How to Prepare for the Winter Solstice

new year

Winter Solstice 2020 is going to be HUGE! There is so much going on astrologically that can help guide us through the next year and beyond that we want to prepare for the Winter Solstice. Don’t let it catch you off guard.

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There’s lots of topsy turvy energy coming our way that can pave the way for big healing, new connections, and a deeper sense of sovereignty. Here are some tips for how to prepare for the Winter Solstice. Be sure to put your own individual spin on it.

Clean House

The new year is a time to clean house. I don’t mean a quick dusting and vacuuming, but a deep, all over clean. Throw out all the things that are no longer of use. Put things away. Clean into all the cracks and corners. Bring light and energy into every closet and shelf. This is a top to bottom loving care of all of your things.

You may want to paint to brighten things up and change the energy. Clean windows helps more light to come in. Fresh flowers or plants also brings life into the home. Anything dead or dingy should be moved out. Clutter is also a big no no. Anything that obstructs the free flow of movement should either be moved or thrown away.

What we bring into the new year stays all year. If you want all this amazing energy to have space to transform you and your life, (and being in the wheel of life means being willing to evolve), you have to make space.

Cleanse Your Body

Everything needs to be purified. Your physical form is where your soul rests. Make time to ritually purify your body. You may wish to don a new set of clothing especially to welcome in the new year.

Cleanse Your Mind

Meditation is a great way to cleanse your mind of busy, intrusive, or negative thoughts. You can start a meditation practice right now to empty your mind every day. Each day is a new start. Finish the thoughts from the day before. Let your worries filter into the earth. Decide with the new sun whether you want to pick them up again.

One of my goals for my life is to live at 0. I strive to put down everything at the end of the day so that I live “clean.” This is what meditation does for me. It enhances clarity so much when your lens is always clean.

Cleanse the Air

If your space is too dry from your furnace, add some moisture with a humidifier. Add a fresh essential oil to the water, like something citrusy or some lavender essential oil to perk things up. If you need more of a heavy duty banishing oil, use three of the following essential oils in equal parts: bay, pine, eucalyptus, basil, sage, lavender, vetiver, rosemary, or lemon.

Practice Gratitude

Another way to prepare for what’s coming is to give thanks for the blessings you have already received. We can miss abundance if we live in an attitude of lack. When we see blessings for what they are, we have more of them.

Be Open to Receiving

We all have a better chance of receiving what we get clear on what it is what we want and allow ourselves to receive it.

Here is a story to show you what I mean. One day a man was sitting in his house when it began to rain very hard. Seeing the water rising, the man thought, “I’m going to be stuck” so he asked the Spirits to help him. Shortly afterwards, a woman in a big truck came by and said, “This isn’t looking too good. Would you like to come with me?” The man said, “No, thanks. The Spirits are going to save me.”

When the water started entering the house, the man went to the second story window to watch and wait. A man in a boat came by and offered to take him to safety. The man said, “No thanks, the Spirits will help me.”

The water kept rising, so the man went to the roof to wait. A helicopter came by and lowered a rope for the man to climb to safety. The man waved them away saying, “It’s okay. The Spirits will save me.”

When the man drowned, the Spirits met him in the Otherworld. The man confronted them saying, “I waited for you. Why didn’t you save me?” The Spirits replied, “We sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter.”

What you desire can’t come in if you aren’t open to receiving. Your eyes have to see the blessing. Your heart has to accept it. It doesn’t always come in the form that you want or expect. It can’t come at all if you don’t say “yes.”

Be Willing to Sacrifice

Everything worth having comes at a sacrifice. There is always an exchange of energy. In the western world, we often distill it down to money, and although that helps in the material world, the currency of the Otherworld is quite different. You may need to give up comfort, ego, being right, entitlement, your stuff, time, family, friends, loved ones, your mind, or any number of things. When something is no longer of use, it becomes baggage. We need to sacrifice it to become who are are now.

Are you feeling the weight of this new beginning now? I hope so. It’s big. I want you to be prepared for the greatness that it has to offer. Ready?

