Winter was a time of hibernation, staying home and living off stored bounty. Our ancestors lived their lives according to the ever-changing rhythms of the seasonal wheel. They synced with nature as it slept through winter.
The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. This start of the solar year is a celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun. Though the cold darkness was upon them, the rebirth of the Sun was a promise of brighter days to come. People came together to celebrate in gratitude. For the return of the sun meant new life and hope was on the horizon.
Although there are many traditions across the generations and cultures a few things remain the same. I wanted to touch on those perspectives in relation to the wheel in the Witchy Woman Box.
If you can spend some time placing yourself in a cold winter, back before electricity. A time when we relied on fires for warmth, deer and elk for food and good company for spirit you will find direction and meaning for your yuletide celebrations.
Below is a ‘Winter Meditation’ from LLewellyns “Yule” 2016 book.
While most meditations tend to mellow us out, this one is decidedly aimed at energizing. I recommend doing it in the morning: do it at night and you may have trouble sleeping. Settle yourself in a quiet room at a time in which you will be undisturbed Wear loose clothing and sit in a way that feels comfortable. Lay your hands quietly in your lap with your fingers relaxed Follow this meditation, breathing slowly and with intention:
You are sitting on a log in a forest clearing. The log is rough and cold. The air is cold, maybe freezing. As you breathe, in and out, you feel the cold air pull deep inside of you. You feel bits of snow falling gently against your skin. Everything is silent around you. You are silent, too. Your mind is silent. Your breathing is silent. Your thoughts are silent. You feel yourself as one with the winter night. A deep peacefulness comes over you. You sit quietly for some time, feeling this peaceful quiet.
(Allow some time to pass.)
Still enfolded in silence, you become aware of a sensation deep within you. It is the smallest hint of warmth, as if a candle was flickering deep inside. You focus on the warmth; it isn’t yet enough to create actual heat, but it is real. As you wait, the warmth begins to grow steadily. You imagine a tiny ball of warmth and light inside you. Now it’s about the size of a walnut. Now it’s the size of a small orange. Now a grapefruit. You feel it hum-it feels alive. It feels wonderful. It fills you with warmth, and you sit with it, basking in how good it feels. You feel warm and completely safe.
You become aware of the log you’re sitting on, which no longer feels rough and cold but now feels warm and inviting. The air around you feels warmer, too. The air you pull in and out, in and out of your lungs is gently warm and feels moist. Without looking, you become aware that there are other logs around you, and that others sit on the logs, just as you sit on yours. Without looking you know that these are your loved ones. You can see each of their faces. You smile, then you pull back to focus again on long, slow, warm breaths. You become aware that all of the logs are arranged in a circle around a great Fire pit. A huge pile of wood is arranged in the pit; the pile is dark and silent.
As you keep breathing silently, in and out, you be come aware of a small bit of light in the center of the woodpile. It’s as if the small flame that once burned within you has now found its way into the wood. As you breathe in and out, it’s as if your breath feeds the flame. When you breathe in, the tiny flame rises up, a little higher each time. When you breathe out, the flame pushes away momentarily and then rushes up again. In and out, in and out.
The flame begins to grow. You can hear the wood hissing and crackling as it catches fire. The fire grows. Soon, the fire pit is alive with light and sound. Your breathing picks up slightly from the excitement. You can feel the heat coming from the fire-it warms your face and makes you feel alive. You reach your hands out toward the flame and imagine the warmth filling you with life and energy. You’re aware of your loved ones doing the same. Together with them, a circle of energy surrounds the bonfire and courses through you. You have never felt more alive! Your heart and soul sing with energy.
As you experience this, as you feel the light and energy and joy, the scene is suddenly rent by a shard of light from the rising solstice sun, and even the fire cannot compete with the sun’s brilliance. Holding this scene in your mind’s eye, you take three slow, deep, breaths before opening your eyes. Go forth into your day, energized and inspired!