One way that I like to connect with the seasons and cycles of the earth is by tuning into The Wheel of the Year.
The Wheel of the Year can help you tune into natural cycles and helps you internalize these outward changes in nature as reflections of the changes you may experience in your own life. Discover the best crystals for winter solstice and how to create a seasonal Altar for Yule!
So what is the Wheel of the Year?
Separated into 8 main holidays, the Wheel of the Year represents seasonal cycles focusing on the 4 Solar Holidays of the year (also known as the quarter days). This stems from the Anglo-Saxon cultural observations of the solstices and equinoxes, with the addition of the 4 Gaelic, agrarian, seasonal celebrations (the mid-points between the solar holidays known as the lunar cross-quarter days or fire festivals).
Although some of the holidays observed in the Wheel of the Year are quite old, The Wheel of the Year as a whole is fairly modern (being developed in the late 1950s). Though I don’t personally follow the tradition that created the contemporary Wheel of the Year, I find it a helpful way to think about the passage of time and what’s happening at each time of year.
An Introduction to Yule:
Yule, or the Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, is the last of the annual quarter days (the solar festivals), which marks the second of the winter holidays (the mid-point between Samhain and Imbolc).
Yule is traditionally celebrated on the shortest day of the year, determined by when the Earth’s pole is at maximum tilt away from the sun (this date may range from December 20th-23rd each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and between June 20th-22nd in the Southern Hemisphere). From this point forward, the days will begin to grow longer until we reach the time of equal day and night at the Spring Equinox (sometimes called Ostara), followed by the longest day of the year at the Summer Solstice (sometimes called Litha).
*If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll be celebrating the festival of Litha today instead of Yule to keep with the seasonal cycles.
The Winter Solstice is the perfect time for celebrating hope, generosity, rebirth, celebration, introspection, and the return of the Sun! It’s also known as (or is related to) Yule, Midwinter, Yuletide, Saturnalia, Yulefest, and Christmas. In this blog, you’ll learn how to create a seasonal Altar for Yule.
- Tree Agate
- Red Jasper
- Clear Quartz
- Moss Agate
- Evergreen Trees
- Oak Trees
- Herbal Tea
- Bay Leaves
Building a Seasonal Crystal Altar for Yule:
One special way to celebrate the Winter Solstice is through the creation of a seasonal nature altar for Yule. This may even be quite similar to some of the activities you already do to decorate your home for the winter holiday season (but with a special crystal touch!).
One of the best ways to slow down and tap into the present moment is to really connect with the stillness of the winter season.
- What is the weather like today?
- How does this affect the natural world around you?
- How can you embody these lessons in your day to day?
Nature plays a pivotal role in our grounding and centering practices. By closely observing the current season and creating a nature altar that embodies this energy, you can better align your mind, body, and spirit to make sure you’re present in the here and now.
Get started by choosing a crystal from your collection that you feel really connected to for this practice – one that helps you feel in sync with the stillness and pause of the winter season. If you need some help choosing, see the list of Winter Solstice crystals below.
Crystals for Winter Solstice
Cleanse your crystal and yourself. Then, hold your crystal in your hands and take a few deep breaths. Feel the energy of this crystal enter through the palms of your hands and slowly spread throughout your body. Set an intention for your crystal to help you be more aware of the beauty of the current season all winter long.
While keeping your crystal comfortably in your hand (or in your pocket), bundle up and go on a nature walk to collect a few special items for your altar for Yule. It’s really magical to do this in silence while holding the intention to discover the energies you most need to connect with at this time.
Here are some great ideas for your altar, but be open to anything you may find. You never know what you’ll come across! Please only take things you have permission to take, and be mindful of the plants and animals and the environment. Don’t take more than you need and don’t cause any damage to plants or natural areas.
Extra Ideas for your Altar for Yule:
- Holly berries
- Fallen sticks
- Pine cones
- Pine Needles
- Seeds & nuts
- A bowl of water or snow from a natural source
- Seasonal herbs, such as mistletoe or cedar
- Seasonal fruits or vegetables, such as pomegranate, apple, oranges, or winter squash
When you return home, you can start setting up your altar space. Choose a small tabletop, a little corner of your kitchen, the top of your bookshelf, or whatever feels best in your space. Cover the surface with a cloth if you’d like, and then start by placing your crystal in the center. As you place your stone, hold the intention that it anchors in the energies of the Winter Solstice and of all the special things you collected for your altar while you were communing with nature.
Next, arrange the seasonal nature items you found around the crystal. Feel free to add anything else you’d like such as candles, more crystals, and other sacred items you have that will help you stay mindful of the blessings of the season.
You can also pull a few oracle cards, tarot cards, or runes to keep on your altar for Yule throughout the season!
Here are a few ideas of queries for your cards or runes:
- What do I need to let go of as I embrace the winter season?
- What do I need to do to stay mindful of the blessings of the season each day?
- What is a new project I should focus on during Winter Solstice to increase my energy and stay connected to my intuition?
Spend a few moments each day at your altar to remind yourself of the beauty of the winter holidays and of the intention you set with your crystal.
Want to enhance your daily crystal practice for an entire year?
“Your Crystal Clear Year” is a 3 module course full of bonus meditations, classes & guides to help you connect with your crystals daily through meditations, self-care exercises, and more.Go even further with your daily, weekly and monthly crystal practice with this course!
- Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule by Jason Mankey
- Midwinter Folklore: Yule & Winter Solstice by Through the Hag Stone
- Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide by Christian Ratsch & Claudia Muller-Ebeling
- Secrets of the Yuletide Nights: Your Guide to the Mystical Weeks of Midwinter by Jeanne Ruland
- The Mistletoe Moon: Pagan Tradition + Craft to Celebrate the Winter by Sylvia Dresselhaus of Leodrune Witchcraft
- The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year by Linda Raedisch
- The Shortest Day: A Little Book of the Winter Solstice by Karen Cater
- The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Chrismas by John Matthews
- The Zenned Out Guide to Understanding the Wheel of the Year: Your Handbook to Honoring the Eight Seasonal Celebrations by Cassie Uhl
- Yule: A Celebration of Light & Warmth by Dorothy Morrison
- Yule: Papercraft for a Magical Solstice (Coloring Book of Shadows) by Amy Cesari
- Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Winter Solstice (Part of Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials Series)
- Yule Rebirth Ritual: Seasons of Ceremony – Original & Empowering Rituals for the Solitary Practitioner by Yamaya Treehawk
- Yuletide: A Witch’s Journal & Workbook (Winter Solstice Edition) by Moon Magic Soul
- Yuletide Journal: Workbook for the Mystical Weeks of Midwinter by Edith Hagenaar
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