Earth and Sky Meditation

earth and sky meditation

Meditation doesn’t have to be long or hard. Here’s an easy, quick earth and sky meditation that can help you purge, ground, and connect. It is so beneficial that you may find you use it every day.

Whenever you want to start the day right or get things back on track, step outside where you have a clear view of the sky and some greenery. I find trees work best, but use whatever calls to you.

This can be modified for indoors by peering out the window to see the sky and using a potted plant. Additionally, you could also do this in your mind’s eye with your favorite memory of a special place.

Now become very mindful of your thoughts. Notice them. Are they are muddled, negative, painful, clear, or inspiring?

Slowly bring your gaze up to the sky looking up and out. See as far and wide as your eyes can see. If you noticed that your thoughts that were not what you’d like, release them into the atmosphere. The element of Air is intangible. You can’t pin Air down. It dissipates. So just let those thoughts dissipate into the Air.

Trust that the sky knows just what to do with those thoughts to transform them. If they seems too heavy, ask the wind to carry it away. Sometimes a soft breeze is perfect. Sometimes a strong wind is better. You’ll know what to ask for. Just speak from the heart and let it happen.

If your thoughts feel peaceful and clear in this moment, as your gaze goes up and out, looking far and wide just let yourself fill with gratitude. Expand that peace and gratitude so that it fills the Air around you. Breathe in the spaciousness and wonder of the universe.

Continue to sky gaze until it feels “done.”

Now bring your gaze to a plant that seems pleasing and receptive to join you in this practice. Look down at the lowest part where the plant is rooted into the Earth. Feel what it’s like to be that grounded, that deeply rooted. Linger here and let it deepen.

When you have that sensation in your body, begin to look at the stems of the plant. Notice all the details- the colors and textures. If you are outside, it’s okay to even reach out and touch it.

Continue looking upward until you reach the top of the plant. As you mindfully gaze at the plant, notice your thoughts and feelings. You may sense a feeling of being more grounded and connected with the wider world. If not, just notice what there is to notice. There is no right or wrong, and things will likely be different each time you participate in this meditation.

Finish by giving yourself a few moments to return to the here and now. You may wish to journal about your experience if the event yielded things you wish to capture and retain.

Rowan Full Moon Ritual

rowan

The rowan tree’s strongest energies are: protection against enchantment or manipulation, discrimination, astral travel, connection to ecstasy, universal unconditional love, higher consciousness, connection to the mystery, and gateways between this and that. As we are nearing the Winter Solstice, a liminal space between peak darkness back into light, the rowan will be our guide back into the light.

Meditating the the rowan, or just sitting by one, lifts the emotions, enhances relaxation, and helps people let go of tension, stress, and strain. This opens the way to healing, strength, and purpose.

The Rowan Full Moon Ritual

For this ritual, you will need a dark space, candles, soothing music, and something to eat.

If you would like to purify your space and yourself, start by doing that with white sage, palo santo, incense, water, or Florida water.

Once you have separated your ritual space from the apparent reality,  call in and acknowledge the energies that you wish to inhabit this space with you. You can say something like:

I call to the Moon, the Sister in the sky who helps me become comfortable with my darkness, my softness, my emotions, and the divine feminine within. Please come be with me on this my full moon ritual.

I call to Mother Earth. I thank you for all the ways that you see to my needs. You ground me and provide for me. I ask that you come into this space today to support me and give me healthy boundaries.

I call to the Rowan, the protector and guardian of liminal spaces. Please be with me on this my full moon ritual. I ask for your guidance to help me grow in love.

Read through the following meditation. Feel free to edit it to fit your particular circumstances. You can either read it into a voice recorder to play back to yourself or guide yourself through the meditation in darkness.

The Meditation

Find a place where you can sit or lie down without being disturbed for the next few minutes. If you can be in the moonlight, that would be ideal.

Turn on your music.

Make yourself comfortable, and take a deep, cleansing breath, in through the nose and out through the nose. Inhale slowly and deeply without straining, just nice easy and relaxed. And let your breath just fall out of your body as you exhale- pushing it all the way out. Yes, that’s right. Let’s do that again, one more time.

