s🌞lstice seas🌞n

Frozen bubble text reads "Solstice Season"

Tomorrow is a precious day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere: tomorrow we mark the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year that, if you’re tuning in from mid-Missouri, will give us roughly 9 hours and 26 minutes of sunlight. Maybe it’s my Leo Sun 🦁 and Capricorn Rising 🐐 tendencies that have made the Winter Solstice into one of my favorite days of the year, one that I anticipate and celebrate with both the majestic calm of a vulture sunning its wings and the mischievous relish of a (non-murderous, just mischievous) Gremlin fed after midnight.

A gip/moving image of hundreds of gremlins wreaking havoc in a movie theater while one wearing a feathered hat and red sunglasses swings into the front of the theater on a rope before falling from the ceiling.

Personal preference aside, though, I recognize that this time of year can be tricky and emotionally fraught, especially for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the pointedly acronymed, SAD. I love the winter for its early dusk and long nights, which the little goblin inside my brain takes to be a directive to cozy up and rest with my beloved pack, but the absence of light is not to be taken lightly — though the gremlin part of me couldn’t quite resist that pun. 👹

As I reflect on why I am so drawn to the Winter Solstice, so drawn to the absence of the sun, of light — which, in tandem with water and soil, ultimately engenders all life on this planet — I keep circling back to a sense of gratitude for balance, for the ebb and flow of energy, the -ing movement that is life, is being, here, alive, shimmering. ✨

Basically, we can’t have everything or even just one thing — whether that be light or heat or water or emotion or anything — we want/need at full throttle, full volume, high intensity ALL the time. Too much sugar, you’ll feel nauseated/spoiled. Too much water, you’ll flood. Too much sun, you get burned. The Winter Solstice reminds me that we need each part of the cycle, the receding of growth to prepare and care for its abundance. And it reminds me that what nurtures us can and should come as much from within us as from outside. With only 9 hours and 26 minutes of sun tomorrow, what are ways that we can all create, sustain, and uncover our own light? 🌟

I’ve got some ideas featuring some handy, dandy library resources below, but as my mother has always encouraged me, you have to make your traditions your own. So riff wildly, calmly, conscientiously, calling upon whatever balance you need most to make your way through the resettling dark. 🕯️🌚

if you like to listen

Try some of the following albums/songs:

  1. A Very Lonely Solstice by Fleet Foxes  //
    my fav: “Helpless Blues”
    + the recorded livestream from December 21st, 2020 is available to watch on YouTube
  2. My Soft Machine by Arlo Parks //
    my fav: “Blades”
  3. “Do You See the Light Around Me?” by Uwade //
  4. Rolling Golden Holy by Bonny Light Horsemen //
    my fav: “Summer Dream”
  5. Alpha Zulu by Phoenix //
    my fav: “Artefact” — but “Winter Solstice” is an obvious winner

if you like to watch

  1. English Heritage, the organization in charge of managing historical and cultural sites across the British Isles, livestreams the sunrise over Stonehenge during the solstices every year. This year, their livestream will begin in the small hours of Friday, December 22nd, as the solstice’s astronomical start point is at 9:27 p.m. central time or 3:27 a.m. coordinated universal time. Watch along at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a66kvYnGc_c
  2. As the title of Nicola Yoon‘s YA romance “The Sun is Also A Star” reminds us, the sun is one part of our universe’s grand circle-cycle of a story. Learn more about the mystical origins of our solar system and those who have dedicated their lives, minds and culture to astronomical discovery from this brand new documentary by PBS’s stellar science program NOVA: “Star Chasers of Senegal”. And find more NOVA installments in DBRL’s collection here.

if you like to eat/drink

  1. Head on over to Uprise Bakery/Ragtag Cinema and try one of their Sunny Oatmeal cookies, which are, in a word, celestial. 🌠 Or make your own following this trusted recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but be sure to add in a handful of hulled sunflower seeds and a splash of orange juice or citrus zest to get that 🔆bright + sunny🔆 flavor.
  2. Add turmeric, a golden, anti-inflammatory spice to your morning coffee, tea, latte, milk, &/or juice, for a warm, welcoming glow.

if you like to make

  1. Take a selfie of yourself &/or your beloved pack, to record where and how you are on this shortest day. Set a calendar reminder (or subscribe & sync up to this astronomical calendar) to take another one in a week’s time, or in a month’s time, or in a year’s time, or at the Spring Equinox on March 19th, 2024, or at the Summer Solstice on June 21st, 2024, or at the Autumn Equinox on September 23rd, 2024, and onward, and compare/contrast your energies. Where are you now? Where are you going? Where have you been? How will you reconcile these points on your journey — or not?

Here are some of my own solstice selfies/records for inspiration:

A photo of Jane Hissey’s children’s book, “Old Bear,” and a plate of Smiles smiley-face-shaped tater tots, both nostalgic items from my childhood, on the Winter Solstice 2021.


A photo of my dog/goblin-child Gemma Ray at Stephens Lake Park during the sunrise on the Summer Solstice 2022.


A photo of my dog/goblin-child Gemma Ray in the woods of the Grindstone Nature Area on the Winter Solstice 2022.


A photo of myself on the Summer Solstice 2023, with gold and rust-colored suns painted on my face with eye makeup.