You may already know that the word solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning “the sun stands still.”
On the Winter Solstice, the Sun seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverse its direction. From the point of view of the Earth, this pause marks the time when the Sun stops moving southward and begins its northward journey. The days stop growing shorter and begin growing longer, heading toward the Spring Equinox.
This special relationship between the Earth and the Sun has been honored since ancient times, from the Egyptian celebration of the rebirth of Horus, to the Persian Shab-e Yalda, commemorating the birth of the sun god Mithra. Many cultures have built temples that house the sun on its special days of standing still, such as Newgrange in Ireland and Machu Pichu in Peru.
Whether it is tied to a belief in the return of a deity, or simply the majestic power of the sun as a bringer of light and life, the Winter Solstice is a deep part of our human culture. It is alive and well even in the modern-day American Christmas celebration, which has scooped up a little from nearly every winter celebration tradition around the globe, from the feasting and gift giving of the Roman Saturnalia, to the Druidic practice of bringing greenery into our homes.
Clearly, this is a time of year when our inner clocks ask us to pause and take stock. It is a time to rest, relax, and regroup for the new year.
The Winter Solstice is a powerful time for us to emulate the sun and pause, as we take stock of the year drawing to an end and lay plans for the year ahead.
Here are six simple ways to honor the Solstice by pausing, reflecting, and setting your intention for the coming year.
1. Write it Away
Use a journal or notebook to reflect on the year gone by. Reflect on the challenges you faced and the obstacles that came your way. Write through the lessons you learned and decide how you want to file these experiences in your mindbank. Decide what is no longer serving you, and release it back into the Universe.
2. Gather ‘Round the Fire
Gather around a fire with loved ones and share what you’d like to let go of and what you’d like to bring to you. You can jot these thoughts down on scraps of paper to burn in the fire, thus sending the intentions out into the Universe.
3. Create a Memory Box
Gather together mementos of the year behind you. Look for keepsakes, or write down the most wonderful times. Reflect on your greatest growth or the most precious lessons you have learned.
4. Create a Vision Board
It’s much easier to find things when you know what they look like. Make a vision board for the coming year by cutting out words and images that represent what you want to embrace in the coming year. Allow your imagination to take over as you feel what you’re drawn to and what makes you feel lighter.
5. Choose a Theme Word
Choose a watch word or theme word for the coming year, something that represents the feeling you want to maintain, a habit you want to build, or an idea you want to live. Begin with a meditation so you can move into your highest mind-space. State your intention to be open to the wisdom of the Universe, and become ready to receive. Listen for a word or phrase that feels right to you. You will know it when you hear it. When words come to you, ask yourself how they make you feel. I did this exercise and initially received the word “focus”. But the more I repeated it to myself, the more it felt like an admonishment; as if someone were nagging me to stay on task. I repeated the activity and a new word came to me: intention. This word makes me feel powerful and in control of what I do in a wonderful way.
6. Create a Miracle Wishlist
Write down a list of things you would like to ask the Universe for help with in the coming year. These might be in the realm of relationships, health, business, personal development, or anything else. Feel free to choose items that feel enormous, maybe even a little intimidating. Give yourself permission to ask big. Make sure to make this about fun, not obligation. The idea isn’t to create a to-do list but rather an inspiring list of wonderful things that you would like to have happen–with some help from the Universe. It can be helpful to head this list with, “Dear Universe, please bring me the following miracles!”
Begin the New Year with Ease
Whether you make time for one of these reflective activities or simply for an evening spent relaxing with friends or family, give yourself a well-deserved pause. On the Solstice, take a cue from the sun: stand still and just be.