Everyone feels it this time of year – a rising anticipation in the collective, a sense of wonder that reaches its zenith on December 25th.  You don”t have to be religious to feel it.   It”s just a magical time, right?   A time of lights and feasting, of music and gatherings, of heightened spirits.

So just what is this magic that”s rising within us? And how can you use it to illuminate inwardly?

Power of Solstice  Ancient history indicates that the magic people feel at this time of year comes from the solstice. The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a week in late December, focused on the solstice. When Christianity came to Rome, the emperors could not get people to stop celebrating this pagan holiday, so in the third century A.D., they renamed it Christmas and gave their divine son the birthday of December 25th.  The ancient Egyptians also celebrated the solstice, also with a divine child, Horace, also born on December 25th. The Persians’ divine child, Mithras, also born on, you guessed it, December 25th, and the Druid’s divine son Arthan was miraculously born on the 25th.

Winter solstice marks the turning point of the sun’s six month retreat, and we naturally regard this unconquerable sun as our greatest gift.  Civilizations erected temples so that the sun’s rays would touch strategic parts, like a giant divine phallus, on the Winter Solstice. Stonehenge may also have been erected for the solstice.

Hence, whether we call it Christmas or Solstice,  the sacredness of this time of year goes back to our ancient and primal response to the sun. Although our awareness of nature has waned over the centuries, climate change is bringing it back.  You can restore your own connection to our planet, the cosmos, and each other by feeling the power of inner light at this time of year. The ever-darkening days draw you inward, making it ripe for insight and inner illumination.

You can use this energy, first, by becoming aware of it, and then practicing some  of these inner illumination activities:

  • Take time during the next twelve days, to turn within. Light candles. Meditate. Begin focusing on the growth of light within you. Come together with friends who also feel the power of this time of inner illumination.
  • Here’s how we used it at our Thursday Night Tarot gathering: We turned out the lights, lit candles, and meditated on our best possible selves. We imagined the person we”d like to be if all the red lights of our lives turned green.  Then we consulted the Tarot, asking, “What is my path to wholeness?”  “What is my purpose?” “Who is my best possible self?” We tried some of the spreads found here,  (especially spreads 10-20 about personal growth and inner illumination),  and shared our answers with each other.   We also shared homemade treats, drank hot cider, and had a lot of laughs.
  • You too can take advantage of the magical energy of the winter holidays to launch a vision of your new self. Use the darkening days to turn inward and create a vision of your best new self. Write it down with as much detail as possible. Try some of the Tarot spreads for reading yourself found here  (especially Spreads 10 through 20) You can look the answers up in a book or on-line if you don’t know how to read the cards.  Then after the twenty-fifth of December, use the daily expanding light to see your own inner light becoming stronger.
  • Research by psychologist Sonia Lyumirosky  shows that repeatedly writing about your best possible self changes your brain to make you more likely to see and take advantage of opportunities leading to your dream. Other research shows that your beliefs in the power of rituals enhances their effect.
  • But the most powerful impact of all comes from your awareness–  that magic is in the collective at this time of year, and that you are using it to illuminate yourself.