This Friday, December 21, marks the winter solstice, aka the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year. Clocking in at only nine hours and 15 minutes of daylight on the East Coast, Friday will be spent mostly in darkness — can you blame us for paying extra-close attention to the moon?
This year, the solstice arrives one day before the full moon, so the moon on Friday will technically still be a waxing gibbous. Spiritually speaking, this lunar phase is associated with growth, development, and progress. The waxing gibbous moon is the final stage before the full moon and its energy matches that anticipation you feel just before finishing a major project or meeting a long-term goal. In other words, this phase holds a lot of promise for us, energizing us to keep moving while reminding us of all we've done so far to reap the fruits of our labor.
The fact that the waxing gibbous and its corresponding influences coincides with the winter solstice is truly the happiest coincidence.
If you've never observed the winter solstice, this day has deep roots in nature-based faiths, such as Wicca and Paganism, where it's also referred to as Yule. Traditionally, it was a day to spend with friends and family, eating, drinking, swapping gifts, and generally celebrating the fact that you reached the end of another turn around the Wheel of the Year. While this still a completely appropriate (and, might we say, fun) way to honor the solstice, your observances can take a more introspective bent if you'd prefer.
Solstice reflections have quite a bit in common with those you'd practice during the waxing gibbous moon, but their key similarity is the theme of growth. As we mentioned, the winter solstice essentially signals the end of the year, making it a natural time to look back and see how far you've come in the last 12 months. But, not only should you celebrate how much you've changed and developed in that time, but you should then look ahead and see where you ought to go in the year to come.
With that in mind, the particular phase in the lunar cycle and the particular moment in the year that will align this Friday are sending you the same message: Pause and celebrate your personal progress. Then set your sights on your next goal.