Oh Great Goddess, Bless us in this sacred time, as we honor the traditions of our Elder Sisters. I open a protected space for myself and for all living creatures on this planet. So mote it be.
The Wheel of the Year is the name of the annual cycle of seasons in Wicca, which is a spiritual movement based on ancient pagan religions and redefined by Gerald Gardner.
Wicca includes elements of beliefs from shamanism, druidism, and Greco-Roman, Slavic, Celtic, and Norse mythologies.
The wheel of the year has thirteen moons and eight holidays called sabbath or festival. These festivals are inspired by pre-Christian Celtic and Germanic festivals.
The wheel of the year and these celebrations are inspired by the rhythm of nature and the solar cycle. Festivals are divided into two categories.
The major festivals are the ancient Celtic festivals that celebrate important milestones in the year. These are Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh.
The minor festivals correspond to the solstices and equinoxes Yule, Ostara, Litha and Mabon. For each of these festivals, for each of its seasons, I try to offer you a podcast with some explanations and stories that may allow you to return to the basics, to recognize and celebrate the passage of time and the seasons, to celebrate the sun, source of light and life. I would also invite you to observe the rhythms of nature and to welcome the idea that our internal and personal rhythms are the reflections of these great natural rhythms which are the cycles of the Moon, but also those of the rotation of the Earth around the Sun.
I come today to talk to you about Yule, The Winter Solstice, festival of darkness and light, which stands like a pause on the darkest point of the year, a transition between between the descending light of Autumn and the hope that stems from knowing the light is reborn.
Winter is the sleep of nature. H.H. Jacobs
Season of darkness
The solstice is a pause in the dark. It's the shortest day of the year; the longest, darkest night. (Some places don't see the light AT ALL). Just like the dark moon day in the lunar cycle, Winter Solstice invites us to a suspension, a moment out of time.
There is a strong pull to slow down, to go within, to quieten, to nurture ourselves. It is the most Yin time of year, that means the most dark, most cold, most still, most quiet, most inward, most receptive, most feminine, most Watery time of the year…
We are invited to stay in the silent cold darkness and ponder, to actually HONOR that (rather than push against it or try to keep going), well, that’s what will serve us, our energy and our health the most this Winter...
Winter can be such a difficult season for so many of us. The long, dark days can feel very heavy or depressing. It can be a really challenging season. I believe a big part of that is because we're not aligned with the seasonal energy.
Our modern world and the demands we put on ourselves can keep us from our most important work in winter: REST.
Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, comfort food and consumerism. Too often, we go through winter out of alignment with the seasonal energy: we're working against it, and it's creating a lot of dis-ease in our spirits. It depletes us. When we’re aligned with the natural cycles, the energy is so supportive in our life.
Winter can be a really nurturing time. It is meant to nourish our spirit deeply. Like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.
It asks us to allow for the Listening, Visioning and Dreaming, to align, as much as we can, with the Winter energy.
On the winter solstice the Earth has tilted as far as it can possibly go away from the Sun – resulting in the shortest day of the year. On this day, the outside world is as dark as it gets.
The Sun has diminished as much as it possibly can. All of last year's growth has ended. The outside world is dead. Life has retreated deep inside.
We have come to the very end of this growth cycle. We’ve lived through a lot this year. And we’ve grown. A lot. There are things we've outgrown – things we're ready to leave behind in the year that is ending. This is a meaningful time to acknowledge and honor the endings that are occurring in your life. (Even if you don't know exactly what those are just yet.)
In actual fact winter is kind, and points us in its quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards this annual time of peace and reflection, embracing the darkness and forgiving, accepting and loving embracing goodbye the past year. Winter takes away the distractions, the buzz, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire and light to our hearth.
The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb-time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night. John O'Donohue
Season of light
The Winter solstice also celebrates the return of the light, the moment the energy really shifts, because it is also the moment the Sun is born again, when the daylight begins to grow again. And it reminds us, that even in the darkest moments, when all seems dead or frozen – a spark of hope remains. And held within that spark is limitless possibility.
In the natural world, the winter solstice is the beginning of the new year. A new cycle of growth is beginning.
Right now, the Sun is just a tiny little thing – not strong at all. But over the course of the coming year it will grow into a raging inferno, strong enough to inspiring massive growth in the natural world. (And massive growth in your own life, as well.)
That makes this moment a really hopeful, inspiring time on the wheel of the year; it's a time of infinite possibilities. This new spark that is lit on the winter solstice, this tine flame of inspiration, has the potential to grow into anything.
The winter solstice is nature's reminder, that even when life is its darkest – as dark as it can get – the tiniest spark of light, the faintest glimmer, of hope remain.
This is the darkest night, but it is also the moment the Sun begins to grow again. The winter solstice brings a spark of new life, of new hope, that will blossom and grow into something beautiful this spring. Rejoice that the light returns, honour the Great Mother as the infinite womb nurturing all potentiality into being, including our dreams.
Season of transformation
Winter is like the chrysalis stage in the evolution of the butterfly. This is the time when the caterpillar is wrapped up quietly, in the dark of her cocoon. To the outside world it doesn’t look like anything’s happening. Life is still; there’s no movement. But yet … deep in the dark, a quiet transformation is happening. The caterpillar is evolving into the magnificent butterfly.
This is the transformation our spirit, and all of nature, is undergoing throughout winter.
