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Tips for the Dark Half of the Year

Winter is coming quickly. A lot of people see this time of year as bleak, depressing, or just boring. Here are some tips to stay attuned to nature during these months.

❄️ Go outside. Even if it’s cold, the trees are bare, and the only colors are muted and dull. We often think that summer is the only time to enjoy the outdoors—the only time to hike, meditate outside, etc. In winter, there are no lush green trees or balmy days filled with sunshine and the smell of flowers. While summer is intoxicating, winter is a time to contemplate and reflect. Go outside. Feel the cold. Feel the mud and the dead grass and the chilly wind. Listen to how quiet it is. Understand that the dark half of the year is a time of silence, stillness, and death. It’s natural to have an aversion to these things, but take some time to sit down and just listen. Breathe. Feel the reality of silence and death around you. It’s a sobering experience, but also a very insightful one. If you have any fear of death or quiet, now is the time to go sit with those things as they appear in nature and just meditate with them.

❄️ Eat cozy foods. It’s cold outside—warm up with hearty soups, stews, homemade bread, and root veggies. Warm spices and hot drinks will keep you feeling grounded. This is a wonderful time of year to practice kitchen witchcraft—focus on coziness, family, protection, and rest.

❄️ Study magic! The Dark Half of the year is devoted to self-reflection, rest, and contemplation. Snuggle up indoors with a fluffy blanket and devote some time to studying magic and witchcraft with a hot cup of magically-brewed tea.

❄️ Think spirits are sleeping along with all the greenery? Think again! The Dark Half of the year, in many cultures and spiritual traditions, is considered extremely spiritually active. Deities like Odin, Berchta, Hekate, and spirits such as elves and ghosts are very active this time of year. You can choose to honor them if you want, or practice various spirit-working techniques. If you’re into necromancy or divination, this is a wonderful time of year for those things.

❄️ Be kind to local wildlife by installing things like bird feeders outside your home. We modern humans may have an easy time of it in winter, but animals struggle to survive during these months. Any bit of kindness will be much appreciated.

❄️ Nurture your fire energy. During winter, it’s easy to internalize the cold and take on its characteristics—sluggishness, sleepiness, a foggy-headed feeling. Some crystals that are great for winter include golden rutilated quartz (aka Venus hair), citrine, carnelian, obsidian, and garnet. All of these crystals contain a strong fire element as well as offer grounding qualities, mental clarity, and protection.

❄️ Go out and forage for magical ingredients! Melted snow is extremely purifying and can be incorporated into spells for purification and cleansing. Icicles can serve as temporary wands, especially in spells that require a strong water element. The ash from bonfires (or hearth fires) can be used to make black salt. Fallen branches can be crafted into wands. There may be nothing growing this time of year, but you can get creative and still find magical ingredients in unexpected places. Just be respectful and don’t collect from places where it’s illegal!

This is by no means a comprehensive list—these are just some ways I’ve celebrated the colder months. I hope they’re helpful in any way!