Winter is one of my favorite times of the year, it’s a magical time of community and gift giving, of family and friends. There are so many traditions out there and so many things that we do during this time of the year. Some people often ask me, what exactly is it that I do for this time of the year, and the answer is quite a bit actually. Some people ask me because they’re hoping to hear similarities–trying to build bridges– and other times people are asking because they want to know how exactly I incorporate shamanism in secular holidays.
For me, I tend to celebrate the changing of seasons, and many of those changes in seasons correlate very nicely with our secular Canadian holidays. So I wanted to go over how exactly I personally celebrate the Winter season, and more specifically December as it falls strongly with the Winter Solstice and Christmas season in general.
Gift Giving & Card Writing
For friends and family I know well I like the idea of getting sentimental gifts. Gifts that people can actually utilize and appreciate. Within that, I very much enjoy writing cards to each person that is important in my life. This is a season of reaffirming ties to the community.
Prayer Ties on the Tree
Nothing screams the Winter season to me more than a nice tree, whether synthetic or real. For me, I like to invite friends and family to tie little ribbons or pieces of fabric to my tree as prayers and wishes for the New Year ahead. This adds a nice decor and touch to the festive tree and from a shamanic point of view the tree represents the Three Worlds. These prayer ties are then gathered at the end of Winter and then burned releasing the prayers and wishes.
A Night Vigil and the Lighting of Candles
The night of the Winter Solstice I love to stay up all night, this is usually a time of great self reflection and personal healing. I tend to sit in the dark with nothing more than a single candle lit. This single candle acts as a ‘battery’ candle for the remaining of the Solstice season where I like to light twelve candles for the next twelve days welcoming the return of the Light. This is also a time of Transfiguration, transmutation and reflection.
Shamanic Divination and Retrieval of Power
I’m not entirely sure when this started or how it started, but with friends and family of mine who happen to also practice shamanism this is the time of the year where I retrieve power animals for everyone, a helping spirit that will help my community members individually in the year to come. This has an added advantage of helping people receive power and necessary healing at this time, as well as a message for the year to come. It’s become a fun little tradition that I enjoy doing on behalf of my people. At the end of the Year I say thank you to this special power animal for all it has done for me that year and hold a small feast of spirits.
Feast of Spirits
Normally reserved for shamanic practitioners in my Circle, this is a time we honor our helping spirits and all that they’ve given to us this year. This is a time of dancing, singing, drumming, rattling, journeying, healing and so on! Basically it’s a nice get together to celebrate our helping spirits.
Shamanic Journey and Sacred Ceremony
At this time, especially early in the season, I like to journey to the Spirit of the Season to retrieve a ceremony to honor its medicine and its Mysteries.
Fundraisers, Toy Drive, Food Drive and Transfiguration
This is a time where we should look outside ourselves and give as best we can to others. Not just to friends and family, but to the whole world and local communities if we are able. In addition, from a spiritual standpoint, I like to do regular Transfigurations during this time of the year. Sending light and energy to places, lands and people in need.
Welcoming the New Year
Among one of my personal favorite traditions, gathering with friends and family to welcome the new year! Making New Year resolutions and planning for the future ahead is always fun, especially in good company. Also a time to reflect on the year that has passed and the lessons one has learned.
These are just some of the traditions I personally observe during this time, I hope they serve you well and inspire you to create and form your own unique traditions. May your holiday seasons be filled with merriment and happiness with good laughter and good cheer!