Happy Solstice! The snow is already hip deep in the woods around my house, but today is technically the first day of winter. Last night was the longest night of the year, and now the hours of light will increase every day. It’s a good time to celebrate!

It’s also a good time to turn to ritual. I mark Solstice every year with several rituals. One of them is “burning my gloomies.” I write down phrases that express feelings or situations I’d like to shift in my life. I put the words in an envelope or wrap them in a package, and then burn it all in a bonfire. This transformation by flame creates the opportunity to let go something of something old and no longer useful, to welcome in something new and inspiring, or to start over.

With this year’s gloomie-burning, I noticed that the list of things I wanted to release all had to do with my attempts at control. Control of my environment, my behavior, others’ behavior, outcomes that aren’t my responsibility. I also noticed that the list of things I want to welcome all had to do with freedom, ease, and creativity. The ritual inspired me to look at letting go of Points and move into Zone. This will be a good reference for me as I choose my priorities in the coming year.

In general, personal rituals are a great way to step back and take time for reflection. I find it helpful to start by considering a question, without any expectations of what the answer might be. Then I just let spirit guide me toward an activity––I follow my intuitive flow to an unknown outcome. Over the years I’ve ended up burning things, burying things, tucking bundles into trees, and creating degradable art with forest findings. I’ve also used zen tarot, animal medicine cards, or spontaneous collage-making. Sometimes what I uncover is difficult, sometimes it’s fun. It’s always educational and inspiring.

Here comes the New Year. Instead of making resolutions, consider creating your own personal ritual. Go deeper. Uncover personal truths to inspire and guide you on your journey.