December 21st is Winter Solstice, a moment deeply rooted in Indigenous cultural heritage. For many Indigenous cultures, the winter solstice is not just another day, but a time to acknowledge and honour natural cycles and patterns that guide our lives.
First Nations around the Great Lakes region have long perceived the winter solstice as a time for rest, not only for themselves but for animals and plants, as well. Nature enters a state of rejuvenation, gathering strength to reemerge with new life when spring arrives.
For many Indigenous people, the solstice is also an opportunity to replenish their spirit. It is a period of reflection on personal growth and achievements, while they look inward and prepare for the new year ahead. The lessons learned throughout the year are remembered and shared through storytelling.
In reverence of this natural marvel, here are 4 distinctive approaches for you and your cherished ones to immerse yourselves in the spirit of the solstice. We encourage seeking wisdom from elders and time-honoured teachings to guide you in honouring this celestial occurrence and deepening your spiritual bond during this sacred interval.
1 ~ Pay attention to the movement of the sun.
The sun is revered by indigenous nations and so many other cultures for a reason. It literally gives us life! It's so valuable to observe the natural patterns of the sun and to consider the teachings we have related to the sun. By sitting in deep observation on solstice day, and in fact, on any day, we sharpen our senses and our intuitive relationship to the natural world.
2 ~ Drink medicinal herbal teas.
Our natural world is rich with medicines, for both body, mind and spirit, and our ancestors knew the power of drinking medicinal teas. If possible, prepare and drink teas from your or other Indigenous homelands. Drink tea with loved ones. Pray over your tea, pray to the root and plant nations, to ancestors, and to the water, and know that you are activating medicine on a cellular and even generational level. Try these recommendations for traditional herbal medicinal teas - Raspberry leaf, Peppermint, Burdock, Nettle, and Lemon Balm.
3 ~ Cook and share a comforting and nourishing meal with loved ones.
As Indigenous people of the Earth, kinship is what has always held us together. Sharing space and time to cook, eat, and nourish our bodies and our loved ones bodies through the preparation of healthy meals is both physical, communal and spiritual. Seek out traditional and clean foods to prepare, or cook your favourite recipe from a loved one.
4 ~ Practice self care rituals for self and others.
Care for your physical and spiritual self with a warm shower or bath, with rich lotions, essential oils, etc. Put on a luxurious face mask, if that’s your thing. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure. Get a massage or give a massage. Braid or brush someone else’s hair for them, or ask them to brush or braid your hair. Name your practice, and make time for that.