The Winter Solstice: Celebrating the Return of the Sun

The Winter Solstice: Celebrating the Return of the Sun

Yule Hearth with a hedgehog witch next to her cauldron wearing a Santa hat

The Winter Solstice is celebrated on or about December 21st in the northern hemisphere, and July 21st in the southern hemisphere. Also known as Midwinter, the longest night of the year, many celebrations that concern the return of the sun include gathering with loved ones, lighting candles or special fires, decorating with evergreens and red bows, and feasting.

Winter evergreen boughs

Cleanse & Meditate
The long, dark night is perfect for solitary meditation as well. Many animals hibernate through the winter, with good wisdom. Here is one of our favorite meditation rituals, sweet and simple, for cleansing your hearth and home, and ‘weeding’ your mental garden.

Start by sweeping your floors. Sweep everything out toward the north if you can. Imagine sweeping out shadows and stagnancy as you go. Spritz the air with salt water.

Light a candle to focus your attention, and to invite the sun’s return. Place some paper and a writing utensil nearby. Face north and sit comfortably. Breathe calmly and deeply. Allow all of your attention to return to you. Begin to focus inward.

Have a look around inside. Are there any habits or thought processes that you want to weed out and leave behind? Write them on your paper.


Think about what ‘seeds’ you want to plant instead. What projects have you always wanted to accomplish? What new habits do you want to form? Write them on a different part of your paper.

Speak your spell aloud and rip the paper so your weeds and seeds are on separate slices.

Get rid of the slice that has your weeds written on it. I put my weeds in our compost but you can throw them away or burn them using fire safety. You don’t want them. Get rid of them.

Plant your seeds. Either bury the slice of paper in a potted plant, out in the garden if it’s not too frozen, or under your pillow. Let them develop throughout the slow, chilly months. Give them your daydreams and be patient with them. It’s not quite growing time, but the best ideas must simmer a while anyway.

Winter tree filled with wishes on glowing parchment

Light Candles
Candles are key to many, most, possibly all solar return winter celebrations. Each religion uses candles in their own particular way, to be fair, but the spiritual aspect of candles is widely celebrated.

The gentle, flickering glow reaches an ancient place of coming together, staving the chill of the shadow months, warding away death, sending comfort to spirits that have passed on, and joy to the spirit of the season. For wishes and change, remembrance, solemnity, 

We celebrate the return of the sun with plenty of candles and wishes in our home. We love wishes because lots of times, when you say something out loud, you see more opportunities to make it come true.

Shine some light on your wishes. Write one down and place it beneath a candle jar. Light the candle, with an extra long pause, holding your wish in your mind and letting your future see opportunities that come to help.

Cedar evergreens, pine cones, and red berries on wood
Adorn your freshly cleansed space with colorful, sparkling seasonal delights and delicious scents.

A simmer pot wish tea makes your home smell amazingly cozy, extracts delicious flavors for a spiced winter tea, and focuses our winter wishes. Simmer several cups of water and anything good mulled. Ginger, apple slices, blueberries, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, chili powder for heat, orange slices and peel, fresh cranberries, cedar leaves (we grow our own), any anything else your imagination whispers - that is also safe for consumption. Add the magic of Intent, of whatever winter wishes you want to simmer with your potion, and each ingredient with gratitude. Simmer a half hour or more, add some water if you need to. Strain and sip, or prepare with a tea of your choice.

A vase with a few pine, cedar, spruce branches, plus a few wiggly bare branches tied with red bows adds winter sparkle to any tabletop. Evergreens keep their beautiful vital color throughout the winter months, when all the other plants are hibernating. They give us comfort and remind us of abundance. They smell lovely. Red bows remind us of the warm sun returning.

Pop some unsalted popcorn and string it together with fresh cranberries that you can buy at the grocery store. Drape them on trees and bushes outside for the birds and squirrels.

Christmas gifts under the tree

Give Thanks
One more tiny yet powerful idea: a quick but meaningful thank you note to someone nearby or you haven’t spoken to in some time. A thank you for a memory, or an action, or a moment. An out of the blue thank you to add a little sparkle to both parties’ day.

Happy Sun Return, friend. We are wonderfully grateful for you.

How do you like to celebrate the Winter Solstice, or your favorite winter holiday?
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