Winter Solstice


We are entering the darkest part of the year; the sun is sinking lower and setting earlier every day. Soon we will arrive at the Winter Solstice, also called Yule in some traditions. The longest night of the year. From that point forward, the sun will begin its return as we travel slowly out of the darkness and into the light.

In just a few months the earth will begin to quicken again; silently at first, deep under the snow.

But for now, we wait in the darkness.

This is a time to reflect, to dream dreams and tell stories. To cook delicious meals and laugh around the fire, to light candles to brighten the dark corners. To watch and wait for life and warmth to return.

Winter Solstice feels like something ancient and deeply ingrained in my ancestral memory. It honors the waning sun, the sleeping earth, the breathless pause before the return of the light. 

This season of scarcity reminds us that we too are wild creatures belonging to this earth, and that we, like fox and stag and bear, need the bright sun and the green growing things to survive.

The Winter Solstice is a vigil for the continuation of life.


The simple, grounding Solstice rituals I'll share below make me feel deeply connected to the season and to the earth. For me, maintaining this connection is so important in order to navigate the winter months with a healthy spirit and mindset.  

I really encourage everyone to run with these, or to dream up your own rituals to make you feel connected to the season.

Bring the Forest Home

Now, I realize of course that putting up greenery is also a Christmas tradition, and that many of you who celebrate that holiday probably already have wreaths on your doors and trees decorating your homes...

But what I mean by this is, if you can, actually go out into the forest and collect things from the wild. Not all of us have the privilege to be able to do this, of course. But maybe you have a park nearby, or a small greenspace you can visit.

There is a grove of cedars, pines and spruces that I really love, and every year I try to go there and collect a few branches to bring them home and make into a wreath. 

Outings like this are a chance to connect with the forest, to observe what the winter is like there. To see the tracks of foxes and wonder about their lives, so different from ours. To walk through the cold fresh air and let the calm of winter sink into your bones.

Maybe you can take home a spray of rosehips, a few fallen pine branches, a sheet of bark from an old birch, a handful of pinecones...whatever you feel drawn to.

Bringing these things into your home and seeing them every day is a reminder of the life that still thrives even in the winter forest, and of your connection to the beautiful, sleeping earth just beyond your walls.

(Of course, when gathering from the wild, always try to be careful and conscientious about what you take. For tips on how to wildcraft, you can check out this post. And this one is specifically about conifers.)

Go Dark

On Solstice night, I like to turn out all the lights in my house, so that the only illumination is from a few candles.

Turn off your phone, don't switch on the tv. Just sit in the deep richness of the dark, be held in the womb of winter, indulge in the quiet of the longest night of the year. If it's a clear night, go outside for a minute and look at the stars.

You don't have to do this all night, of course. Just as long as you want, as long as it takes for the peace and quiet to sink in.

Hold a Circle

Invite a few close friends over and sit in a circle. I like to clear my living room floor, scatter a few cushions around, light candles in the center, and brew a pot of tea to share.

When we've all settled in, everyone takes a small piece of paper and writes down some things they want to let go of in the new year. Things that no longer serve, small hurts, patterns to be broken. If your friends feel up to it, go around the circle and speak about that things you've written. There is no pressure for anyone to share, and it's not a time to offer advice - it's just a moment to witness each other, acknowledge each other. When everyone is finished, add the papers to a firesafe bowl and burn them.

Afterward, you might all like to write down some things you want to call into your life in the next year; hopes, goals and dreams for the coming months. Fold up the little slips of paper and keep them. They become like little talismans, something you can dig out of your pocket or wallet or desk and look at when you feel like you're getting off track and need to re-center (which, of course, happens to us all!). 

Cook a Winter Feast

The holidays are already packed with cooking and eating giant meals. But maybe, for Solstice, think about doing something different, simple and nourishing, like a big delicious winter stew. Include root vegetables and warming herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme.

Bay, chamomile, pine and juniper are a few of the herbs that are specifically associated with Winter Solstice, so those might be a nice thing to try and include. I particularly like to include pine, spruce or fir in some way - most conifers are edible and add a really fresh, interesting flavor (for some ideas, you can check out this post I wrote last winter)

If you're so inclined, bake a big hearty bread for everyone to share (or to hoard for yourself, I don't judge...). 


However you choose to celebrate, I hope it will be peaceful, restful, and full of joy.

Be well,









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