On December 21st the winter solstice takes place. It's the longest night of the year on the northern hemisphere and it symbolizes the beginning of winter. The celts celebrated "Jul" during this night to welcome the return of the sun. From now on the days will get longer again, the half year of light begins.
I try to welcome and to honor the new seasons with rituals as those gestures and meditations help me tune into the new energies. As you may have noticed yourself winter is the time of slowing down and retreating. Like nature we turn our forces inward and like nature we need breaks in order to flourish again in spring. At the end of the year I feel the strong need to clean up, externally as well as internally. All that I don't want to take with me into the new year gets sorted out. I want to make space for the new. Therefor this time isn't just the beginning of a new season, but also an ending. A transition into a new chapter.
In the rubric "light as a feather" I share excerpts from my spiritual tool box with you and this time I prepared some suggestions for winter rituals that should help you arrive in this tide, welcoming the light and gift you with a moment of peace and quiet during a busy christmas time. Let me know if you tried one of these rituals!
A nature walk
Especially during christmas time I can feel stressed and my mind is often filled with to do lists and all of which has to be organized until christmas. What helps me in these situations is a bit of grounding and nothing is better for that than putting on warm clothes and going outside. I'm lucky to live very close to the forest, but you can take this walk also on a field, in a park or even in the city.
During winter nature seems to be dead. Everything is asleep and retreating. With this little nature meditation I invite you to be mindful. Perhaps you let your steps become slower. Even if everything looks like it's standing still, the circle of nature goes on. It's not as obvious as in other seasons, but our surroundings are alive. Beneath the layers of snow and ice it goes on, on the bare branches it keeps growing, life continues. On this walk watch out for those little and easily overseen signs of life. Maybe you can hear a bird sing, maybe you can make out a deer track in the snow or mud, maybe you hear the stream flowing under the ice, maybe you discover a bud on a tree that contains already everything it needs to become a leaf in spring. Welcome the light, the life.
And if you need even more grounding and connection, look for a tree and place your hands on its bark.
Making a wreath
During winter conifers play an important role. They symbolize the eternal life as they're evergreen. Additionally their scent can bring us the feeling of security, warmth and familiarity.
Bind a few twigs of a conifer to a wreath. Maybe you'll find them on one of your walk, but only take as many as you need. You can add dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, pinecones, cranberries and so on to your wreath. If you like you can connect to a thought that will help you during this winter season while making the wreath. Ask yourself: what do I need? What do I wish for? or also: what's good for me?
Hang your wreath on your door. Like that you are welcomed by the warmth of the conifers and your good intentions every time you enter your home.
Sometimes you just don't have the time and the patience to make a whole wreath. Instead you can just bind a bundle or decorate your home with a few evergreens.
During the darkest time of the year we yearn for light and is there something more beautiful than warming yourself by a fire? Whether you're making a fire outdoors or inside isn't of importance (as long as it's safe). I like to be outside while performing my rituals and therefore will choose a fireplace in nature for this ritual.
Fire doesn't only bring light into darkness, but it also stands for transformation and for making space for the new.
Besides a fire you'll need some bay leaves for this ritual (alternatively you can replace them with a few conifer twigs). Take a bay leaf into your hand and connect yourself mentally with a wish for next year. You might also want to write it on the bay leaf. Imagine your wish already being true, already being your reality. Let this vision become very strong and then give the bay leaf to the fire that will transform your wish.
I'm also looking for rituals in my kitchen. A recipe that fits into this time of the year is my magical cider that I shared for the autumn ritual. You'll find it linked here.
I like to bake ginger bread as a nice addition to this beverage and I'll fill it again with all my intentions for this season.
250 g spelt flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ginger bread spice (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, anise, nutmeg, ginger...)
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2.5 dl milk of your choice
a sweetener of your choice. I mostly choose honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar. (As I don't like my ginger bread too sweet, I don't have exact measurements, but I think I'll use 1-2 tbsp per sweetener. Just try your batter while adding the sweeteners.)
Optionally you can add the zest of an orange.
While combining everything to a smooth batter, set your intentions. Fill a baking tray with your ginger bread batter, smooth it out and bake it on 180° heat for about 15 min. (depending on the thickness of your batter.)