It’s easy to understand why many Winter Solstice Rituals focus on the returning of the light. There’s the obvious correlation to what’s actually happening with the axial tilt of the planet. In many places, where the winter months were long and harsh, the people there, welcomed back the light as a sign that winter would pass and warmer, less perilous days would return.
I’ve been to lots of Winter Solstice rituals that draw on the light returning theme as an allegory to the political climate, or the health of any particular magickal tradition or community, or the course of human endeavors, associating the light with “better days to come”.
One Candle At A Time
I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed sometimes and when I do, it can lead to a sort of paralysis. There are so many aspects of my life that need attention or so many projects that need tending to, and it seems almost impossible to get everything done. The enormity of those tasks is daunting and rather than deal with one item at a time, I look at the totality and think “I can’t possibly complete all of this” and end up frozen, unable to do anything, let alone all the things.
And then I’m reminded of the magick of candles. In an impossibly dark room, one single candle can make all the difference in the world. Oppressive darkness becomes bearable, even a place to foster hope, when the wick of one tiny candle gets lit and throws it’s light into the space.
A Winter Solstice Ritual with Candles
This year, as with many years, our household will gather together and perform this simple candle ritual. You can do this ritual yourself and there are a million ways for you to add to this and make it your own. You can do this alone or with others. Here’s what you’ll need:
- White 4 inch candles (one for each person in the ritual and one for each room of your home)
- Enough candle holders for the candles in each room (little bowls or plates work too, in case you don’t have candle holders)
- Matches (lighters work too, but there’s something about striking a match that adds to the magick)
Steps to the Winter Solstice Candle Ritual
Collect the candles, candle holders and matches. Place them on an altar or a table. Somewhere you can easily access them in the dark.
Now, turn off every light in your home. This includes nightlights, cell phones, computer screens, the clock on your microwave. If certain items can’t be turned off, drape them with fabric or use black electrical tape to block the light. Close curtains, hang fabrics at windows. Remove as much light as possible. Throw yourself fully into the darkness.
Stay there for as long as you can. The longer the better. In fact, right at the point where you think you can’t stay in the darkness for another minute, stay in the darkness for another minute.
Then light one candle. If you’re with other people, after the first candle is lit, wait a few moments. Adjust to the amount of light one candle emits. Contemplate what it’s like to have just this much light. Then have the next person light a candle.
Carefully move about your home, lighting one candle in each room. What is it like to clear away the darkness? What do you notice in the half-light?
As you light each candle, in each room, welcome back the light. Say the words “As I light this candle, I welcome light back into my life”.
One candle. Then another. Then another and another. Before you know it, your whole house is illuminated.
Remain in the soft glow of candle light for as long as you can. And then, remove the tape from the microwave. Turn the light over the oven back on. Bring back as much light as you want to and slowly extinguish the candles.
A Few Variations
Fire safety is a real thing. Perhaps you use LED candles or strings of twinkle lights instead of candles.
I love to leave the electronics and electric lights off overnight and go about the house in candle light. If you choose this option, make sure you extinguish all the candles in the rooms you’re not in or put them in a bowl of water or in the sink. That way if the candle falls over it’s unlikely to catch anything on fire.
I use 4 inch candles because they burn down pretty quickly. Feel free to substitute the small spell candles for longer lasting tapers.
Save any candles that don’t burn all the way down and use them to start your next winter solstice ritual.
In the darkness, speak out loud what you’re afraid or apprehensive about. As you light each candle, name a way you can bring light into the world.
May the light return. May you and yours experience magick in the dark and the light – Happy Solstice