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The Winter Solstice - 21. December

The festival of Air, the Stillness

What is the true meaning?

A Solstice celebration occurs twice a year when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point.

The Summer Solstice, which is called Litha, happens between June 20-23 this is the longest day of the year. The Winter Solstice which is called Yule occurs between 20-23 December and it is the shortest day of the year.

After the Summer Solstice the days begin to get shorter as we head towards Autumn and Winter and the light begins to fade.

After the Winter Solstice the days begin to get longer and the light begins its journey towards Imbolc and Spring. On the Winter Solstice it is said that the light returns once again.

On the 21st December each year we experience the shortest day of the year and the longest night, and it traditionally marks the beginning of Winter. Frost may cover the land as nature begins its descent into the sleep state for the Winter months. We move into the stillness for the hibernation stage of the year. It is all about inner focus until we reach the time of Imbolc on 1-2 February when life in mother earth begins to stir once again as the wheel turns towards Spring.

The Winter Solstice is a time to honour the ‘Cailleach’ the Old Woman of Winter. The name traditionally comes from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic, and means ‘old woman’ or ‘hag.’ The crone leads us into the cycle of Death, the Cailleach is death itself and we honour the space between dying and rebirth. It's a time for healing our heart and we send prayers of healing for ourselves and for those in need.

Things to do on and around the Winter Solstice.

In Winter we slow down to conserve energy as it is cold. We sleep more, eat more as food is our fuel for the body. Winter is a good time to look within and make plans and preparations for the year ahead. Notice I said ‘Make Plans’ as it is not the best time to put those plans into action, this must wait until the Spring time.

On the run up to the Winter Solstice there are a few things you can do to honour this time of year and I will share these with you now.

  1. Make an altar to Nolava the Lady of Air, you may wish to decorate the altar with symbology of the element of Air and use things such as feathers or anything from nature which symbolises air.

  2. Everyday light a candle and burn incense and pray for help, guidance and give gratitude for any visions which are shown to you at this time.

  3. On the day of Yule (21. Dec) create a ceremony in honour of the mother or Air and connect with your distant ancestors to listen for guidance and wisdom.

  4. On the New Moon after Yule visualise all the things in your life which are lying dormant in the Winter ground awaiting the Lady’s touch at Imbolc.

  5. On the full moon after Yule create a cleansing ceremony for yourself and your home in preparation for Imbolc.

  6. Make time to sit for Spirit and listen for their guidance. When we ask questions to the Spirit we also need to make time to listen in the stillness for their answers.

Above all be creative, honour the stillness and the silence, slow down and allow yourselves this beautiful break in the year before it all begins once again in the Spring.

Winter Solstice Blessings from

Louisa Sullivan

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