Now, as you inhale and exhale slowly and easily, creating a rhythm so that the inhale and exhale are the same length… nice and relaxed. Forming a soothing, easy rhythms. Breathing in from the bottoms of your feet to the top of your head. As you breathe in from the bottom of your feet, imagine that your feet are connected solidly to Mother Earth. She is holding you safe and stable and all the air that you bring into your lung is infused with her love. She’s cleansed it with the Earth so that all that you bring in is love and light. That’s right. Feel that love and light entering your body. Cleaning, healing, repairing your whole mind, body, and spirit.

And each time you exhale, you bring out with you any pain, stress, strain, toxins… any feelings of failure, shame, guilt, – or anything that is stuck and holding you back –  so that you can solidly connect with the pure love that is inside of you. That space that is clean, healthy, vibrant, and alive. Let it shine clearly. Radiating peace, calm, love, and joy.

That’s right. Now, imagine with me that we’re going for a walk in the woods. It’s nighttime. The air is warm and comfortable. And even though it’s nighttime, there is a full moon above illuminating everything is a silvery blue glow. There is more than enough light to see very clearly. All the same, you walk slowly, savoring the beauty of the night. Walking towards a small clearing surrounded by a group of trees. With each slow step you take, your mind becomes more and more focused on every small detail of the woods. You are so focused on the journey that you remember to forget the pain in your heart. That’s right, just remember to forget about it for now.

Now, we know that pain is a symptom of an imbalance and we don’t want to overlook that. We just want to disconnect from that pain long enough to follow it to the root. So with each step you take into the woods, it feels are though the pain moves further and further away.

In the woods ahead, notice that there is a dome of light that seems to create a sanctuary, a space of protection where you are perfectly safe. Head towards that and notice an almost imperceptible shift in the energy as you pass through. It’s as if you have a halo of safety and protection all around you. Anything that is not safe must stay outside of the bubble. Here you can move freely, breathe freely, and just relax. And since you can relax, you feel that warning light of pain just move further and further away. If we need it to come on later, it will be there letting you know that something is still out of balance, but for now, in this space of protection, we can turn it off.

So let’s head now to the center of the wood where there is a small clearing. As we reach the clearing and you notice the different trees. Some have leaves, some have needles. You find yourself drawn to one with small, elongated green leaves and scarlet berries. This feels like just the right place to sit down, so you make yourself comfortable, and sit with your back up against the tree- feeling deeply supported. You can let go. The tree will hold you up so that you can rest, relax, and let someone else do the work for you right now. That’s it.

Let yourself open up to the energy within you. Letting that love and light that you’re breathing in expand your energy field around your body. You may even notice, if you are sensitive and paying attention, that your energy field can feel the energy field of the tree behind you.

Notice that you’re well supported by the tree. You see, this is a rowan tree. Like people, all trees have energy. The energy of the rowan tree is to protect, banish, and sustain. It is a doorway that can open or close gates. Also like all trees, the roots can carry your pain into Mother Earth where she can filter and transmute it back into life giving energy.

So feel free to continue breathing from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, and each time you exhale, and imagine what it would be like if you could give all that pain now to the tree. And that tree sends it to the Earth and away from you. It could be that easy. Just give it all away.

You are in the perfect place now to do some permanent healing. Rowan trees can banish energies instantly. People do heal spontaneously without a lot of work. It can be easy. The moon is here to assist in your healing too.

You see, the moon is a symbol for the deepest feminine energy. She is our darkness, our shadow. When she is full, she shines a light into that shadow so that we can see it fully. Once exposed of course, we can work to acknowledge it, accept it, heal it, love it. Sometimes it’s as easy as that. Sometimes the moonlight shines a light on how to help ourselves. Maybe we need to make a change. Maybe we need outside help. The moon can show us the way.

So, open your mind now, and let the moon shine on what it is that you need to heal fully and completely now. You might get the answer right away. It might come later. Sometimes it comes in dreams or in a song. When you get the answer, it will be crystal clear. Or perhaps you already know the answer. However it comes for you is okay.

I’m going to give you a few minutes now to breathe, relax, and enjoy the moonlight with your rowan tree. You may get more insights, but if not know that whatever is meant to happen right now, is exactly what is happening right now.

