Ancient Rites and Dark Nights

Vicki Howd of Indigo Herbs explores the Winter Solstice celebrations

PLUS: Winter Solstice Hampers up for grabs

As the Wheel of the Year turns to the Winter Solstice, nature is slumbering under a thick blanket of snow and darkness, harbouring the seeds of new life.

In the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice occurs when the sun is at its southernmost or lowest point in the sky. This year that will be at precisely 4.28pm on 21 December. Solstice literally translates as “sun stands still”, which is what it appears to do for three days before it starts to move northwards once more, bringing with it the light.

In a spiritual sense, it is a time to go deep within – to rediscover and rebirth our own soul spark, in line with the resurrection of the physical sun. Is our inner landscape ripe and fertile for the seeds we wish to plant and nurture over the coming months? Travelling through your own soul’s garden – what needs to be tended to, what is growing nicely? What energy are we putting out into the world? Will we be able to bring our hopes and dreams forth into physical manifestation?

According to author and intuitive healer Elva Thompson, the Winter Solstice is the earth’s collective “in-breath”. She says, ‘The earth breathes once a year: the in-breath takes place over the four days of the Winter Solstice – 19-22 December, and the out-breath at the Summer Solstice – 19-22 June. The collective resonance of human awareness at the Winter Solstice[in-breath] is critical to the well-being of life on Earth…”. On a planetary scale, our thoughts and intentions are important at this time, as what is breathed in will surely be breathed out again on the Summer Solstice.

Honouring the Divine Feminine
Whilst the Summer Solstice is infused with the transformative energy of the Divine Masculine, the Winter Solstice imparts the powerful energy of the Divine Feminine; renewal, creation, birth, receptivity, nurturing, motherhood, love, intuition, wisdom, compassion and harmony. The Crone aspect of the triple goddess rules these dark days, her cauldron representative of the womb, giver of life.

Use the energy of this season to pamper your inner Goddess. Make some time for yourself, whether it be for quiet contemplation, a healing or massage you’ve been promising yourself, or a soothing, candlelit aromatherapy bath.

Pagan Origins of Christmas?
There are many seemingly pagan traditions, all taking place on and around the Winter Solstice, that have made their way into our modern-day festivities. Evergreens were seen to represent everlasting life, with the Christmas tree growing out of the tradition of decorating your home with fir boughs, an ancient symbol of life in the midst of winter. The mistletoe (and kissing underneath it) harks back to Celtic times where it was suspended over doorways as a symbol of peace and good will to all comers at Yuletide.

Our ancestors observed both the masculine and feminine aspects of nature with the tradition of bringing in the Holly and the Ivy. The male holly – personified by the Holly King – with its sexually potent red berries, and the female Ivy, representative of the Goddess who keeps life going through the harsh winter months.

The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of Yule, a celebration which lasts for 12 days, this being the origin of the Christian “12 days of Christmas”.

The tradition of the Yule Log also hails back to Celtic times and was the highlight of the Winter Solstice. Decorated with seasonal greenery such as holly, ivy and mistletoe to represent the intertwining of the god and the goddess, then dusted in flour, doused in cider and set ablaze with a torch made from wood left over from last year’s Yule log, transferring the light from one year to the next, it symbolised the new-born sun.  The log was then burnt for the 12 days of Yule before being ceremonially extinguished.

About Indigo Herbs: Indigo Herbs supplies a broad range of plant based natural health ingredients including herbs, superfoods, wholefoods and aromatherapy. Sourcing the finest quality ingredients from around the globe since 2005 Indigo Herbs are passionate about supporting people on their journey to optimum health and wellbeing. Indigo Herbs also publishes a natural health guide, blog and recipe collection.

This hamper is packed with herbs and superfoods to boost your immune system and fortify your spirits through the winter months. Celebrate the solstice with some home-made vegan chocolate and a cup of Get Well Stay Well Immune boosting herbal tea, then run a hot bath and add invigorating essential oils. Your prize includes: Organic Chocolate Starter Kit 300g, Organic Supergreens Powder 100g, Echinacea Tincture 100ml, Eucalyptus Essential Oil 10ml, Get Well Stay Well Essential oil, Get Well Stay Well Herbal Tea 50g, Organic Cold pressed Coconut Oil 500ml. To be in with a chance of winning, send your name and address to [email protected] with Winter Solstice Hamper in the subject line. Competition ends 31 January 2018.

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