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I’m sure your top concern as we approach the upcoming winter solstice may be just how many more minutes of sun you’re going to get during your commute each day, but the truth is that the event is steeped in history and tradition that goes far beyond our modern taste for convenience and, well, light. With history, of course, comes superstition, so I did a little research and pulled together some details about some winter solstice superstitions, where they come from, what they mean, and how they play into the way we observe the month of December in modern times (if at all).
First, a brief lesson in what the winter solstice actually is: According to the trusty Farmer’s Almanac, it’s the day each year that has the fewest hours of sunlight, thanks to the fact that the sun reaches its southernmost point and begins moving north. The winter solstice is also the first day of the astronomical winter (the meteorological winter kicks off several weeks earlier). Since 2017’s winter solstice will take place on Dec. 21, the days will begin getting longer as of Dec. 22. Did I just make your (very short) day?
Now that we’ve got the basics down, check out these superstitions.
1. Dark Spirits Walk The Earth During The Winter Solstice
Shab-e Yalda — the Iranian festival that celebrates the birth of the ancient sun god who triumphed over darkness — is celebrated on the longest night of the year, aka the winter solstice. To observe the festival, a feast of watermelon, nuts, and pomegranate seeds is consumed… but that’s not all. Because of the light vs. dark symbolism, ancient lore holds that evil spirits wander the earth on this night stronger than ever, according to MentalFloss. There are shades of similar superstitions in Celtic and Germanic folklore too.
2. The 2012 Winter Solstice Should Have Been The End Of The World
Remember the 2012 end of days hysteria? Thankfully, it was nothing more than a superstition — but it was a superstition rooted in Mayan history. The winter solstice of that year (Dec. 21, 2012) corresponded to the date 184.108.40.206.0 on the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar and was the end of a 5126-year cycle. According to the superstition, these numbers were symbolic of the end of the world, or some other catastrophe.
3. The 2012 Winter Solstice Should Have Kicked Off A Worldwide Transformation
The flip side of the “Winter Solstice as the end of days” coin? The New Age belief that the significance of Dec. 21, 2012 was one of rebirth and transformation. Some believed that the Earth and all of its inhabitants would experience some sort of wonderful metamorphosis on that day.
4. The Winter Solstice Honors The Coming Of The Light
If you’ve been counting the minutes until you can leave the office when it’s still light outside, this one should make a lot of sense to you. Given the fact that
IMAGE BY KAT AILEEN
Join in on any 21st-century witchy gathering, and you’ll most likely take part in rituals from all over the world. At the last goddess worship session I attended, we sang in a pastiche of chants and spiritual practices that had wide-ranging origins—Kundalini, Santeria, Japanese Reiki—and at the end of the night they all blended under the muddled banner of “New Age.”
While a lot of modern witchcraft tends to be an amalgamation of practices from varying folk magic traditions, there are some witches who insist on purity. On Tumblr, the earthly world, and beyond, contemporary practitioners of Hoodoo, a folk spirituality with African American roots, are fighting against cultural appropriation of their craft.
Hoodoo, also known as rootwork or conjure, was brought to the Americas by African slaves. Due to its origins, Hoodoo was first a tradition of protection and practicality. “In the era of slavery, questions of security loomed large in African American experience,” writes Yvonne Chireau in Conjure and Christianity in the Nineteenth Century: Religious Elements in African American Magic. “For its part, Conjure spoke directly to the slaves’ perceptions of powerlessness and danger by providing alternative—but largely symbolic—means for addressing suffering. The Conjuring tradition allowed practitioners to defend themselves from harm, to cure their ailments, and to achieve some conceptual measure of control over personal adversity.”
According to the iconic author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who embedded herself in the Hoodoo culture of the South in the 1930s and wrote about its history, the practice itself evolved from a combination of African spirituality and Christian rituals that slaves newly encountered in the Americas. In New Orleans, for example, she writes, rootworkers incorporated altars, holy water, and blessed oils from the Catholic church.
Though Hoodoo itself (not to be confused with Voodoo) stems from an appropriation of sorts, the southern folk magic is still intimately tied to its uniquely African American history. This is particularly apparent in the specific uses for Hoodoo spells, many of which are for security, stemming from the violence and disregard that enslaved blacks endured. Common rituals include carrying “a little bag of garlic and brimstone on the person to safeguard you” and walking backward into your house and then forward to ensure that no one will harm you, Hurston writes in Hoodoo in America. Today, this manifests in reblogging sigils—a painted symbol said to have magical powers—like that which circulated on Tumblr among Hoodoo practitioners to protect the people of Ferguson during the unrest following police violence and the killing of Mike Brown in the
“Malocchio”, “Mal Oje”, “Ayin-hore”, “Drishti”, “Mati”, “The Evil Eye”.
Different languages have different terms to express the same thing: the belief that the eyes can be used to curse another person or affect their life negatively. The belief in the evil eye exists in cultures all over the world and can be found as far back in human history as ancient Sumeria.
WHAT IS THE EVIL EYE?
The evil eye is a form of curse that is cast through a malevolent glare.
It is usually the result of envy, of jealously so strong that its energy consumes the person and is projected outwardly through the eyes, affecting the victim. The results vary, especially considering that the evil eye often affects one thing specifically (what the person who gives the evil eye is envious of) instead of having a general effect: from headaches and vomiting to stomach aches and more serious health symptoms, bad luck, fighting with your significant other, damage of property, injuries etc.
