The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and therefore also the longest night. This is because it is the time when the earth is most inclined to the sun, and therefore receives the least light. Depending on the correspondence with the calendar, the winter solstice event takes place between 20 December and 23 December every year in the northern hemisphere, and between 20 June and 23 June in the southern hemisphere.
The day of the winter solstice was a day of celebration in many ancient civilizations around the world, in which sun worship played a predominant role. With the winter solstice winter officially begins, the moment when the sun enters the sign of capricorn and symbolically announces the rebirth of the day, the resurrection of the sun, as it is from this precise moment that the days begin to lengthen and the nights begin to shorten, until we reach the spring equinox, where light triumphs over darkness and the day is longer than the night.
The winter solstice has been one of the most important celebrations of the year since time immemorial. As I have said, from that moment on, the light of the sun overcame the darkness, and that is why in many cultures it is related to the birth of their gods (horus, dionysius, buddha, Jesus Christ…)
In ancient Rome, Saturnalia was celebrated in December, in honour of the reign of the god Saturn. Saturnalia was a week-long festival of feasting and drinking. Throughout the week, the social order was reversed: the masters served the slaves, the slaves became masters and held high office in the state, and it was traditional to exchange gifts.
The Saturnalias were also a celebration of the end of darkness and the beginning of a new year. Here you can see a fragment of the words that the priestess pronounced for the rite of the Saturnalia:
This is the night of the solstice, the longest night of the year. Now darkness triumphs and yet there is still a little light left. The breath of nature is suspended, everything waits, everything sleeps. The Dark King lives in every little light. We wait for the dawn when the Great Mother will again give birth to the sun, with the promise of a new spring. Such is the eternal movement, where time never stops, in a circle that envelops everything. We turn the wheel to hold the light. We call the sun from the womb of the night. So be it.
This year, 2015, the winter solstice will take place on Tuesday, December 22nd, at 05.48 when the sun will enter the sign of Capricorn. Even today we believe that this is the beginning of some magical days that will last until the beginning of January.
At this time, during these days, an energetic door opens that allows us to close the past and open up to the future. The energy accumulated in these days is very, very strong, it makes the magic even more effective and the wishes are fulfilled. And this is because the winter solstice is esoterically considered to be ‘the door of the gods’, the cosmic moment when the divine forces manifest themselves on earth
The meaning or interpretation of this event has varied in different cultures around the world, but most cultures recognise it as a period of renewal and rebirth, involving festivals, rituals and other celebrations. This moment was considered by many cultures as the beginning of the year, and that is the reason for the celebrations
In Celtic culture, the festival of the winter solstice was called Yule. The Yule designates the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.
During the Yule festival it was traditional to burn the Yule trunk, a long tree trunk that burned slowly throughout the entire season of celebrations, in honour of the birth of the new sun. And in fact, from that tradition came the trunk shaped cakes (chocolate trunks) that today are eaten at Christmas.
For all those who believe in magic, in energies, it is the moment to take stock of the year that is about to end. It is the time to do a great energetic cleaning of the houses – before starting to put the Christmas decorations – and also, it is the right time for unloading baths, in order to enter the new year – new cycle – as light as possible. It is the right time to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made, to examine the achievements we have made, to plan what we want to achieve in the new cycle and, just as light overcomes darkness, to emerge purified and with new strength. In other words, renewed.
On a more magical level, the rituals that are performed these days are extraordinarily enhanced. Many tarot artists – including myself – take advantage of the incredible strength of the energies accumulated at this time to cleanse the tarot cards and to recharge them with all the energy of this change of cycle. And whoever says tarot cards, also says amulets, talismans, power stones, pendulums, etc.
An example of a ritual that can be done on this day is to wash the whole house with a mixture of water, salt, rue, lavender and a little bit of eau de cologne – there are specific waterings for this that are even better than the home recipe that I give here – one must start from the room furthest from the door, to the door itself. Throw this water out into the street. Then, pass through the whole house a cleaning fumes, starting from the entrance door and always in a clockwise direction, opening doors, cupboards and drawers. Letting the smoke impregnate everything in order to clean the accumulated energies.
This as far as the house itself is concerned. As for the people, the ideal is to take a bath – those who are interested will find a wide variety on my website – and after that, wearing light and comfortable clothes, you can do the following ritual:
Choose an incense that you like. Play a soft and relaxing music. You need 6 candles: purple, green, white, red, yellow, blue. On the ground, form two large triangles exactly, so that they cross to form a 6-pointed star. If you have enough space, make it big, so that you can sit in the middle. If not, make it smaller and sit next to it.
Try to relax. It’s time to take stock, trying to concentrate on the year that has passed, visualizing everything that has happened during this time, reflecting on what you have done well or badly; on what you should have done or tried. This will help you to know with total clarity the wishes you should make in this ritual for the next year. Once you are clear about your wishes for the next cycle, you will write them down on a white piece of paper in pencil. You will fold it several times and keep it under a figure that means a lot to you – for example a saint – or in an important book for you, such as the Bible.
Let all the candles burn out, and visualize as long as possible how the past is behind you, and how everything you desire comes to you.