Today the Winter Solstice falls upon the Northern Hemisphere marking the first day of winter. It started the moment this part of the Earth pointed at the sun from the farthest distance it will be all year. The winter solstice is considered a turning point in the year by many cultures as this is the real solar event of the New Year. The sacred day is also called Yule to Pagans celebrating the birth of the new solar year inspiring many timeless tradition where people have celebrated the yielding of dark to light, when the sun is reborn and the days begin to slowly grow longer.
This is the perfect time to go within and take an inventory in our lives, to celebrate our accomplishments and see where we can grow more. Its a time to look to our traditions and values to orient ourselves in the new year and continue to craft lives of beauty and meaning. One fascinating tradition I look to comes from the Sami shamans that come from the area known today as Northern Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Siberia in the arctic circle. This is a little known history that, like most pagan holidays, have been adapted to fit our gregorian calendar and Christian culture. I find it so cool and thought provoking to discover the parallels in Christmas iconography.
According to folklore these arctic shamans would collect a sacred hallucinatory mushroom, the iconic red and white amanita muscaria, from underneath pine trees where they almost exclusively grow and string them to dry and absorb sunlight on its boughs. Once they sufficiently fill a tree they would often deliver them down villager’s chimneys in this time of long night while snow was piled high outside their doors and windows. These shamans dressed in garb similar to what we see in Santa Clause, except they traditionally wore blue. People would hang these mushrooms to continue drying in stockings above their fireplaces and then ingest them while playing a ceremonial drum made out of reindeer hide to induce trance states. Looking at it practically, this was a time when there wasn’t’ much else to do other than stay inside and ponder one’s life and the coming seasons and to Pagans who worshiped the natural environment, it was a tradition central to their culture and values.
While it may come from a pretty far out history, I think its no great coincidence that we have come to know the Christmas holiday to be synonymous with red and white presents and that these psychedelic altered states can give us a profound experience of the present moment, which may be the ultimate gift we can give ourselves. Much greater detail and other cool parallels can be found for stories like this in such books as Mushrooms and Mankind.
I look to these traditions, one because they are super interesting, but also to see what I can adapt into my own life to honor my ancestors and stay grounded in ancient time-tested wisdom. Weather you have a fungi hookup or not this is still an auspicious time that correlated to actual astrological events and I believe we can use this momentum for some valuable meditations in our own lives. And it doesn’t need to be some far out psychedelic experience but perhaps a tradition that comes with a bit more meaning and gifts that last longer than the batteries in our toys.
Don’t wait until January first to plan what you want to create!
Write down what you want to manifest, map out your gardens for the spring, schedule those trips; you have full permission to start fulfilling your dreams today.
Here’s our 3 step winter solstice ritual to manifest magic in 2018:
1. List your accomplishments in 2017 and the 3 most important lessons you learned.
Celebrate them and carry these successes with you into the next chapter!
2. Clearly map out what you want to improve and manifest in the next year.
Think big! What daily rituals can you adopt to help you improve your mind, body and soul? Where do you dream of being in your life or career this time next year? What magic do you want to create?
3. Do one thing today that brings you closer to your goal.
Even the tiniest action can sow the seeds for the biggest dreams.
Written by Co-Founder Jake Mabanta