It is usually not done deliberately (although in some cultures/traditions, there are ways people use to train themself in how to use the evil eye to cause harm), but if given by a person who has the natural ability to easily give the evil eye and if this person is particularly envious, the effects can rival a deliberate curse placed upon someone.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission (you pay the same either way, and I get to cover some of the costs of operating this website, so thank you 🙂 )
HOW TO REMOVE THE EVIL EYE
There are many different ways to remove the evil eye curse.
The method I’m going to present here is the one I personally use. In many traditions they believe that for those methods to work, one has to either learn them from a person of the opposite sex (a mother can teach her son for example) or the person has to figure it out on their own by observing how someone else is doing it and without asking any questions.
Personally, I don’t believe there is any loss in effectiveness if one learns the method from a person of the same sex (or from an article on the internet, as is the case here).
However, the way I learnt this method was by observing older women in my extended family when they worked on removing the evil eye, so -since they weren’t allowed to explain how they do it exactly- chances are my method is slightly different than what my mom or aunt uses. This accounts for the many variations one can find for every basic method of evil eye removal, as well as for the different beliefs on how these methods can be used (many people will tell you for example that you cannot remove the mati from yourself; someone else has to do it) as well as in the actual result from the method used (the method I’m going to present for example is used by some people just for diagnostic purposes when they’re trying to find who gave them the evil eye, while
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In our yang-driven world where action and accomplishment reign supreme, it’s easy to neglect our yin-ness, the softer side of us that prefers to be, not do. As women especially, connecting with our feminine energy on a regular basis is vital to our sense of self, hormonal health and overall happiness. Ancient Goddess traditions understood and honored the many gifts of the divine feminine, and reclaiming them now can be just the balance us modern goddesses need.
If you’re ready to reignite your own feminine magic, here are 10 ways to get started:
- Guard your being time
Take back your feminine power by booking in some much needed me time to reconnect with your inner self. Whether it’s morning meditation, an afternoon catnap or watching the sunset, treat this time like any other appointment by not canceling on yourself to do the laundry or more work.
- Be open to receiving
Receptivity is the essence of feminine energy, enabling us to live in the flow instead of frustration. Next time someone offers you a compliment or support, graciously say, Thank you! And don’t be afraid to ask for help from family, friends, kids, peers and professionals. Remember, the more you allow yourself to receive, the more you have to give.
- Surround yourself with beauty
Turn your personal space into a goddess sanctuary by clearing out clutter and adding things that delight your senses and your spirit. Try beautiful plants and fresh flowers, lush fabrics, wind chimes, sea shells, crystals or other gifts from Mama Earth. Adorn your walls with art and pictures that uplift and inspire you. Make every part of your home fit for the goddess that you are.
- Nourish your dreams
Just as we conceive and support babies in our wombs, the Goddess approach to manifesting our desires is to nurture them while they are still ideas and daydreams. As we cultivate quiet time to connect with our inner vision and guidance, we take action from a place of joy and trust. In doing so, we birth our dreams into being in divinely inspired ways and divinely perfect time, just as we do our babies.
- Slow down and relish
Multitasking is not the way of the Goddess, especially when it comes to appreciating life’s simple pleasures. Instead, become fully present and engage all your senses to enjoy daily delights: inhale the scent of your morning coffee and sip it slowly, let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth, stop power walking and savor the sights.
- Love your body
Aphrodite had small breasts, a soft belly and full hips. Her huntress niece goddess Artemis was lanky and lean. Do you think they apologized for their shapes? Heck no. They owned their bodies’ divinity to express their goddess’ gifts, be they love or tenacity. Embrace your own body as a beautiful, sacred vessel for your spirit to experience itself and treat it with the love and reverence it deserves. Try it out with this flow sequence flow sequence based on the goddess Lakshmi, who represents beauty and abundance.
- Live from your heart
We are naturally feeling beings, but life’s busyness can hinder us from hearing the voice of our hearts – the true source of our happiness. Reconnect by placing your hands on your chest and resting your awareness in this sacred space. Here, the mind’s constant activity will surrender to the heart’s calm clarity, leading you to live in greater faith and deeper love.
- Connect with Mother Nature
Instantly connect with Goddess energy by spending time with Mother Earth. Walk barefoot on the grass and lie on the ground. Release all your cares to her for healing and transmutation. Allow her to hold you in her loving embrace and fill you with maternal love. Doing this regularly will help you become a strong and grounded goddess in your own world.
- Honor your boundaries
Forget trying to please everyone and love yourself enough to say no to draining demands. Bless and release toxic relationships and patterns while keeping the lessons and growth. Stand firm in the power of an authentic no. A goddess isn’t a superwoman who does it all, but a happy woman who does only what she wants and values.
- Infuse your life with ritual
Goddess traditions, like those in this practice with Sianna Sherman are rich with ritual, because they bring deeper meaning and sacredness to any act. Invite extra blessings into your daily activities by turning them into mini ceremonies. A great place to start is your existing sadhana (daily spiritual practice), by perhaps creating a meditation altar where you can light a candle, burn incense, play music and offer flowers.
While effort and achievement will always have their place in the world, balancing them with sacred feminine practices will bring us much greater flow and fulfillment. As we learn to be as much as we do, the inner Goddess and God meet in divine union, creating perfect yin-yang harmony within and without. Now that is something worth striving for.
By Gaia Staff