For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice (which usually takes place on December 21 or 22) always marks the longest night of the year, the shortest day of the year, and the beginning of the winter season. While fewer hours of sunlight and an impending several months’ worth of cold weather may not feel like something worth celebrating to some of us, the winter solstice is actually considered an extremely significant day in many different cultures and spiritual practices, including astrology. Knowing the spiritual meaning of the winter solstice can help you take advantage of the powerful and reflective energy of this special date.
While shorter days and drearier winter weather conditions may mean that we aren’t engaging in as many outings as usual, we can actually use this time to get more introspective and focus on our personal goals. “The winter solstice is a time for us to manifest our desires and expand our horizons,” witch and tarot reader Majorie Gatson of The Punk Priestess tells Bustle. “It’s perfect for reflecting on our journeys throughout the past year and visualizing our next steps as we enter into a new one.”
Winter Solstice Meaning
The start of a new season always carries the energy of a new beginning, but the winter solstice has a kind of different vibe, given that it heralds in the darkest and coldest months of the year. Throughout history, cultures around the world have observed winter solstice traditions — it’s thought that the Neolithic people who built Stonehenge, the massive stone monument in England, purposely aligned it with the winter solstice sunset (as well as its summer equivalent), likely for ritual purposes. Other traditional winter solstice celebrations usually share a theme of celebration and feasting, gathering with loved ones, and honoring the light — what little of it is left, that is. It’s no coincidence that most modern-day religions have some sort of festival or celebration that takes place on or around the date of the winter solstice each year.
When Is The Winter Solstice?
Winter solstice 2021 takes place on December 21 (as did winter solstice 2019 and winter solstice 2020), so mark your calendar and check out some of these simple ways to celebrate the seasonal shift.
The Winter Solstice & Capricorn Season
The winter solstice is an important date in astrology, too. This event always aligns with the sun’s ingress into the zodiac sign of Capricorn, which heralds in the start of Capricorn season. “Capricorn is all about being proactive and disciplined, so during the winter solstice, you may feel compelled to embrace these qualities,” Gatson says. Capricorn is the zodiac’s cardinal earth sign, and it often puts our mind on matters of money and business.
Winter Solstice Rituals
If you’re into astrology, you can align your winter solstice rituals with the planetary energy. “I suggest focusing on career achievements during the winter solstice, because Capricorn rules your career and status in the world,” Gatson says. “Have an honest conversation with yourself and consider whether you are feeling purposeful in your line of work. Do you feel in alignment with your career? Are you compensated properly? Are you supported and nurtured at work? How can you achieve more clout and power in your life?” Write out your answers to these questions and start formulating your future plans.
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, so it also marks the start of our annual journey toward longer days. Because of that, it’s a time to celebrate and look forward to the return of more sun. Lighting candles or doing a winter solstice candle ritual is the perfect way to honor that energy. All you’ll need is a candle, a piece of paper to write your intentions on, and something to carve into your candle with.
“Set an intention of what you would like to focus on during the solstice, then write your intention down and turn it into a sigil, which you’ll carve into a candle,” Gatson says. “As you focus on the year ahead, your intention is burning in the background, casting that energy out into the universe.” Allow your candle to burn out safely (it’s OK if you have to put it out and re-light it). “Once the spell candle is burned, pay homage to the magic that was just manifested by meditating and envisioning the new future you’re trying to create,” Gatson says.
Celebrate The Winter Solstice With Friends & Family
An important part of celebrating the solstice has always been showing love to the people closest to you, like friends and family members. That’s why so many traditional winter celebrations involve gathering with loved ones and being merry or giving gifts! Honor the ancient history of this celestial event by planning an intimate winter solstice gathering with friends or family. It’s a great time to connect with each other emotionally, share a nourishing meal, and put up lights or candles to remind yourselves of the brighter spring days that come after the winter.
Winter Solstice Tarot Spread
The introspective vibes of the winter solstice could inspire us to seek some mystical insight on how to navigate the upcoming year — so if you have a deck of tarot cards (or a friend who wants to collaborate on a solstice tarot spread), it’s the perfect time to connect with them. “I like to do a ‘year ahead’ tarot spread for the winter solstice,” Gatson says. “These are particularly helpful to not only see what is ahead in your life, but to gain some insight on what goals need to be prioritized during the year and when.”
To create a year-ahead tarot spread, shuffle the deck while focusing on your hopes for the year to come. When you’re ready, pull 12 cards and lay them out in front of you — each card will represent one month of the upcoming year. Interpret the cards as guidance for each month. “When you’re done with the tarot spread, take photos of the cards and write down any quick notes or thoughts you have about the reading,” Gatson says. “This way, you can reflect back on the spread in the new year to come.”
Disconnect & Focus On Yourself During The Winter Solstice
The darkness of the winter solstice is naturally aligned with the energy of introspection, making it an ideal time for looking inward and focusing on what’s in your heart. “We can sometimes get distracted or complacent when we don’t have regular check-ins with ourselves,” Gatson says. “That’s why the winter solstice is the perfect time to have essential conversations with ourselves — so we can begin to make vital changes in our lives.”
Even if you don’t want to do a formal ritual, you can honor this energy by putting your phone on do not disturb, lighting a candle or putting on some relaxing music, and spending some quality quiet time with yourself. Take some time to think deeply about yourself, reflect on your past, and visualize what you want for your future.
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