Recently, somewhere in the stack on my bedside table of books that remind me of my people’s old traditions (which, admittedly, I read before sleep and all become enmeshed together in my mind), regarding the midwinter solstice, I read something like:
This is a day to stay home, to not do anything, unless you are a Sorcerer, in which case it is a good day to get a lot of magic done.
Besides that this concept made me laugh, it also struck with real truth. The reason for this being that this moment of the season, this pause in the ever-moving cycles of wax and wane, is a time with great potential, which can also make the moment unwieldy. And if we don’t know precisely what we’re doing, this moment could bring us great burden or great blessing through transformation, depending on what we’re willing and ready to meet this day with.
This time holds a lot of potential, a lot of power. On these days, both the midsummer and midwinter solstices, the forces of spirit can more greatly impact our incarnate side of things. More drastic changes can be made. Same with the equinoxes, and the points between equinoxes, in varying ways. They are times when the relationship between our world of form and the underlying worlds of spirit becomes more emboldened.
So I invite you to sit with this very heart of the question for this solstice in particular:
Do you need to stay home and do nothing?
Or do you need to summon your Sorcerer self and get some big healing done?
Despite the understandable urge to place different values on these two approaches to the seasonal moment, I actually think they’re both needed at different times.
When the world is so run-over with suffering, daily screaming of the imbalances that seem to rise farther and farther past what we can imagine—like, Yemeni children dying of forced lack, or like tribal lands being auctioned, or like any of the other hundreds of stories a day that are enough to overwhelm—at this time, many of us are literally and reasonably hanging on by a thread.
This context is maddening.
And if that’s true, by all means, for as much as you can this season, seriously STAY HOME AND DO NOTHING. Eat what your body needs, watch netflix, take salt baths, have long conversations with old friends. Totally follow that.
Because the forces opened up here are big, and it’s foolish (and not in the beloved, tarot-card-loving way) to absentmindedly try to engage them.
I invite you, if it feels true, to not need to feel spiritual. To follow your spiral to its center, and let it be whatever it is.
But there is the other side of the teaching, too: if you’re a Sorcerer, this is a good day to get a lot of magic done.
If you feel: itchy for resolution, ready to break everything to make a change happen, or like you’re in the last phase of a long cycle of steady effort, then it might be time to really make your ceremony now.
And making ceremony need not be complicated.
Some of the most powerful rituals (that resulted in real, practical change) I’ve ever done involved such expensive and time-consuming technologies as:
+ lighting a candle and asking for help from trustworthy powers
+ speaking to my (well) ancestors through looking into my own eyes in the mirror
+ taking a bath and asking the holy spirit of the water to take away everything that doesn’t feed my health
+ burning things in the fireplace that I’ve asked to carry my burdens back to spirit to be composted into new potential
+ cleaning the floors and perimeters of the house with rosemary tea, not feeling in any special way except saying thank you honestly
+ asking an old tree to remind me what I need to be reminded of, sitting there until I'm nudged to get up
There’s no one way to be a Sorcerer. And if it feels right, you can get big magic done on this day, whether or not you feel like or know how to use complex ritual technologies and intact community and culture.
At times like this, whatever we have on hand can actually get quite a bit accomplished.
Of course, given my work, I find that our beloved and intact human ancestors are some of the most reliable ones to help us make our engagement with spirit effective. But any energies that you know, trust, work with can be good help. This includes ones who you may be very familiar with, but have not treated as holy ones or deities, such as energies of water, or sunlight, or mountains. Any of these that feel accessible, and trustworthy, can be called upon for help.
But today is not the day to work with any wily, unfamiliar-to-you or possibly-sideways-leaning energies for the first time.
Today is the day, with your ceremony, to lean deep into the most reliable, most rooted, most basic of sacred ones. And to work with them with a sincere heart, even if that sincere heart means being honest with them that you’re not feeling special or spiritual today. In my experience of my own life and working with others, spirits respond best to honesty. They can see right through any of our falsities, and many of them don’t like the taste of it.
(A note: if you're feeling like doing magic, and you have some room in your prayers, it's awesome to ask that the general poisonous patterns and structures of white supremacy, colonization, militarism, and patriarchy continue to be taken apart and the energy they've locked up be used for healing and balance, especially for those who are most deeply harmed by their toxins. Every time we pray, we give the spirits a little more invitation to change the things. And, if you're in crisis and need all the prayers for your own life, then do that, for sure.)
This midwinter solstice lasts a few days—think of it as we’re in the very deepest bottom of the cycle right now. These days are when the power is open, should it be the right time for us to do some magic. And these are also the days, should we be too tired, or feeling burnt ourselves, that we may need to just stay home and do nothing.
It may be, also, that you need both of these approaches: that you need to have a powerhouse witchy bath to take away all of your trauma and trouble, and then also watch movies and eat dumplings. I don't judge!
I wish for you clear discernment about what this moment holds for you, and I wish you the circumstances that allow you to act with the most power, with the most succinct wishes, with the greatest kindness for yourself, you, this precious face of all of your magnificent people stretching back to the beginning of time, those whose blood and bones you have, those who are your home.
May you feel your roots and may you act with bright justice. And may you and your loved ones, of course, be kept safe from harm.