in a lantern and kept the flame going until 4 AM.

So what do you do during a vigil? Do you stare at the candle for hours until the sun comes up? Nope, you do some of the activities below!

2. Reflect on the past year

Think about what you accomplished in the past year. What/who helped you along the way? What didn’t you get to do? Why not? 

3. Honor those who passed during the year

Light another candle just for those who have passed away. Leave offerings for them. Listen to them.

4. Plan for the next year

Do you want to get healthier (whatever that means to you)? Is there a trip that you would like to make? Is there a relationship or a skill that you would like to improve? Make a realistic goal (don’t suddenly expect to go to the gym every day if you are used to working out only once a week). Then, plan the details. How will you make the time/money/space/energy needed to accomplish your goals? 

5. Record your thoughts

After reflecting, listening, and planning, you should record your thoughts! This can be done in a journal, photo/video, or even a voice recording. This will give you something to go back to throughout the year. It could even be helpful when reflecting during the following winter solstice!

6. Watch the Newgrange Livestream

I primarily worship Irish deities, and I do my best to connect with Irish land and culture while physically being in the U.S.A. I would love to visit Ireland one day, but alas, that is financially impossible for me at the moment. If you’re in a similar situation, I highly recommend watching the Office of Public Work’s Livestream at Newgrange! They’re live-streaming December 20, 21, and 22 at 8:45 UTC.

7. Divination for the upcoming year

Use your favorite form of divination to see what you’ll need to focus on in the upcoming year! I prefer tarot or ogham.

I hope that this gave you some ideas about celebrating the winter solstice! Like I mentioned in the beginning, this is my practice. Yours can include some, all, or none of these elements!

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