Tonight at the stroke of midnight on December 22, autumn will officially pass and the dawning of winter will commence. The longest day of the year is upon us, but from here there begins a slow creeping toward summer, and a return to light-filled days. We take this moment now as an opportunity to not only reflect on the year that has passed but to set intentions and plan ahead for the year to come, making sure to feel the gratitude for all that winter has to offer us in the way of recharging and rest.
We got together for our first Winter Solstice as a Coven; we exchanged gifts, ate a delicious meal of winter root vegetables and vegan cookies, and performed our short but effective ritual to prepare for the months ahead and honor the days gone by.
Setting up your altar is the first step in this process. Winter boughs such as Holly and Evergreen should adorn your altar in a wreath, or circle. One tall candle in either red, golds or white should remain unlit until the ceremony, symbolizing the awakening of the sun. Flanking this candle you can use a multitude of tealights, but make sure you have two white or red pillar candles to light them with and to set your intentions on.
If there are any remnants of your wreaths or boughs that fall by the wayside, put them aside to keep until the warmer months for your Summer solstice.
Turn off all the lights, and sit for a peaceful moment in total darkness. This is representative of winter's immense stillness and night. Then, when you are ready, light the tall candle. Use a white pillar candle for each member of the Coven, and take turns lighting them on the tall candle. When you light yours, set an intention for the year ahead as well as something you want to let go of, and share with your loved ones. You can also share your favorite things about winter.
Light all the smaller candles. Then, it's time to feast! Enjoy your delicious meal surrounded by light and loved ones. It is also customary to exchange small gifts.
With your offerings proffered, your intentions set and your bellies filled, you can enter into the new half of the year with light, love and hope.
Yule tidings and happy Solstice!