Winter Solstice Ceremony

Dec 17 2020

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Sunrise in Pembrokeshire / credit Holly Stoppit

What a year this has been for all of us! The whole of the human race has been squished and squashed and flung about by a tiny little virus. Most of us have suffered, many of us have grieved, we've all had to adapt and compromise in ways we never imagined we'd have to a year ago. As we plod, creep, scuffle and leap towards the end of the year, I'm wondering how is life for you? 

It's coming up to the winter Solstice on December 21st, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. In the days around the Solstice, I'll be hunkering down and journeying inwards, contemplating life as it is and dreaming into my desired future. If this sounds like something you might want to do, here's a reflective solstice ceremony you can do at some point over the festive period.

This 4-part ceremony involves expressing gratitude, naming the challenges of 2020, working out what you're willing to let go of and pondering on what you'd like to draw in for 2021.

What you will need:

  • 45 mins – 1 hour on your own (you can also do this with a friend / loved one of they're up for it)
  • a journal / some writing paper and a pen
  • a little pile of small strips of paper
  • a comfy place to sit
  • a delicious drink to drink
  • a candle if you have one
  • some beautiful music - you could try Joep Beving's Solipsism on youtube here or on Spotify here.
  • OPTIONAL for part 4 - a safe place to set fire to small pieces of paper, preferably outdoors (ONLY DO THIS PART INDOORS IF YOU HAVE A FIREPLACE)

To Begin

  • Set up your space to support your reflection time.

  • Light your candle if you have one and take a moment to gaze at the flame. Notice your contact with the ground and send your breath deeper into your belly, feel into your body and invite any tension to release. Take a moment to check in with your body and your emotional state. You can come back to this at any point during your reflection if you need to re-centre yourself.

  • There will be writing to do, you can approach this however you like; you could make a list, do a brainstorm or free write – allowing your pen to travel across the page without editing or censoring. 

Part One – Gratitude

Write down all the things you're grateful for. Perhaps you could think about what has supported you through this year, naming the things, people, animals, places, practices, experiences, or character qualities that have got you through.

Part Two – Challenges

Write down all the challenges you've encountered this year. This may seem a bit daunting this year – but having them all in one place will reveal to you how much you've undergone and survived! What's been particularly difficult? Were there any unexpected obstacles that you had to navigate? Did misfortune cross your path? Were there personal blocks / limitations that impacted you?

Part Three - Letting Go

What are you willing to let go of? Looking back through your writing on the challenges of 2020 - is there anything you'd like to consign to the fire of 2020? Perhaps there are ongoing / reoccurring experiences that you'd like to put an end to? Perhaps you are ready to draw a line under particularly harmful coping strategies?

Here's how this part works - on separate strips of paper, write down “I am willing to let go of...” and complete the sentence. Do this for as many things as you'd like to let go of.

Part Four – Drawing in

This part can involve setting fire to your small bits of paper if you like (WAIT – DON'T DO IT YET!). If you want to do this, you need to move outdoors or set yourself up at a fireplace. PLEASE DON'T DO THIS INDOORS IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FIREPLACE OR IF YOU HAVE SENSITIVE FIRE ALARMS!). The alternative (safer) option is to rip up your bits of paper instead (NOT YET!). OK, here's how it works:

  • Return to your gratitude list, call in all the things, people, animals, places and qualities you're grateful for, to support you through this ceremony. To do this, you might want to read the list out loud, or you might want to visualise these things / beings travelling into your space. You can simply imagine this happening in your mind or you might want to anchor these supportive beings and things into your body by finding a physical gesture for each supportive force.

  • Now take one of your “I am letting go of...” bits of paper and read it out loud (if you dare). Then either burn it or tare it up into little pieces. Stay conscious as you do this – notice how you feel in your body and in your heart. This is the beginning of the process of letting go.

  • If you were to let go of that, what would you like to draw into its place? Take a moment to muse on this, start a sentence (in your head or out loud) with “I am drawing in...” and feel into what might be the opposite of the thing you've just begun to let go of. eg If you are willing to let go of working for free, you might say “I am drawing in appreciation for my skills and experience” or “I am drawing in well paid work.” 

  • Whatever you're drawing in, you can imagine it travelling towards you in your mind or you can activate it with gestures if you prefer. You might want to take a moment to write it down before you move onto the next one.

  • Do this process for each of your “I am letting go of...” pieces of paper.

When you have finished letting go and drawing in, take a moment to ground again. Feel the floor beneath you, tune into your breath in your body. Notice how your body feels and how your mood is now. Find a way to end this ceremony – maybe simply finishing your drink or blowing out the candle?

Well done for taking this time.

I wish you love, laughter and lightness for 2021,

Holly xxx

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