Being a therapist I can use just about any reason imaginable as an opportunity for change. I particularly love if that’s tied in with the cycles of mother nature.

So mark the turning point of what can seem like the long haul from Christmas until spring. Take time out on the 21st to gather with friends, meditating, relaxing or simply making a promise to yourself to do nothing at all can be a welcome respite from the exhaustion and tedium of commercialised Christmas.

It may help alleviate the dread of the long winter months just knowing that on this day we were already half way to Spring Equinox and the return of the sun. Honestly I look forward to it more each year.

On a deeper level, the more you work with the energy of the solstice, the more you can appreciate the chance to turn within, look at the year gone by, let go of what no longer serves and plant your seeds of intention for the year ahead.

Being me I also appreciate any chance to party. Realising that it is not so much the beginning of winter but the countdown to spring (2 minutes more light every day from that point forward) is as good an excuse as any in my book. Many rituals and celebrations have been handed down the ages, designed to help us remember that the seasons of the year like the seasons of our lives come and go and the fact that winter and the dark months initiate the coming of light and life. But just make up your own.

My favourite ritual for the winter solstice is gathering in front of fire or around the table after dinner in the darkness. Place a large new red candle in the centre to represent the group as a whole and the Solstice Sun, perhaps place the candle within a Yule Wreath as a symbol of cycles of nature. Participants all have a smaller red candle (tea lights are good). As each lights their candle they speak a vision or wish for the planet for the coming year: “My Solstice Wish is ….” then place their candle in a circle around the large one in the centre.

One year after a slap up “Solstice Feast” with friends including children aged between 2 -10 we shared the very best and the very worst of the year gone by and our personal wishes for the year ahead – fantastic. The children of course surpassed anything the adults came up with, their honest simplicity bringing tears and smiles to the adult faces. Just adapt it to your group. If you like ritual you can use dried holly sprigs to say farewell to the old calendar year (Holly represents the waning solar year, Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice). Once the Yule Log or fire itself starts blazing, think of the year ahead and the power of possibilities, then throw in an oak twig or acorn into the fire to represent the year ahead (Oak represents the waxing solar year, Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice) and call out a resolution, hope or dream.

Now if you are really into it celebrate the rising sun too. Sunrise is 0846 Glasgow next morning. The ancient ones would have stayed up for it. So whether you will be drumming up the sun at your nearest sacred site, dancing round the forest in your Rudolph jumper, meditating in the garden, nursing the mother of all hangovers or still snoring your head off – blessed be!!!

It is simply something to look forward to at the darkest time of the year. Especially for us northerners where depression is tied to cold, tiredness and inactivity. A chance to come into awareness before the inevitable 3 day dead bird and booze fest. Yes perhaps they should bring hibernation back. It is a fact that insufficient sunlight in the short winter days increases the secretion of melatonin in the body, causing increased sleep and what we really need is more not less exercise light ion exposure, but I’m off on one – enjoy your time and let me know how you went???????

Happy Solstice!

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