Working with the Wheel: Winter Solstice

Tomorrow, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, it is the Winter Solstice; the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Or, as I think of it, the dark heart of the year.

After Samhain – which was a time of looking back, analysis, learning, and remembering – the Winter Solstice is a time to pull back to hearth and home, a safe footing from which to look forward, to consider what the next year may have in store. A day for warm food, a warm fire and a warm heart. There will be reminiscing, of course, but for me it is a day of being present in the here and now and for dreaming of possibilities for the future. It is when the hope is kindled to light us into next year.

I’ve always tried to honour the day in some way, even when I was working full time and it meant a thirty minute dash around the park next to the office and then as nice a meal as I had the energy to make at whatever time I made it home. Now I’m freelance I do my best to ensure that I’ve got three days completely to myself, the solstice sandwiched in the middle, so I have the time to really make it special.

So what does that look like for me? Well as of now, quite late on the eve of the solstice, my plans are as follows:

Waking before dawn I’ll make my breakfast and take it back to bed to eat while watcing the sunrise from my window. 

Then bundling myself into warm clothes and spending the rest of the daylight hours, as far as possible and weather permitting, outside soaking up what sun there is while walking the woods and letting my mind wander where it will. 

There will be a late lunch of french onion soup, crusty bread and some of the cheese I acquired earlier today from the local delicatessan. 

Once lunch is eaten I will return to the kitchen to prepare everything for the evening meal. This year I’m making a Lancashire Hotpot with cauliflower and peas, followed by a dark chocolate cake that I made this afternoon. I will also mull some apple juice whilst I’m out there.

When the prep is done I’ll finish dressing the table. All the greenery was gathered and arranged today because, although I know it’s more traditional to do it on the Solstice proper, I also know my limits and didn’t want to spend the day feeling rushed. 

At this point I’ll be ready to light the candles that I’ve scattered pretty much everywhere throughout the living and dining room. I don’t have a real fire but the gas one will go on too. Then, whilst the Hotpot cooks, I’ll share mulled apple and memories with my parents. The rest of the evening will be one of simple pleasures; good food, good company and good stories. 

When the evening draws to a close I’ll clear up and put all the candles out bar one, which I’ll carry upstairs to my bedroom and place on my altar, which I also cleaned and decked out today.

Picture of a witchcraft altar dressed in winter greenery with oracle cards as focuses.

I will light the rest of the candles in the bedroom using that flame and spend the rest of the night journalling, planning and reading; giving myself the time and space to dream as wildly and positively as I can and to simply be. 

It’s not dramatic, there’ll be no formal rituals, nothing particularly fancy. It’s just time to myself and time with family; a celebration of all that has been good in the last twelve months and a chance to look forward to 2023 and take the first steps to firm up my plan and turn them into reality.

The one thing I wont be doing tomorrow is opening a computer or spending any time online at all. As such I will wish you a bountiful Solstice now and leave you with this blessing:

As this year turns to darkness
may your hearth be warm,
your table full, and your heart light.

And may the coming year
hold health, hope and happiness
for you and all those you love.

3 thoughts on “Working with the Wheel: Winter Solstice

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