The nights grow longer and we retreat within. Deeper and deeper we move into ourselves. Though I usually welcome the introspection of winter; I often find myself fading more and more as the days go on. In New England the sun begins to set earlier and earlier and it’s not uncommon to hear grumbling and wistful sighs over the lost time in the day. If we are living mindfully then it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of this time to look within. It is also a good time to find balance and align ourselves to the energy of the sun.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health 9% of individuals who live in New England have Seasonal Depression, including myself. Some of the key treatments for seasonal depression include an increased intake of Vitamin D and light therapy. Now, this is not meant to replace actual medical advice. If you feel like you are struggling with depression this season I highly suggest reaching out for professional help. I have found a few ways in which I was able to magically assist with my own seasonal depression however, and I am happy to share those here.
As the Night Grows Longer
The idea of balance is something that I personally hold very sacred within my own practice. Whenever there are imbalances happening in the world around me, I strive to balance them as much as I can in my personal practice. This includes the seasons and the times in which the length of day and night aren’t equal. Typically I do this by calling on the more subdued energies of that time in order to make more of a presence in my life. During the winter months this is typically done by drawing down the sun into my practice.
Most witches are extremely familiar with the idea of Drawing Down the Moon as made popular by Margot Adler. I know very few witches who regularly call down the sun in the same way. Many work with the sun during the summer and early harvest months when it is at its strongest, but I have also found it extremely valuable during the winter months. There are many ways in which this can be done as part of your regular practice:
Ritually Drawing Down the Sun
There are several ways of going about drawing down the sun in ritual. Ultimately it depends on your personal practice. You can make it as simple or elaborate as you like. This is a very short and simple version that I like to do in the morning before I start my day:
- Find a sunny space in which you feel secure. For me this is usually on my porch in the morning as the sun peeks over the buildings surrounding me. Take a moment to allow yourself to simply bask in the sunlight. Pay attention to your breathing and be very mindful of yourself and your surroundings. Just allow yourself to quietly be.
- As you focus on your breathing, raise your arms up toward the sun and ground your feet into the earth. Feel the warm light of the sun trickle down your fingers, down your arms, and through the rest of your body. As the light reaches your feet imagine it spreading down into the ground like roots. Visualize the green earth sprouting at your feet and the energy of the earth rising up through you to blend with the solar energy.
- Imagine the solar and earth energy swirling and building in your heart space until they blend together and spread throughout the rest of your body. Breath deeply and simply allow yourself to hold onto this feeling. Harvest what you need, and then ground any excess energy.
Just because it’s the winter doesn’t mean there isn’t enough sun for sun tea! This may be too cold to do outside in most of the Northern Hemisphere, but I have found a lot of luck with it indoors. Find a particularly sunny space in your house to place your jar. If you have a small apartment (or cats who like to claim these spaces) then this may prove a little more difficult. The following recipe can be made as a sun tea or on its own for a winter pick-me-up.
Here is one of my favorite sun tea recipes for the winter:
- Mix together the following:
- 3 parts Green Tea base of your choosing
- 2 parts Lemon Balm
- 2 parts Nettle Leaf
- 1 part St. John’s Wort
- If you are making an individual cup of tea then place two teaspoons per cup of tea in your cup and add hot water. Let steep for about 5-10 minutes and strain. If you are making sun tea then place three teaspoons per cup of water in a clean airtight jar and let sit in the sun for no more than 6 hours.
- Place any leftover tea in the fridge and consume within the week.
One of my favorite things to do with this tea blend during the winter is make hot toddies. A little bit of lemon juice, honey ginger and gin makes for a perfect cozy winter drink, especially if you’re starting to feel a cold coming on.
*Before consuming any herbs, please familiarize yourself with them. Especially if you are on any medications or pregnant/trying to become pregnant.
Charging Magical Items in the Sun
This one should pretty much be a given, but it’s good to talk about anyway. If you would like a good passive way of harvesting solar energy, then an easy one is to charge items to carry on your being. Take a look at the planetary hours and when the sun is at its strongest in your area. I typically suggest doing this work on Sunday as well.
Some good items to charge and carry with you are:
- Minerals: clear quartz, citrine, carnelian and just about any solar-aligned stone.
- Metal talismans
- Herb-pouches filled with solar-aligned plant matter such as; angelica, bergamot, chamomile, frankincense, juniper, St. John’s wort, sunflower and many more.
Renewing the Work
Regardless of which method you choose, repeat it as often as you see fit. Pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. If you start to feel yourself fading then renew your connection to the sun and center yourself. During the winter months I find journaling especially important as I have a tendency to turn inward. Pay attention to what you are writing and feeling during this time and don’t forget to reach out for help if you need it.