Winter Solstice and a Breathing Earth

First, I want to say hi to our Southern Hemisphere peeps and recognize you are moving toward your Summer Solstice. :sunny: Feel free to bring something summery to this thread instead!

I’m working on getting my brain around my first Winter Solstice celebration. The other day I was reading a post on @DanaD’s blog about working with trees and the breath of Earth: Druid Tree Workings: A Seasonal Approach and the Breath of the Earth | The Druid's Garden. Learning that Earth has an annual breath cycle that can be seen in CO2 measurements was super interesting. Today, I found this nice post from EarthSky that includes a different visualization for a breathing Earth (as well as a lot of other great info about what makes a solstice scientifically if, like me, you want to brush up on the mechanics of it): All you need to know: 2021’s December solstice | EarthSky.

Prior to joining AODA, I have always identified the solstice as a light phenomenon. Now, I’m sort of starting to think of it as that moment in between an exhale and an inhale - for winter, especially, that deep peace and quiet that can come to a body when all your air is pushed out, but you haven’t yet started the next inhale. I’ve always loved that moment since I was a child (which seems a random thing now from my adult perspective - we were not a household that paid any attention to breathing whatsoever). I love how this perspective helps me to make a connection between the season and the solstice out in the world and my own body.

What perspectives, realizations, or understandings have helped you to deepen your connections to the winter solstice? Or summer solstice?


It is a little too late for me to get into what I have done and do, but I love this topic a lot and tomorrow will reply further. I had not seen those links, so thank you for sharing them and I will give them a good read too before I answer. I just love this forum lol

@amychutchinson Rather than write a new message, I will just edit this one. I connect to the solstices in a few ways. The first is through art. There is already something inherently powerful about creating something. I do it as a ritual. I start with meditation at the solstice, doesn’t matter which one. The energy is very different each time and for each solstice. I am rarely in the same place each time, so I take time to reflect on where I am at during the solstice and where I need to be. The idea for whatever art project I have comes to me usually during this time. I’m not going to lie, sometimes no inspiration comes and that’s why I have a harder time connecting and moving on to other ways. Still, art is a great way because of the intentions behind it, connecting to the energy of the moment, marking and honoring it, and finally, initiating the changes you want to make during that time is powerful.

The next way I make that deeper connection is to remove myself from the digital footprint that is our life and spend the solstice outside. I will do it on the days before and after, but mainly on the recognized day as much as possible. I recognize the shifting patterns of light as shifting patterns of emotions and action, of energy. This is part of the meditation from the first part, but it’s deeper and partially why it usually inspires me. I realize that the weather and light changes of the solstices are akin to our very own ups and downs. I connect to the energy all around me and accept where I’m at and try to heal myself, as well as the earth, the best that I can. I look at everything, note differences that I didn’t see earlier. I listen to the music of life around me. Depending on the solstice, there are different sights and sounds. I try to be around both day and night outside in nature to hear and see those sounds. The more I notice life around me in nature, the more I see the changes in it. The more changes I see in the life around me, the more I see how my own life has changed and brought into some kind of rhythm with the earth’s energies, somehow balances me and brings that deeper connection that we all need. The amazing thing is, that breathing must be natural for most of us because I try to breathe in the rhythm that I feel from the earth during this meditation.

During the summer solstice, I connect in a more energic and abundant way, such as dancing out in nature. Now, of course, I do not limit my dancing to this one day of the year, but on this day I make an effort and dance to the connection I feel to the earth. I’m married and that has afforded me other opportunities for connecting in a sexual way too. Now, combine energy work, breathing work, and sexual at the same time and the connections, at least for me, are awesome and awe-inspiring.

I also have a bit of time during each solstice for giving back. It doesn’t matter how big or small the giving is, or if it’s giving back to nature, or giving to other people … it’s a connection that I make and give back for all that I have taken in. I am a firm believer in reciprocity and how it helps us connect. There’s a reason why we feel so good when we give. It’s in our DNA I think lol We are hardwired to feel good when we help others. Even those who are greedy and stingy and refuse to help would feel better if they did, but it’s their addiction to money that changes things. Usually, those people are never too happy anyway. I think reciprocity is key in connecting to the earth. I have planted and potted various plants during the solstices. I go through my plants and herbs and take care of them or do herbal work. Like I will trim up my herbs, dry them, grind or sift them, and bottle them. I guess it’s not really connecting to nature, but it is natural and it’s a connection for sure. After I do all of that, then I give bottles away to family and friends, even neighbors and strangers too. I have set stuff outside with a sign that said “Free”. They disappear fast enough. I love that part of my holidays lol