To the outside world life is still and quiet. The days are dark, the trees are bare. Everything appears dead, or frozen. You don’t see anything meaningful happening. But in the darkness, hidden inside or deep underground, a magical transformation is occurring.
We are evolving into a whole new magical creature. Whether we can see it in our life or not (and most likely we can’t, because that’s the nature of winter–winter’s power lies in the hidden, in the unseen) even still, hidden from view, your spirit is undergoing a significant transformation this season.
Our work this season is to be like the caterpillar. Wrap ourselves all snug in our cocoon, and simply rest. Rest. Rest. Rest.
No work is required for this evolution.
(And, in fact, working and doing will only get in our way.)
Season of being
This is a moment to connect our inner world -- our emotions, hopes, and fears -- to the rhythm of nature. It's time to go inward, reflect, let go, and set inspired intentions for the next year from the wise woman within you.
Up until Imbolc in February, when the Wheel of year turns again, we will be experiencing the so-called dark night of the soul. It’s about thinking, dreaming, looking inwards for answers...
What wants to emerge in my life ? What is the meaning of my life ? What are my dreams?
It’s about going deeper, deeper than it’s comfortable, looking for seeds, signs, synchronicities, It’s about undergoing difficult transitions and change, about living consciously, about having those conversations with yourself and with the people involved …
It’s about enhanced awareness, about finding a meaning of life, a purpose in the world
It’s also about sometimes painful shedding of previous conceptual frameworks around our identity, relationships, beliefs, etc.
It’s about getting rid of everything that doesn’t serve you … and opening up to the new… With stillness, time and introspection, we process our emotions and allow little bubbling ideas to be born …
It can be difficult. It’s going to last until Imbolc. A sort of Spiritual crisis … and then we rise!
Please do not convince yourself that you’re experiencing all that because you’re not doing enough …
May we allow ourselves
to descend into a time
of rest and renewal,
of replenishment and restoration.
May we honor the pause,
the slow and tired,
the quiet and contented.
May we allow ourselves to sink,
hands and hearts open,
into the cool embrace
the welcoming arms of waiting,
the patient cocoon
of rebirth and remembering.
Season of Celebration
So many ways to celebrate… Maybe just keep in mind the BEING part… and find ways to celebrate that honor the Crone, the dark, still Goddess of Winter - for more about that, find my articles here: https://isayabelle.com/meet-the-crone-one-of-the-four-feminine-archetypes
and here: https://isayabelle.com/to-the-crone
BE more, breathe, take time to switch off, walk in nature, be still, align, meditate, listen to peaceful music, knit, journal, read, go within, paint, pamper yourself, play like a child, rest, observe, sing under the stars, laugh, play with your oracle decks, pendulums and tarot cards, dance, give thanks, drink hot tea and eat comforting food, take time to envision … Absorb yourself in something that becomes an active meditation.
And make all that a celebration!
Of course you can find so many ways to celebrate that time of year with others too…
I for one am running a Vision Board Workshop this Saturday for instance - more about that here: https://isayabelle.thrivecart.com/2023-vision-board-afternoon/ and in the PS.
My good friend Lisa Jara is offering a glorious 12 mystical Nights program… Find it here: https://lisa-jara.com/en/mystical-twelve-holy-nights/
I’m joining a Free Paint Wisdom Circle by Connie Solera ... here: https://conniesolera.com/winter-solstice-paint-wisdom-circle
I’ll also be joining a sound healing Journey IRL on the 21st…
Just do a search on Social Media, I’m sure you’ll find tons!
Or create your own ritual… and invite others to join!
One simple thing I do every year… On the 21st, I open the front door of my house, maybe some of the windows, and with a chime or a smudge stick in hand, I bless my home and welcome the new light and abundance that is coming.
I invite you, as a Yule celebration to receive and use the mantra of the goddess Gaia.
I receive peace, stillness and rest in every breath I take.
I receive peace, stillness and rest in every breath I take.
I receive peace, stillness and rest in every breath I take.
Here are some suggestions for using this mantra.
When you see yourself in the mirror, for example, look into your beautiful eyes, then repeat the words out loud.
You can also put a reminder notification on your phone (at 3.33?) and when the mantra appears, take 3 deep breaths and repeat the words three times.
Or write the mantra on a post-it, place it near your bed and repeat it when you are preparing to fall asleep. Put your hand on your heart and repeat the mantra as many times as you want.
When you wake up in the morning, you can read the mantra out loud.
Again, I hope this mantra allows you to connect with the energy of Yule and the magic of Gaia. I hope it will allow you to hear how each breath you take can bring peace, stillness and rest.
So much for today ...
I would be so happy to hear from you about all that.
Thank you in advance for your comment.
See you soon, for my next online adventures!
Until then I send you love, light and gratitude.
PS: So… How about entering 2023 in a creative, fun, aligned way?
Let's spend 2 hours together creating our Vision Boards for 2023 in inspiration, intuition, and imagination !
We start with a meditation so we open up for change and the new coming... We let go of the old and welcome the new...
Then we get our fingers dirty and create a physical Vision Board for our 2023 amazing year! (We work with limited art supplies, you get sent a list when you book, this is NOT a digital vision board workshop)
We meet on Zoom on Saturday, December 17th, 2pm UK
Hope to see you in there: https://isayabelle.thrivecart.com/2023-vision-board-afternoon/