Time can be understood through natural and celestial phenomena. It is marked by changes in precipitation, lifecycles and animal movements. You can sense time’s cycle on a routine traverse through the woods. Breathe in deeply; the scent of decaying berries and leaves unmistakably mark time’s shift in the breeze. Tune your ears to the birds above as they take wing in response to the chilled air. Notice how the new white blanket of snow, crunching beneath your leather soles, quickly fades into glistening flecks on the shadowy trail as daylight fades. As Mother Earth settles in for a period of rest, our relationship with her and all of the life she sustains appears in full focus, lit by the growing moon. Here, in Mi’kma’ki (traditional Mi’kmaq territory), it is the time of the thirteenth moon, Kesikewiku’s (Winter Moon), Kjiku’s (Great Moon), which marks the embrace of night. Today is the Winter Solstice when time begins its shift towards the light.

A snowy scene with grey skies and tree branches sticking out from the snow in the foreground.

Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year as the sun swiftly arcs across the sky before inviting darkness. Solstice reminds us of the cycles that guide our relationship with the natural world and invites us to reflect on our place within it. On this day, the passage of time is visual, nearly palpable. It marks the shift into light that will cultivate new life and growth. In the spirit of darkness, and in the anticipation of the growing daylight ahead, Winter Solstice offers an opportunity to look inwards. Here are five ways to recognize Winter Solstice.

Take time

Take time to be present in this day. Disrupt your daily routine, and the stress it may carry, to make uninterrupted time and space for your wellbeing. Take a stroll in the woods, spend quality time with your family, engage in a favorite pastime or simply embrace the silence.

Reflect on the past

Reflect on the past year and the events that have marked your path to this very day. Allow yourself to remember and to engage with the emotions you have felt. Acknowledge your strength, your growth, and your many blessings. Let go of the things that have failed to nurture your inner light.

Set intentions for the future

Envision the coming year and your best wishes in any aspect of your life. Consciously set your intentions for the longer days ahead.

Express gratitude

Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. It can be expressed to family and friends through conversations or cards. Gratitude can be expressed to the natural world through close attention and care. It can also be expressed to the spirit world through offerings and ceremony. During this time of reflection, think about who and what you are grateful for and how to best express your gratitude.

Light a fire

Fire warms the body, calms the mind and serves as a reminder of the inner light within each of us. The fire can also help us release aspects of our past and move more freely into our future. Write down the things you would like to release and offer them to the fire. Embrace the warmth of the flame in this moment and the brighter days ahead.