Tonight is famously the longest, darkest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. More positively, tonight can also mark when the Sun begins to reclaim this side of the planet. Winter Solstice is commonly referred to as Yule, a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy giving birth to the Sun. For hundreds of years, this time has been seen as one of re-birth and the start of new cycles.
Regardless on what you believe about celestial natality, this night is a perfect opportunity for personal reflection, renewal, and re-focusing. The Release the Women community celebrated Winter Solstice this week with a yoga and wellness workshop. It was truly magic, and our hearts were so happy to spend such a sacred night with everyone that made it out.
If you couldn’t make it this Thursday, tonight is the best night of all to celebrate. If you want to join in on the fun, here are some things to do on the Winter Solstice.
We opened up our night with a meditation practice lead by Theodora, a writer and paranormal guide from Marietta, Georgia. This ritual is not tied to any specific religion. And if you aren’t a spiritual person, this practice can still be a lovely way to reflect on and let go of the past.
- A small candle. Tea candles and chime candles work best, but anything you have on hand small enough to burn until gone will work!
- A small piece of bread. Any kind works! Bake your own if you would like
- A quiet space
- Find a quiet, private space – somewhere cozy with pillows, blankets, and soft music will make the meditation easier.
- Place the candle, lighter, and bread within reach. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
- Clear your mind and steady your breathing. Give yourself as much time as needed.
- When you’re ready, think back on the last year as a whole. It may look like an image or a compilation of moments.
- Next, hold the candle and think of the hardest, darkest part of your year. Feel whatever emotions come in their entirety. Let yourself mourn the hardships the last year has brought. Finally, place the candle somewhere safe and light it while saying a prayer of thanks. Let the candle burn down completely.
- Take the bread in your hands and remember all you’ve gain and received in the last year – both the things you’ve been gifted and the things you’ve fought for. Let these thoughts fill you with gratitude and happiness. Eat the bread to symbolize the abundance of the year to come.
- End the ritual thanking your deity of choice, the Universe in all its complexities, and yourself
Yoga is another practice commonly done during the Solstice. One of our co-founders, Elizabeth Endara, led us through a flow after the meditation, moving on from grieving the past year to centering ourselves in the present.
“In this yoga practice, the goal isn’t perfect alignment. The goal is embodiment. Notice what comes up for you as you move through a flow. Is there an emotion or sensation? Where and how does it manifest? The yoga poses are an invitation to explore where you are right now, in the present moment.”
Here are some Winter Solstice poses you can try at home:
A big big part of Winter Solstice is looking forward to the future, to the new year, new goals, and new intentions. Jaqueline Ospina closed out the night with a vision board workshop.
“It’s easy to get bogged down by our day to day responsibilities as adults, especially in the winter months as we may not have as much energy and it’s a little harder to get out of bed in the morning. This is why my vision board has been so helpful for me. When your are feeling worn down, it is a good reminder of why you are doing what you are doing and helps you have a little more tunnel vision on where you want to go instead of getting distracted by all the expectations of the world.”
Here are some guidelines to making a vision board of your own:
Dieting or fitness goals tend to be the most common new years resolutions. While those goals can be great, there are so many other areas that you could grow in. In choosing your yearly goals, try focusing on these areas.
- Friends and family/community
- Home improvement
- Health and wellness
- Recreation and fun
- Inspiration and creativity
Now is a great time to be reflective and discover what will really be most important to you this year. You can ask yourself these questions while goal setting:
- What do you most value in life?
- Who do you aspire to be?
- What are you most passionate about?
- If money or education were not an issue, what would you love to do for a living?
- When do you feel most like yourself?
- What are your top three strengths?
- What do others most admire about you?
- What are you holding yourself back from?
- What unique gifts do you have to share with others?
- What does your ideal life look like?
“Don’t forget that your goals may change throughout the year! That is ok! We are flexible malleable souls, and our priorities can change. The purpose of goals isn’t to make you feel obligated or trapped into doing something. The purpose is to search deep inside and find what you truly want for your life. Then getting rid of the obstacles and distractions that are standing in the way.”
Victoria Marie Ward is co-founder and head writer for Release the Women. She has a passion for coffee, Lord of the Rings, and for empowering and sharing the stories of women and other marginalized groups. You can follow her journey on Instagram @toriamarieward.