Monstrous Femme

Witching In a Winter Wonderland

Witching In a Winter Wonderland

The winter season is all good and fun, but putting the “Christ in Christmas” as the “reason for the season” doesn’t necessarily resonate with me. When people think of witches, default mental images go to Halloween (known as Samhain, or the pagan new year), with warty green hags wearing long, pointed hats. However, the witches I know are definitely not green or warty (some of them do wear hats, to be fair, just not pointy ones), and witchcraft goes far beyond Halloween. Once I started embracing my magickal calling and researching witchcraft, I learned it’s a year-round, lifelong thing.

After Samhain, other pagan holidays are celebrated—but the one I tend to focus on is the Winter Solstice/Yule (December 21). It occurs when the sun is the farthest away from the equator and Northern Hemisphere. It generally marks the first day of winter on the pagan calendar and the beginning of days getting longer again. Winter marks the death of autumn and is the precursor to spring. It’s a time of transition and, for me, it’s only natural to turn inward and reflect on my inner shadows while evaluating how I can be a better version of myself moving forward. Much like gardening, the soil of the spirit needs to be dug up and moved so that the dead remnants of what no longer serves me can be discarded. In its place, seeds for growth and change can be planted and, with care and time, they sprout and bloom.

Dealing with demons in the darkness and returning to the light is a beautiful idea. I’ve spent some long winter evenings scribbling away in my journal, confronting things that I needed to break free of. On the Winter Solstice, I take care to exorcise some of the bad energy I’ve accumulated. I burn incense, I journal, I light candles. There are usually tears shed, bubbling up from a variety of emotions. Despair, anger, anxiety, loss, stress—processing feelings of things I’ve held onto over the course of the year (or even longer, sometimes) can be healing but hard.

I’m fortunate enough to have a fireplace in my home, and I will write out, in great detail, the things I want to release before burning them. The warmth from the flames can be so restorative, and like a phoenix, the ashes of what I burn will give birth to something new. After the “bad stuff” is burned away, a break is taken for food and drink (banishing alcohol has been a big thing for me, so in the spirit of sobriety, some hot cocoa or warm apple cider are a lovely comfort). Then it’s time for the rest of the ritual.

A traditional activity that has been done for years (which I’ve adopted) is burning wishes and intentions on a Yule log. The type of wood can vary: each kind has a different connotation/meaning, so I try to burn something in line with my goals. I reflect, with gratitude, on the good that has happened and the blessings I have received. With that mindset of thankfulness and appreciation, I write out (again, specifically—because you would be surprised what the universe will do to manifest your desires when you aren’t specific) my intentions for the future and let them burn with the Yule log.

The rest of the evening tends to be quiet. I might make a vision board to help visualize a path for my goals to follow. I know that, undoubtedly, there will be times of darkness in the future, times where the light seems so far away and I feel like I’m going to be swallowed by shadows— so I take what I can of the warmth and the hope these rituals give me and tuck it aside, knowing that I can call on it to guide me during those hard moments. There are other reasons for the season, and magickal, witchy rituals will always be one for me.