New Year’s Eve has always been a bit of an anti-climax for me. I’ve felt distant from the partying, booze and glamour of that night, for as long as I can remember. Somehow, moving from December 31st to January 1st has never felt all that special, try as I did to embrace it.

More recently I have found my own rhythm to mark the turning of the year. I’ve learned too that I can create my own rituals and ceremonies, without permission or approval from anyone else. These rituals allow me to reflect on my place in the world, to create a vision for how I want my future to look and feel.

Many of the Winter traditions we have grown up with, regardless of faith or creed, are connected in some way with the Winter Solstice.

According to Celtic wisdom, this day marks the rebirth of the sun, after the shortest day. So, while it may be the deepest day of winter, once this day is over and the sun sets, it is also the beginning of the new year. The birth of the new light. As I sit here writing, watching the light fade outside, I feel a spark of excitement grow inside.

Amidst the hubbub, bright lights and parties, today offers a wonderful opportunity to pause. I invite you to sit with loved ones or alone (as I just did) and take some time to celebrate this turning of the light. This ceremony can be as simple or complex as you wish, it is yours. Begin perhaps by turning off all the lights. Have some candles ready, that you can light later in the ceremony.

What can you release from the year that has passed, what no longer serves you?

Sit or stand, wrapped up warm with blankets and cosy layers.

Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply into your lungs, noticing how your belly rises.

Notice how you’re feeling, without putting words or labels on it

Ask yourself, what no longer serves you…what can you let go of, as you move into a new light and a new year…

Open your eyes and on a loose piece of paper write down anything that comes to your mind. Anything that you wish to release and let go.

 Take your time… When you’ve finished writing, rip up the paper or burn it (safely of course!) watching the fire burn away whatever it is you are releasing.

Close your eyes again and notice how your body feels. Ask for whatever it is that you wish to welcome into this new year. Invite in the new light, allow it to bring fresh light and life to you and your loved ones.

Light your candles and read a poem that has meaning for you, or a blessing to mark the end of the ceremony.

I share this blessing with you, from John O’Donohue

May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul
May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful and eternal happening.
May you learn to see your self with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed, peaceful Solstice.