• Wild Bear Shamanism

A Winter Solstice Ceremony for you

Take a moment to ponder:

What are you ready to let go of this Winter Solstice?

And then:

What do you want to bring in to help you grow from now on?

Why not deepen your answers to these questions, with input from your Spirit helpers, with this suggestion of how to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Here's the story of how mine unfolded. Please take from it what works for you - copy exactly or be inspired to create your own!

Earlier this week I enjoyed being with other #animistic types in a spirit-given ceremony. It was rich with spirit and nature connection, despite its urban setting. There were drums, rattles, shamanic journeys, art and (of course!) feasting.

The Winter Solstice is the time when the Moon is her* highest in the Northern hemisphere, in our skies for around 13 hours a day. We are often more familiar with the Sun being at its lowest. Aware of the darkness taking up much of our night and day. Moon power is strong, and the Spirit of the Moon was a strong part of the guidance for this ceremony.

(*The Spirit of the Moon most commonly appears to me as a female spirit. Spirit 'gender' is a whole other topic of conversation in itself!).

For me, ceremony works best when we incorporate our hearts and spirits. It can be a marking of something, a rite of passage, a ritual with an intent to receive power and healing for those involved. Good ceremony creates a strong container for magic - where extraordinary things happen in ordinary reality - to take place.

My spirit teacher also influenced how I could make my ceremonies deeper. He said to hold it from my heart, and to use the practice of Council (speaking and listening from the heart) when sharing and speaking with others in the group. As with all shamanic work, it is this heartfelt intent that makes sure a ceremony is full and rich, not empty or hollow.

As usual, I started my ceremony by calling in our spirit helpers. I generally 'rattle' the circle together for this. We shared, in Council, what the Solstice means for each of us. We sat around an altar with a candle in the centre, using a talking piece and clear Council guidelines.

We did two shamanic drum #journeys (if you have yet to learn how to go about these then take a look introductory courses or shamanic one to one sessions).

The first was to take a shamanic journey to ask our spirit teacher "What am I to let go of at this Turning of the Year"? After the journey, when clear about our answers, we drew them on a sheet of paper. My spirits made it clear: it is important to focus on putting the energy of our spirit helper's answer in the drawing. And, if being asked to 'draw' overwhelms then try 'mark-making' instead! It's the intention not the result that matters. You can see mine - all about speaking my truth and letting go of anything that is not true for my heart.

The second journey was to ask our spirit teacher "What am I ready to bring into my life that will help me grown in my life?" Our task with this answer was to draw it on a second sheet of paper as a plant. This took a little mental gymnastics to work out, but once we started we all came up with a variety of different plants as different as a waltz around the Eden project domes and a rural Cornwall! Mine is shown below, to bring in more focus on the cycles of the Sun, Moon and Cycles of Nature.

In our circle, the deep connection with our spirits in our journeys brought out tears and laughter. Open hearts and open feelings, with loving witnesses bring us to even deeper truths. Some were surprised to find the drawing (mark-making) magically allowed the journey to unfold more deeply.

Once done, we turned our attention to the fire. This took a little longer to light than expected, as you can see it was small as the logs were too wet after all this heavy rain! Even the kindling was damp, despite drying it indoors for a couple of days. Yet the resulting timing of the ceremony turned out to be a rather #magical aspect of our time together.

Once the fire was lit, we opened this part of the ceremony by singing my Moon Song that the Spirit of the Moon shared with me many years ago. We were aware of the moon setting in the West, asking her to take what we are ready to let go of with her as she sets.

One by one we placed our first drawings into the fire, asking the fire (and fire of the sun) as well as the Moon, to help. Precisely as the Moon set, at 1.10pm, the last bit of paper finished burning. Without the difficultly lighting the fire this 'coincidence' would not have happened. So maybe the sticks could have dried quicker in my house, or maybe there was a reason I didn't manage to collect them any earlier.

To finish, we were to imagine what our 'plants' needed to grow, metaphorically. Whatever our spirits had told us we were ready to bring into our lives, we were to think of what that would need to help nourish and empower it over the next few weeks and months. Our drawings are perfect for placing on a wall, fridge or mirror as a little 'takeaway' reminder of our intention and commune with spirit, nature and each other.

Then, of course, nearly all ceremonies are best celebrated with a feast! So after a thank you song, taught to me by Jonathan Horwitz (and now sung all over the world), we went inside for seasonal homegrown soup.

Oh, and did I mention chocolate? I'm pretty sure all ceremonies are best rounded off by a square or 3 of chocolate. Thank you, Helen, for bringing such a wonderful Eco Bar made by who else, but 'Open Heart Chocolate' - a Cotswold-based ecologically friendly and ethical vegan chocolate company (a little shout out for their salted caramel and date bar)!

My spirits asked me to share this ceremony as my small act of 'Giveaway'. Through giveaway we are all made richer through what we share and give from our hearts. I thank my spirits deeply for their help, always, and wish that this may inspire you in some small way.

It may be the Solstice already, but you can use this ceremony any time in this 'darker' season, with good intention. And, if you are inspired by any of this work, please share your experiences - I would love to hear about them.

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