I also love having fires going during the summer and winter solstice. I try, but cannot always do it, to keep the fires burning the whole day. This is the part my hubby loves too. I love fire. I’m not even sure why or how, but it can put me in a trance so easily … like my own guided meditation where the fire guides me. Seriously, I know people get lost in fire sometimes, but it happens so quickly and easily for me. It is so very relaxing, energizing, and there is no aspect of having a fire that I haven’t loved. I love the smell of the burning wood, the popping and cracking of it, the glow of the fire itself, the ash that goes into the garden, the way embers glow late at night and cast shadows over the ceilings, floors, and walls, as well as the heat that radiates from the fire. Yes, during the summer it can be a bit hot, but everything else is just so awesome. I wish I could do fires every single day lol

Lastly, I sun or moon gaze. I look at each thing around me in nature and see its position in nature, its function, and apply it to my own life. Look at a stone and see what you can learn from it and apply that to yourself. Aspects of nature can apply to aspects of our lives. It gives a new appreciation each time to something new you see. Mark the times you see the sun come up and go down. Note the position of the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies at night. Note things in the sky during the day, including clouds or the lack thereof. You can even see the moon at times during the day. Record it all. There’s just so much to observe. Write the tale of your solstice. Each year I try to find something new.


Hi @amychutchinson: Thanks so much for sharing. Like you, I’ve transitioned to thinking about the winter solstice as about light to being about other things (for me I’ve been contemplating energy and movement: eg. a frozen and still landscape vs. a thawed and dynamic one; the magic of the understory during the winter months, etc). I really appreciate your comments about breath and the pause between the inbreath and outbreath–that’s a fantastic realization. I’ll meditate upon it more.


For me the period between Samhuin and the winter solstice is a time for evaluating what I’ve done and learned in the past year. Based on what I learn, I decide on my plans and goals for the following year, sometimes for longer than that if I perceive, as I do now, that I am at the beginning of a multi-year period of work. Then the winter solstice becomes the new year and new beginning, Beith in terms of the Ogham.


I love that you grew up in a household that paid attention to the breath! My son recently attended a cognitive behavioral learning class for kids where they taught him about his breath, and also I saw a few times in Kindergarten where they were teaching little ones about the power of their breath. I thought about what a precious gift this was to give to someone at a young age.

Thanks for the thoughts on breath and the solstice. I too have typically placed light attributes on the time. I like looking at it from this breath perspective instead.


I actually did not grow up in a household that paid any attention to breath, so I think it’s odd that I had that realization as a child. As you say, though, I think that’s changing for the better, especially with those who work with kids. A few years ago at Christmas with the extended family, my cousin had their small boys there - 2,4, and 6. The middle one was having a meltdown (as sometimes happens), and my cousin’s hubs pulled him aside and they ‘smelled the soup’ together for a couple minutes. Kid calmed down and went right back into playing with his cousins. They learned this breathing exercise as a self-regulation strategy when they became foster parents.


Oh dear. My apologies! I’m not sure how I misread your message. Thanks for correcting me.

I too love the “smell the soup” trick, and good on them for fostering! The trick works for sure!!! One day my son was just whirling in kid chaos, and my head was splitting, so we had a “smell lab” where I pulled spices from the kitchen cabinets and laid them out on the table. Very similar in concept, we did a lab to guess the spice by closing our eyes and smelling. It worked like magic, and brought us to a new place for the evening. Sense of smell is very primal and powerful.


In my workings I think of the time between September 21 and December 21 as the Season of the Moon. It is a time when the light of the Sun and the life of the World begin to fade and the symbolism of Moon is strong.
Also this time moves from Libra (Vernal Equinox) to Scorpio to Sagittarius, or from balance to insight to hope.
And finally on December 21, the Winter Solstice, we move into Capricorn, or Ambition, when the time spent under the rejuvenation of the Moon (balance, insight,hope) are the foundations of the ambitions we will realize, or at least try to.

That’s a basic synopsis of how I view the Winter Solstice.


Ooooo, I love the idea of a “smell lab.” :heart_eyes: And no worries on the misreading. It’s easy to miss a “not” when reading quickly!


I like your Season of the Moon. I think I will sit and mull that one some more.