Alright, it’s time to leave our healing grove. Before we do take a moment to thank the moon for her loving support. Know that every time you look up at her, she’s blessing you with her light.

Thank the Earth for all she does to sustain our bodies and support us.

Thank the tree for her healing energy.

Once you are done, continue breathing and walk out of the protective bubble within the woods, bringing back the peace and calm, and open your eyes. Give yourself a moment to adjust and return to the world feeling refreshed, relaxed, healthy, and whole.

When you are fully present again, light the candle. Illuminate the darkness and bring back all that you gained from your travels.

Be sure to eat something to help yourself get grounded again.

You may wish to write down what you experienced so that you don’t forget it.

Finish by acknowledging and releasing what you called in. For example:

I thank Mother Earth, Sister Moon, and Rowan for being here. The circle is now open.

Resume your day!

Your Summer Solstice Celebration

summer solstice

Summer solstice is upon us! What are you doing for your summer solstice celebration? No clue? Don’t want a public drunken, rowdy bonfire? Here is a suggestion that will keep is sacred and simple.

Plan Your Altar

Prepare by gathering what you want for your altar. Think about what this time means for you. Summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the peak of masculine energy. Do certain colors bring this idea out for you? What about things that represent the sun and the fiery element of summer, like candles? How much light is too much? What about solar symbols? What’s growing right now? Would you like to add any food elements, either for decoration or as an offering?

Do you want to bring in the idea of duality? Yin and yang; earth and sky; fire and ice; the god and goddess; oak and holly? What other things represent this time for you?

To Dress or Not to Dress?

How do you want to dress? Is this a formal, sacred celebration where you ritually bathe and don special clothing or is this a “come as you are” event? Either is fine. If you choose to wear ritual clothing, you just may want to decide that in advance so that you are prepared.

Flame or Blaze?

For this observance we are going to need fire. It can be a long lasting candle, many candles, a small camping fire, or a bonfire. Again, it’s your choice. You may need to plan ahead just to make sure you have what you need. Bigger isn’t better. It’s just a personal choice.

Solstice Eve

On the eve of the solstice, set up your altar. Purify your body. Don your apparel. Bring out some water and/or other libation. Create your sacred space – hopefully in a place outside where you can see the sunrise.

Now you are either going to take a nap and get up by 11:45 p.m. or not go to sleep. You want to start before midnight.

For this observation, sit up through the night, contemplate the energy of the sun, the seasons, the land, and Nature herself. Let your mind stay open and empty to whatever the elements want to say to you. As you do this, you can stare into the flames, sing, dance, or do whatever you feel called to do that doesn’t put you in your thinking mind. You want to stay in a place of open wonder and contemplation. This doesn’t have to mean that it’s solemn. It can be joyous, pure, and vulnerable. You just don’t want it to be about entertainment, a spectacle, or a performance.

Watch the northeast sky for a break in the horizon. As the sun lightens the night sky, give gratitude for the warmth, food, and life that it brings. If you can’t see the actual sun disc, just face in the direction that it would be if you could see it. Once it’s fully over the horizon, drink a toast to the sun. Speak your gratitude and make an offering of your libation on the ground.

Close your ceremony by saying something like, “This sacred ceremony of the summer solstice is now closed. Thank you, Sun. Hail and farewell.”

For more tips, check out our Summer Solstice Recipes and our article about Magical Summer Solstice Herbs.

The Lotuses are Here!

lotus

Have you seen the lotuses returning? They are here, popping their beautiful heads out of the mud.

Lotuses are considered sacred flowers in the East and Middle East. They symbolize Man’s spiritual path. They  grow in the mud, flower during the day, retreat at night, but are reborn with the sun looking fresh and clean again. Humans also must ascend through the muck to blossom into purity and beauty.

Lotus Symbols

For the ancient Egyptians, the lotus symbolized rebirth. It hides its head at night and is reborn with the sun each day. The lotus appears in every temple, pillar, and headdress of ancient Egypt.

The archangel Gabriel was often depicted surrounded by lotuses. For ancient Greeks and Romans, this symbolized grace and wisdom.

