Winter Solstice: Find Your Pre-Solstice Rhythm

winter solstice horoscope

The leaves have fallen, Thanksgiving has passed, and the temps have taken a tumble in the Northern Hemisphere. We’ve even had our first snow. And while the holiday season has officially begun, we are technically still in the last phase of autumn.

(Note: If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, lucky you! You’re in a phase of explosive growth. Your practice will look a little different than it does for us for us at the start of this often challenging cycle.)

With this time of year comes a new opportunity to embrace the darkness. After all, it’s getting dark at 4:30 pm where I live, and will only get darker earlier until the solstice! Thankfully, as a society, we have traditions in place to take our mind off of the darkness (hello, holiday celebrations!). Yet, I believe it’s oh-so important to settle into the darkness, instead of trying to escape it.

This is something I’ve had to learn!

I’ll be honest, I used to feel straight-up scared of this time of year when I was in my teens and early twenties. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and as soon as the branches were bare, I’d start to feel a knot forming in my chest. My anxiety would grow as daylight became more and more scarce. To me, it felt like everything pleasant and light-filled was coming to an end, and I was left with a darkness I didn’t know how to embrace. I couldn’t yet understand how to be with what was. December provided a good distraction, but as soon as January hit, I’d descend into the abyss of depression.

Late autumn, or branch season (as my friend Halle calls it), is a time where light dims and the pleasantries of peak summer weather are long, long, long gone. But while a lot of people tend to push back against this change of energy, this cycle in nature is just as essential to our growth as expansive spring and extroverted summer.  

So, as we move through the last zodiac sign of fall, Sagittarius (a mutable fire sign), I encourage you to take time to be with the darkness, instead of push it away or avoid it. 

Learning how to do this has changed my relationship to the seasons. Honestly, not only have I come to love winter, but it has actually become my most favorite season. This is a far cry to how I use to relate to seasonal change.

The Darkness Asks Us To Go Within

The nights are longer, herding us indoors instead of lounging on the back deck with friends. As always, what’s reflected outside is also reflected within. This longing to curl up with hot tea in our own homes is also asking us to come home within ourselves. Winter is almost here, and each day we get closer to solstice is another opportunity to practice being ok in and with the dark. While the holidays mean enjoying time with those we love, let’s not forget the fact that they act like a velvet hammer.

To fully leverage the power of this season, we need to explore the gifts of our internal landscape, not just rush around buying gifts, while eating and drinking our way through the month.

This is a time of reflection, solitude, and raking through the stress of the year to distill the lessons we’ve learned before we plant new seeds. This way, we can continue to grow into the healthiest version of ourselves instead of continually planting in poisoned soil. Beyond that, it helps us develop our resilience for the long, cold, winter months ahead.

Even more so, just because it’s the holiday season, that doesn’t mean we give up on moving our bodies! True, nature asks us to slow way down this time of year, but too often we take that as permission to go into full-on sloth mode.

Slow Down, But Avoid Sloth Mode

Not only will sloth mode impede your ability to think clearly as you process your experiences over the past year, but it can also make you more susceptible to cold-weather illnesses. Instead, go deep within and listen to your body. What is it asking of you during this season of darkness? Consider moving your workout indoors, checking out a restorative yoga class, or spend a few extra minutes in the sauna. And don’t forget to look at the produce that’s grown locally for clues on how to support your health as the temperatures continue to drop. If they align with your body’s constitution, root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, and beets can be super nourishing this time of year. 

As for me, I’m embracing branch season for all that it has to teach me. I no longer fear this natural descent into winter—I genuinely look forward to it. This year, in particular, I’m craving the time and space to recharge and get clear on what 2019 is asking of me, personally, and as a writer, coach, activist, and astrologer.

Now over to you: What do you do to get clear this time of year? How do you make peace with the darkness? What do you hope to let go of for good, and how do you plan on supporting yourself during this sacred work? What are some of your favorite rituals to get ready for the solstice mind, body, and spirit?

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3 Comments

  • Mariel

    Well, December 8th happens to be my birthday so its double work. I’ve been learning to celebrate the moon phases (I always look forward for your emails) and also the Wheel of the year. Honestly, my holidays begin in October with Halloween coming. And I start December with my birthday! Usually the celebration lasts a week because of my many friends. And that’s when I realize I’m not alone or taken for granted as I sometimes think I am. I do house cleaning and start to think how I’ve grown, where I am and what can I do next year to be happier. I stopped thinking on long term goals because it caused me anxiety and I ended up doing nothing. Now I just think about being happy now and tomorrow.

  • Chelsey Cooper

    Love This!!! I can So relate with having the struggle with the season. I have always been such a lover of summer, of heat and sun, that going into the months ahead can feel daunting. But I am embracing the reflection in these times and for the first time am feeling supporting with the season aligning to where I am in my life.
    I want to get clear on what daily actions and steps I can take to bring me closer to my goals. What things I need to release during my transition of my old life and old way of being to my new life and new way of being. Transitions have always been difficult for me, I tend to like routine and comfort. But I am learning to embrace the change, step into my truth, and face the challenges knowing the unknown can be scary but also so beautiful.
    What I have been making a daily habit to cope with the darkness. Is if possible, to sit in front of my window in line with the sun, and bask in the rays for as long as I can.
    What I hope to let go of for good is any person, situation, or past difficulties that are not supporting me in my future goals and intentions. And I plan to support myself in this by reminding myself that life goes in cycles and shedding is a part of making space for what will benefit me most in this moment in my life. Doing releasing rituals is always a good way for me to sort through these things. Checking in at my alter, writing down what I want to release, and burning it, is always a great way for me to prepare for the winter solstice. Thanks so Much for letting me share! Your post are always inspiring and truly speak to what I am needing to understand now.

  • Lisa

    I love this article Jennifer! I often feel I am the only one cheering for winter 🙂
    Making peace with the darkness has become easier as I get older. I learned to sleep in and recharge even though I prefer to get up and do my yoga super early in the morning. Its okay, and I will get to do it later in the day. – maybe just not as vigorous a practice.
    I keep Sundays off social media and the internet – totally “offline” – a huge help.
    I love the time I choose to be with myself in a hot bath or going out for a walk in the cold dressed like a “snow bunny” – you know, dressing up in warm cute clothes so I don’t feel so frumpy !! So much clarity comes from the quiet, centering space.
    This year, I have also been saying I’m not able to do everything that comes our way – a first for me. Telling my sweetie that I just need some time to stay burrowed inside has been really empowering. And he is enjoying just hanging around at home too, saying he feels healthier.
    Thanks again for this post. I love that I am not the only cheerleader for this time of year – LOVE IT!

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