Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and that’s very much on my mind. In pagan times, my Scandinavian ancestors, along with many cultures around the world, would celebrate this day, this return of the light, by decking their homes with greens and herbs, and keeping fires burning all night long. It was the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun, a time to feast before the long, cold winter to come.
For many years Dale and I have celebrated the solstice quietly and privately, just the two of us. We write our regrets on slips of paper, share them with each other, and then ignite them in the wood stove. We burn candles and toast to the return of the light with homemade glögg as we share our hopes and wishes for the year to come. This ritual feels particularly important in 2020, as we are more than ready for a fresh start, eager to release our own personal trauma as well as the trauma that has been engulfing our whole world.
A dear friend and mentor of mine, Heather Wood, recently shared how she celebrates Yul and I think her wisdom is something you all might find beneficial. These are her words, and I have her permission to share them.
Carry: what do I want to carry in to next year? What felt good? When I felt the most present and happy, what was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? I’m going to carry those things in to next year.
Shift: what feels like it needs to evolve or change as it comes with me in to the next year? What’s not quite in alignment? What interactions or situations didn’t feel great? How can I shift those things to feel better next year?
Cut: what needs to be cut from my life? What felt toxic, brought me down, disrupted happy states? How do I cut it out of my life in a way that feels right?
In addition to our other rituals, I will spend some time today thinking about what I want to carry, shift, and cut on this solstice. I encourage you to do the same as you celebrate the return of the light. And don’t forget to go outside and look for the Christmas star just after sunset tonight; Jupiter and Saturn haven’t passed this close to each other in the night sky in nearly 800 years.
God Jul, my friends. God Jul.