Winter Solstice is upon us, and I have to admit…I do not like winter!
I love Winter Solstice though! It is a magical time of year. It is a time of renewal, rebirth, and joy; a time to reflect on the past. Remember those who have come before, and those we are blessed with now. It is also the time when the fermentation process would be complete, and alcohol would be ready to drink!
I’m not a big drinker – I do like a glass of wine once in a while but, I never seem to finish the whole bottle. Not without help anyway. A good glass of honey mead is never wasted on me, but again…a glass is my limit. Call me old and boring if you want. The “falling down drunk” never appealed to me. I do enough falling down without the help of alcohol.
The Winter Solstice is “The Holiday’s” for everyone else. That means baking and wrapping packages and shopping and snow and garland and glitter and glitz and…. exhaustion! It also means eating too much, and drinking too much. Do you see a bit of a recurring theme here?
So…what does a Witch do for the The Holidays? This Witch gets crafty!
This time of year I pull out the Blessing/ Banishing tree. I know I’ve posted about this before but we can never count our blessings enough. But, you can’t have the light without the dark. For each blessing we receive we must surrender something. So, why not something we want to get rid of?
The Blessing/ Banishing tree works like this – you’ll need:
1 Tree – Tree size depends on the number of people participating. If you purchase a living tree, you can save it until the season is over, dry it out, and you have your Yule log for next year.
10-20 Red Ribbons/ Bows Per Person (or color of your choice)
10-20 White Ribbons/ Bows Per Person (or color of your choice)
Drink – Alcoholic or Non-Alcoholic.
I usually combine the Blessing/Banishing Tree with the Triskelian Rite of Tea. Since I’m doing this one for the Winter Solstice Mint Hot Chocolate is my go to drink – the benefits of mint, especially this time of year, helps with the headaches, indigestion, gas, heartburn, and sleeping. If you prefer tea, a nice chamomile mint tea would be perfect! Chamomile reduces the stress hormone, as well as having aromatic benefits.
Back to the Blessing/ Banishing tree! Once everyone has their tea, or hot chocolate, elect someone to go first. Each person will add one red bow, and one white bow, to the tree during their turn. You’ll have to designate which color bow is for banishing and which is for blessing. Personally I use white for blessing and red for banishing.
When putting the bow on the tree each person will say what blessing they’d like to bring into their lives, and what they’d like to banish from it. For example: I’d place a blessing bow on the tree to bring family closer. I’d put a banishing bow on the tree to rid myself of excess weight (everything I gained from Thanksgiving!).
You might think coming up with 10-20 blessings and banishings is hard. Once you start though, you’ll wish you had more bows! Don’t hesitate to use your blessings and banishings for someone else. Remember, what you send out comes back to you! I have family that struggles this time of year. We’ve had so many family members pass around the holidays. It does tinge the holiday with a bit of angst, and fear. The Blessing/ Banishing tree allows me to remember all the great people I have in my life, and to send them Blessings while Banishing some of their troubles.
The recipe for my Mint Hot Chocolate is:
2 cups milk
2 cups half and half
6 sprigs fresh mint
10 oz milk chocolate chips
I usually double, or triple the batch and throw all of the ingredients in the crock pot. Since it is winter, fresh mint sprigs may not be easy to find. You can substitute a crushed candy cane or two. If you prefer your hot chocolate luxurious and rich, reduce the milk to 1 ½ cups and add a half a cup of sweetened condensed milk.
If you’re like me, and do not have a fire place, you might find it a little hard to do the traditional Yule log rituals. Over the years I’ve replaced the burning of the Yule log with the gathering of the pine branches. Everyone receives their own pine branch, and single green candle.
Pine signifies prosperity and growth. Add a green candle which stands for abundance, growth, money, success, health and healing. Toss in a little craftiness – a sprig of mistletoe, a little ribbon, a couple of crystals, and whatever else you’d like to use to decorate…and the next thing you know, you have the perfect centerpiece, or table marker, or bookshelf décor.
Once you have the above crafted. You can use it for one of two little rituals. The first one, everyone lights their candle, makes a wish, then lets the candle burn out. The second one, everyone lights their candle, sits back and remembers the past year. After a bit of inward reflection, everyone uses their candle to light a larger, central candle. The central candle represents togetherness, the coming year, and new beginnings. Once the central candle is lit, you can either put out your individual candles, or…make a wish and let the candle burn out.
However you choose to celebrate this wondrous season be sure of three things – Dance, sing, and celebrate! Every one of you will be in my thoughts, and part of my Blessings/ Banishing tree. May Isis, Mithras, Rhea, Hera, Lucina, Lucia, Frigga, and Freya show you the beauty of the season and bless you many times over.
Blessed Be My Friends!