Several years ago I posted a Winter Solstice healing ritual I wrote to help deal with some of the difficult emotions many of us experience during the holidays - depression, grief, dissatisfaction, that kind of thing. I felt it was time to share it again, especially since many of us are having a hard time this year. It's a simple little ceremony but it gets right to the heart of the matter and lets you use the energy of the season to help mend your heart.
Just like with cooking, you'll want to read the "recipe" all the way through before beginning, to make sure you understand all the steps and have all the "ingredients."
What you'll need:
- Small pieces of paper or card you can write on. Old holiday cards, cut into pieces the size of the palm of your hand, are a good choice. I recommend collecting up about a dozen of these.
- A pen, pencil, or other writing instrument in a color and style that remind you of the holidays. I like red and metallic gold ink myself (so festive!) but really, whatever makes you think of signing holiday cards or writing names on the gifts you just wrapped.
- Earth. If you have access to an outdoor area where you can dig in the ground (and the ground isn’t frozen solid or inaccessible because it’s covered with several feet of snow) that’s your best choice. But the dirt in a potted plant will work just fine, as will a container of purchased potting soil. The important thing is that, once you've completed the ritual, the soil needs to remain undisturbed until the holidays are over, preferably until Spring Equinox (watering the potted plant is fine but digging in the soil around it isn't). You'll also need a tool you can use to dig a small hole in the dirt/soil/etc. – a trowel will do but you can probably get away with using a large spoon if the Earth you're using is a potted plant or a container of loose potting soil.
- A time and place where you'll be undisturbed and where/when you feel safe and private. Turn off your phone, shut the door, ask family or roommates to go out for a while, whatever it takes so you can feel comfortable that no one is looking over your shoulder or listening in. If you like, light candles and incense, turn on soft music, or whatever else will help you relax and focus on the task at hand.
Set the pieces of card and the pen/pencil/etc. out in front of you. If you feel a connection with deity, you can call on that Power now, either aloud or silently. Earth goddesses in particular can be very helpful for this ritual. You can also ask your higher self, guides, guardians, and the universe itself to aid you. Take a few deep breaths, relax, and allow your mind to roam over the subject of the winter holidays. Let the feelings, thoughts, and memories come up as they may. Don't judge them; just observe them.
After a few minutes of this, begin to focus on the aspects of the holidays that bring up feelings of sadness, discomfort, anxiety, anger - all the negatives we try to sweep under the rug but that still vibrate as undertones this time of year. As each aspect defines itself in your mind, write it down on a piece of card. Be very specific here. Name names, include dates and locations, and specify the emotion that accompanies each one. Teasing out exactly which sentiments each aspect triggers can be difficult but it's also a healing act just to define and acknowledge how you really feel.
This process can be uncomfortable; after all, we go to a lot of trouble to repress these feelings in order to conform to the seasonal "good time" that's required of us. But I promise, letting these emotions surface won't destroy you. As each one bubbles up, let it flow out through your hands and onto that piece of card. Release it into your writing.
It may take a while for you to define the aspects of the holidays that make you feel bad or they may come tumbling out faster than you can write them down. There's no wrong way to do this. Allow yourself as much time as it takes and also give yourself the freedom to feel whatever you feel. So often, we make ourselves even more miserable by trying to live up to other people’s expectations about our emotions (You shouldn’t feel that way! or Aren’t you over that yet?). While actions can certainly be right or wrong under various circumstances, emotions just ARE. However you feel is however you feel. Give your emotions some room, then legitimate them by writing them down.
Once you've written down your uncomfortable and distressing feelings, look back over the cards. Read each one. Acknowledge that's how you honestly feel. When thoughts pop up telling you to judge your emotions or to blame them on yourself or others, allow these notions to pass on through your mind and dissolve away. This ritual isn't about judgment or blame. It's simply about your feelings and giving yourself the opportunity to heal.
This time of year in the northern hemisphere the Earth is dormant: quiet and peaceful. This is the most grounding season of all, the time when the Earth swallows up discordant energy and dissipates it, gifting us the serenity and calmness to move through our lives from day to day in peace. Let's use that seasonal peacefulness to our advantage.
Now take the cards you've written on and carry them to the Earth you've chosen to use. Place your hand on the soil and feel its steadiness. We are of the Earth. It provides our firm foundation, our grounding. Offer thoughts and words of gratitude to the Earth as you dig a hole just big enough to hold your stack of cards. Put the cards in the hole and cover them up, giving those emotions to the Earth, grounding them. The Earth is powerful enough to take all those feelings and hold them in safe space for you. You're not hiding them, but simply allowing yourself to rest for a bit, allowing the Earth to help you. Now let the feeling of peace settle over you. Thank any deities or Powers you've asked for help and put away your tools.
This ritual won't magically erase all those uncomfortable emotions but it will give you some space, some peaceful room in which you can just be. That, all by itself, is healing. Strong emotions are like live electrical wires, sparking on everything they touch. Electrical circuits have ground wires for a reason. The Earth is our ground wire. Allow it to drain off the excess so you don’t ‘fry’ this holiday season.
If you like, when Spring Equinox comes around, you can dig up those cards and look at them, examine those emotions and responses (without judging them). Or you can just leave them where they are, safe in the Earth's embrace.
I bid you peace.