Kindle Your Inner Fire
Winter Solstice is the rebirth of the Sun and is an important turning point in the year as it marks the longest night. Winter Solstice occurs at a specific time, not on just a certain day. This year on December 21, at 11:29 AM EST and 8:29 AM PST, the Sun will shine directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the southernmost point the Sun reaches in its apparent annual journey, causing colder temperatures and shorter days in the north. In the Southern Hemisphere, days are long and it’s high summer. On December 21, North America will see only nine and a half hours of daylight and fourteen and a half hours of darkness.
After Winter Solstice, the Sun seems to rise and set in the same place in the sky for three days. That’s why December 25 is significant as that’s when the Sun begins its northward motion. Many scholars believe the Christian church selected December 25 as the symbolic date of Jesus’s birth several centuries after his death, mystically linking him to many ancient and powerful solar deities and holidays such as the Roman Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun.
Winter Solstice, or Yule, is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year; it is the seed time, the longest night, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King. In many cultures Winter Solstice was associated with the birth of a “divine king,” a god of light. Since the Sun is considered to be a male divinity in many traditions, this time is celebrated as the “return of the sun god” as he is born again of the Goddess. At this time of year, the Goddess is in her dark Crone aspect, ‘She who cuts the thread,’ ‘Our Lady in Darkness’, severing the old year and calling back the light. At the same time, she gives birth to the Son who will fertilize the Earth, bringing back light and warmth to the world.
Fire festivals, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, held on the Winters Solstice can be found throughout the ancient world. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was held on the Winter Solstice. Boughs of evergreen trees and bushes would decorate the house, gifts where exchanged, and normal business was suspended. The Persian Mithraists held December 25th as sacred to the birth of their Sun God, Mithras, and celebrated it as a victory of light over darkness. In Sweden December 13th was sacred to the Goddess Lucina, “Shining One,” and was a celebration of the return of the light.
On Yule itself, around the 21st, bonfires were lit to honor Odin and Thor. The festival is also associated with the birth of older gods like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus, and even Arthur with a cycle of birth, death and resurrection.
Culturally, we do not allow enough space or value to darkness – the night’s deeps, Winter Solstice, dreaming in a cave, Yin energy, the formless, infinite, indefinable, unknowing realms of unconsciousness and shadow. Yet this is where creativity and energy are born. In a poetic sense it is on this, the longest night, ‘the dark night of our souls’, where a new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, is reborn within.
Take time this December 21 to welcome back the light. Many solstice rituals include lighting candles, incense, and setting intentions for the new year. It’s a perfect time to write down what needs to be released and burn the paper in a fire, releasing the old energy and liberating bound patterns. Meditating at the moment of solstice, settling into the deep and silent darkness, then lighting a single candle with intention, brings in powerful energy as a profound shift to the return of light.
Fan the spark of your inner fire and let it blaze with joy and inspiration. Joyous Solstice!