Buddhists see the lotus as a symbol of detachment. It floats serenely above the mud and waters of desires.

In Asia, the strong plant fibers represent the bonds of family that help to stabilize people throughout their lives.

Lotus Medicine

The lotus is as useful as it is beautiful. Unlike many plants that have a long history of medicinal use, the lotus has only been recently studied for medicine in the west. In China lotuses are used to stop diarrhea and regulate the menstrual cycle. It can manage blood sugar and cholesterol, relieve inflammation, clear up skin, regulate the heart beat, and soothe a cough. There is even ongoing research that looks at lotus seeds in the treatment of cancer.

Lotus may also have some psychological benefits. It can help you sleep better and relax the nerves and muscles. It may reduce restlessness, promote calm, and enhance cognition. Perhaps this is why Odysseus’ men were lulled into not wanting to leave the island of the lotus eaters!

Lotus Magic

It seems logical that water is the element associated with the lotus. Lotuses are associated with love, luck, peace, fertility, clarity, purification, meditation, healing, psychic opening, spiritual awakening, and protection.

To bring the energy of lotus into your life, you can purchase lotus petal tea, Bach flower essences, or use the flower petals in your bath. A lotus inspired piece of jewelry or artwork will also do. If you are lucky enough to live near wild ones like me, you can sit nearby and share space. If you are patient and ask nicely, I am sure they will share their wonder with you.

The outdoors is calling to meet you. The bold showy plants like the lotus are not the only things with magic and medicine. Let us know what you discover on your next foray outside.

Honeysuckle, Nature’s Perfume

honeysuckle

I walked outside today and smelled Nature’s perfume, honeysuckle. Something so sweet invites you to see if it tastes as good as it smells. When I was a kid, we used to suck the nectar out of the flowers. If it was good enough for bees, hey, it’s good enough for us.

But there is more to honeysuckle than an inviting, calming aroma and sweet tastes. It’s actually medicinal! Yes, the flowers, stems, and leaves have a variety of benefits. Honeysuckle has anti inflammatory properties. It can be used as an antiviral and antioxidant immune booster. Some use it for stomach issues, headache, arthritis pain, urinary issues as well as respiratory issues. So, it’s as useful as it is fragrant.

Honeysuckle also has magical properties. Like with other herbs or crystals, experiment to see what energies and benefits you can discover. Most say that honeysuckle is good for attracting money and offering protection from evil spirits or witches. For this reason, some cultures planted honeysuckle by their front doors.

Honeysuckle can also be used in rituals to enhance fidelity and affection. The twists and turns of the vines symbolize the entwining of lovers. So heady is its fragrance and energy that in Victorian times, young women were forbidden from receiving it as it was thought to inspire dreams that no respectable young woman ought to have!

There are many stories and myths about honeysuckle as it grows around the world. It’s easy to understand why most of them are romantic in nature. One such story is the Greek tale of Daphnis and Chloe. Both were (separately) abandoned by their parents as children. They were found and fostered by shepherds on the island of Lesbos. They met and fell in love, but because of the distance, they could only see each other while the honeysuckle blossomed. Daphnis appealed to Eros (god of love) to extend the flowering season for honeysuckle so that he could spend more time with Chloe. This Eros did. And this is why honeysuckle blossoms as long as it is warm.

If this sparks your curiosity about the natural world, explore some more! Spring is bringing us many lovely things. I am in constant delight as I walk around and see many old friends who are returning to life. If you want to get to know Honeysuckle, here is a meditation you can try.

Pick a honeysuckle plant that appears friendly to you. Ask for permission to take a stem with flowers. Sit beneath the plant and hold the flowers to your nose. Inhale the fragrance. Allow your mind to go blank and open your senses to what Honeysuckle has to tell you. Perhaps you will get a story made of pictures. Maybe you will hear music. Or you could get a sense of something. Trust your impressions. This can help you to deepen your knowledge of the medicinal and magical properties as well as how this plant works within the web of life.

Note: Some varieties contain glycocides which are mildly toxic and should not be ingested. They are: Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), morrow honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), European mound (Lonicera xylosteum).