Exploring the Deeper Spiritual Meaning of the Winter Solstice
Most people despise winter. The cold – the snow – the ice. ….
Yet the winter holds so many possibilities for us spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Winter can provide the kind of respite we need to prepare for the more active seasons of spring and summer.
If you’re interested in harnessing the power of Winter, then stick around to the end of the video because I’m going to show you how to make the most out of the season – starting with the winter solstice. By the end, you’ll not only have a powerful winter solstice spiritual practice, but you will have everything you need to greet every winter day with joy and appreciation.
And you don’t even need to fly to Stonehenge to do it!
The first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the winter solstice, which occurs on Wednesday, December 21, 2022, at 4:48 P.M. EST.
For the northern half of Earth (the Northern Hemisphere), the winter solstice occurs annually on December 21 or 22.
The winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the whole year, making it the “shortest day” of the year. It’s also a turning point. From this moment, each day gets slightly longer. We call the Winter Solstice the return of the Sun.
So it’s a time to celebrate. While also preparing for the rigors that Winter brings.
But before we do so, it’s helpful to take a deeper look at the Winter Solstice – from an astronomical perspective and a cultural one.
The winter solstice holds significance across a variety of cultures, as it signals the changing of the seasons.
Some ancient peoples even marked the solstice using huge stone structures, like Newgrange in Ireland. In some cultures, the solstice traditionally marked the midway point of the season rather than the start of it, which explains why holidays such as Midsummer Day are celebrated around the first day of summer.
For the ancient Celts, the calendar was based around the solstices and equinoxes, marking the Quarter Days, with the mid-points called Cross-Quarter Days.
What Happens on the Winter Solstice?
Astronomically speaking -- On the day of the winter solstice, we are tilted as far away from the Sun as possible, which means that the Sun’s path across the sky is as low in the sky as it can be. During the summer, the Sun arcs high in the sky, but during the winter, it arcs lower, closer to the horizon.
Did you know? The word solstice comes from Latin sol “sun” and sistere “to stand still.” So, loosely translated, it means “sun stand still.”
Why? For a few days before and after the solstice, the Sun’s path across the sky appears to freeze. The change in its noontime elevation is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still.
From a spiritual perspective, Of all seasons, Winter poses the greatest challenges. Many of us don’t like the continual days deprived of light and the months filled with colder temperatures. Most struggle with the bleakness of the land and the emptiness of the trees. Our spirits tire of the endless gray skies and we long for warmth and color.
And as a result, we’ve trained ourselves to fill our lives with “busyness” to avoid having to deal with Winter. We have a tendency to want to rush from Autumn to Spring, to avoid the long dark days that winter brings.
And yet, winter darkness has a positive side to it.
As we gather to celebrate the turn of the Wheel from Fall to Winter, we are invited to recognize and honor the beauty in the often-unwanted season of winter.
Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims.
Let us be grateful for the wisdom that winter brings -- in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal.
Let us also encourage our spirits as Earth prepares to come forth from this time of withdrawal into a season filled with light.
The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight.
Soon we will welcome the coming of Springtime. As we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects of winter's darkness. Pause to sit in silence in the darkness of this space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you.
In the Winter, we give thanks for the darkness, which is the yin to the yang of light. We’ll remember how soothing darkness is to the weary, how the repose of the darkness provides relief from activity and restores the soul.
Through our winter solstice celebrations, make a special effort to greet darkness and share some of the feelings that arise in you when you think about darkness.
NOW … To honor the Winter Solstice, there are many types of rituals you can engage in – from gathering at Stonehenge to casting circle and filling your space with candles to represent the return of the sun.
We tend to like ceremonies that are simple, not so expensive like a trip overseas, and not so heavy on props. And most importantly, outside.
One of the most powerful ways to make magic is to celebrate the season over the course of days or weeks – or even every day of the season!
One way to do this is to make the Winter into an adventure.
Author Alan Epstein writes about the spiritual practice of being grateful for all kinds of weather — even the kind of winter weather that inconveniences us:
TO quote: " Instead complaining about the snow, sleet, freezing rain, or rain with cold temperatures — see this weather as an adventure, as a time when nature reminds you that she exists, that when it comes to the earth, it is her domain.
Winter weather is an opportunity for you to recognize that we all live on a small, spinning orb held on course by the force of gravity among the nearby heavenly bodies. It’s a time to recognize the Earth’s position in the universe is very powerful, but ultimately also fragile …
"See the changing weather as representative of all change., living our lives day to day, We are a part of this universal system.
"All phenomena — including bad weather — contribute to our experience of life. Don't discriminate. Enjoy the adventure."
Another powerful practice is to Learn a Lesson from Frost
For instance, author Joyce Rupp does a spiritually literate reading of frost: She writes:
"One winter morning I awoke to see magnificent lines of frost stretching across my windowpanes. They seemed to rise with the sunshine and the bitter cold outside. They looked like little miracles that had been formed in the dark of night.
I watched them in sheer amazement and marveled that such beautiful forms could be born during such a winter-cold night.
Yet, as I pondered them, I thought of how life is so like that. We live our long, worn days in the shadows, in what often feels like barren, cold winter, so unaware of the miracles that are being created in our spirits.
It takes the sudden daylight, some unexpected surprise of life, to cause our gaze to look upon a simple, stunning growth that has happened quietly inside us.
Like frost designs on a winter window, they bring us beyond life's fragmentation and remind us that we are not nearly as lost as we thought we were -- that all the time we thought we were dead inside, beautiful things were being born in us."
Frost can be a spiritual teacher for us if we just open our hearts and our minds to it. There are plenty of other winter wonders that can spur our imagination and send us on our way, rejoicing. Look around you on a cold day and find your spiritual teacher.
Another powerful practice is to Pray for Our Ancestors, the Glaciers, and Act on Their Behalf
Author Gretel Ehrlich, a skilled nature writer, laments the loss of glaciers thanks to global warming.
As she puts it:
"A glacier is an archivist and historian. It saves everything no matter how small or big, including pollen, dust, heavy metals, bugs, bones, and minerals. It registers every fluctuation of weather. A glacier is time incarnate, a moving image of time.
When we lose a glacier — and we are losing most of them — we lose history, we lose an eye into the past; we lose stories of how living beings evolved, how weather vacillated, why plants and animals died.
The retreat and disappearance of glaciers — there are only 160,000 left — means we're burning libraries and damaging the planet, possibly beyond repair.
So, for this Winter Solstice, say a prayer for humanity and the nations of the world to wake up and see the havoc being created by our pollution.
Continue your prayers by actively lending your support to groups working to halt the destructive forces behind global warming.
Another way to celebrate the Winter and the Winter Solstice is to Slow Down
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen monk, has stated: "Life is so short, we should all move slowly."
Winter affords us the opportunity to physically slow down.
Take a meditative walk down the block where you live and be thankful for winter and the chance to move slowly through the world.
SO -- In this video, you discovered that the Winter Solstice is a time of joy and celebration. knowing that the sun is returning as we embark on our winter journey provides a level of comfort.
Attuning ourselves to the spirit of Winter provides us with another opportunity to surrender to the cyclical experience of Nature and of life. When we view things from this cyclical lens, we can ride the currents of life, going with the flow, and not struggling against it.
If you want to learn more about how Nature centric spiritual practices can help you discover who you are and why you are here – if you want to uncover your passion and purpose – and stop feeling like something is missing in your life – I have another video for you – just hit LIKE or SUBSCRIBE if you want more content like this ….
But seriously …
Click or tap the screen to watch the next video about NATURE MAGIC because you’ll learn some important things about unlocking magic in your life. I’ll see you over there.