Today, 12/20/2016, is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and tonight is longest night. The winter solstice occurs as the sun reaches its southernmost declination, and that happens globally at the same moment, which falls at 5:44 a.m. tomorrow, where I live. (Eastern Standard Time.) After that, the sun begins to move the other way, as perceived from Earth. (The sun isn’t moving, we are.) Tomorrow will be a little bit longer than today, and every day after that will continue to grow longer and longer until the summer solstice in mid-June.
What is the Spiritual Meaning?
Most Christmas traditions we have today, from evergreens to mistletoe to flying reindeer, spring from ancient, pre-Christian customs having to do with the rebirth of the sun. (Read more in John & Caitlin Matthews’ WINTER SOLSTICE.) Just as the sun reaches its weakest point, it turns and begins to grow stronger again. There’s so much depth to be explored just in this small observation. Tomorrow truly is a brand new beginning for the cycle of the Earth’s rotation around the sun, and since we’re a part of everything in our universe, it’s a new beginning for us too.
A Time for Reflection
One of the things I practice at this time of year is reflection. I review any calendars or journals I’ve kept, to remind myself of all the major events of the year gone by. I do a similar review of my business, using Leonie Dawson’s Shining Biz workbook. I do a lot of math, review all my promotional efforts, cover updates, and try to take stock of what worked and what didn’t.
In both life and business, I think it’s important to do this end of year review process. It allows us to really process what the year has brought, to celebrate and give thanks for all the good things, and all we learned from the not so good ones. It gives us a moment to bask in gratitude and appreciation, and it allows us to have closure. As we say farewell to the old year, we can be sure we really drank in all it offered.
Solstice and New Year's Eve
This is very similar to the energy of New Year’s Eve. I find harmony between the actual end of the solar year, and the end of the calendar year, by allowing the energy and observation of it to last for the entire season. I begin my year in review after Thanksgiving, and I journal about it, and read my old entries and datebooks, all the way up to the Solstice. I write about it in my annual letter to Santa.
As the Solstice comes and goes, I allow myself the rest of December to process it. We talk and discuss the year gone by and our pondering deepens. Gradually, my focus begins to shift toward how all this knowledge and experience can feed my life and biz going forward into the year that’s just been born.
Every Experience is a Gift
These are the true gifts of the holiday season; the experiences and wisdom we gain from our review of the old year. Every one of them has something we can use in the year ahead.
This is the time when we actively transmute experience into power. We figure out what every event taught us, and how we can apply that new knowledge as we move forward. We know what didn’t work, and we know what did. We know what felt great, and what felt awful. This information is priceless.
By the time 2017 rolls in, we’re going to be armed with more wisdom than ever before, and ready to charge ahead and thrive even more.
I love rituals to observe the major turning points of the year. My ritual for the Winter Solstice includes my annual letter to Santa, which you can read about HERE.
But I also do another one. I write down every big event of the year gone by on a tiny slip of paper, (flash paper is FUN for this!) mull for a while on the wisdom I gained from it, and then give thanks for it. Next I crumble the paper, and either drop it into a cauldron to burn, or pitch it into the fireplace.
I repeat for all the major goals of the coming year, imagining them as fulfilled, acknowledging that they are created the moment I wish for them. I burning those wishes as well, with gratitude and love.
I do this surrounded by representations of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit, and lots of Goddess images. I create sacred space, play soft music, have candles glowing and incense smoke spiraling around my head. It is as sacred a time to me as Midnight Mass is to those who observe it.
Tonight is my sacred night.