The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun is at its lowest arc in the sky. It is also known as midwinter and is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. The Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day “midwinter” (winter solstice) holiday called Yule.
The main points of the Winter Solstice from a shamanic perspective are the death of the old and the rebirth of the new. We can use this time to let go of all the sluggish energy that has attached itself to us from the past year. The negativity of others and the weariness of struggle can all be released through any number of fire rituals on this day. You may have seen memes about the burning of holly with your yule log in order to release the year from you.
The Yule log was originally an entire tree that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony with the purpose being to provide maximum warmth and endurance. In some European traditions, the largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. While we no longer honor the traditions of the yule log in quite this way, for those of us in climates that allow for the burning of hearth fires, keeping the traditions of yule logs are far easier. For those in warmer climates, a bonfire with a yule log adorned in holy is an excellent substitute.
You can also burn away the year with a burning bowl. Make sure you have a fire proof bowl for this rite. Write down anything you want released from you and meditate on it. Light some charcoal for incense at the bottom bowl and set the paper and place it in the bowl. Add holly and any other cleansing items like sage. You may have to relight the paper or holly to make sure it burns completely. I wouldn’t necessarily do this indoors, so if you have a porch, that would be the best location.
When you are done releasing all of this negative energy, you now have 12 days in which to start planning and creating your new path and new energy for the upcoming year. There is any number of manifestation rituals you can choose from. I like doing another burning bowl ceremony to set aflame my wishes and desires for the New Year.
To me, the winter solstice is a time of metamorphosis. It is a time of death, rebirth and rejuvenation. It is a time of release and manifestation. Use its energy wisely, and you can accomplish great things.