“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Come people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.”
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is also officially the first day of winter. Winter is a season of yin characteristics: cold, slow, quiet, and feminine. Yin energy is associated with nighttime, so it’s fitting that the Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. We have reached the pinnacle of yin energy. Now is a time for resting, turning inward, and conserving energy. Our current custom of frantically rushing around doing last minute holiday shopping is not in sync with nature. We would be better off with more rest, slowness, warmth, and quality time with loved ones.
The word solstice is derived from two Latin words: sol (sun), and sistere (to stand still). This is because at the time of solstice, whether winter or summer, the sun’s relationship angle to the earth stands still at its northern or southernmost point before reversing its direction.
The Winter Solstice brings us a sacred pause and the start of a new cycle. Since the dawn of civilization, many cultures have celebrated rituals for welcoming back the sun. These rituals included feasting, music, drama, gift giving, and an emphasis on fire and light. Every day after the Winter Solstice will slowly become more light-filled. To celebrate the return of the light, I like to select some of my favorite aromatics for this season, such as Blood Orange, Frankincense, and Pinion Pine. I suggest diluting one of these essential oils with jojoba or sesame oil and anointing yourself with a dab of this blend to your wrists and chest. All three essential oils can also be blended together with a carrier oil to create a beautiful synergy.
Select Blood Orange (Citrus sinensis) for positivity, joy, and hope. Blood Orange has an intoxicating, vibrant aroma that really brings in the sunshine. Citrus oils are so important in winter because of their uplifting quality.
Select Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) for deep healing and inner stillness. Frankincense is a sacred oil for self reflection, prayer, and meditation. As a resin oil from a tree that grows amongst intense light, Frankincense has been referred to as “tears of crystallized sunlight.”
Select Pinion Pine (Pinus edulis) for mental clarity, inner strength, and a feeling of expansiveness. It also supports healthy breathing and immunity which is so important during the winter months.
One of my favorite Solstice rituals is to turn off all the lights and nestle up to the fireplace. You can also use a simple tea light candle. Bring a cup of warming, comforting herbal tea – ginger and chai blends are perfect. Anoint yourself with one of the essential oils (diluted in a carrier oil) mentioned above. Quietly reflect and take inventory of the past year. Write down what you are ready to release and let go of. It could be just a few sentences or a longer list. Throw the piece of paper in the fire and watch it burn away. After that, write down your dreams, wishes, and intentions for the year ahead, and then throw those intentions into the fire too. Gazing into the fire has a mesmerizing effect and reminds us of the return of the light which will warm our hearts more and more each day.
In the midst of the longest night of the year, we can dream a new dream and envision brilliant possibilities for the year ahead.