From Samhain until Ostara, the Dark Goddess has her reign as she is commonly also associated with winter and the cold that it brings.
In the modern age, this time of year is focused on festivities, festivals, parties and events to bring cheer and brighten the dark days of winter.
However, for many people, this feels counter-intuitive to what our bodies and minds want during the winter season.
As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, many people experience seasonal effective disorder (also known as SAD), a chemical reaction in the brain caused by the lack of sunlight and a decrease in serotonin levels.
For others, including those with seasonal affective disorder, many feel instinctually a desire to withdraw, slow down, and rest.
We may desire to sleep and eat more, wanting to spend more time indoors. However, the modern world expects us to keep up with our work schedules, our appointments and obligations regardless of the bone shattering cold, black darkness outside or the nor’easter or ice storm pounding at our door.
The Dark Goddess & Winter
The Dark Goddess reigns during the winter months, also known as the waning part of the year. When Yule arrives, the birth of the sun comes again.
In ancient times, people prepared for the long, harsh winter storing their reserves and resting for the long season.
During this time of year, the Dark Goddess calls to us to take a break from everything.
We have put in the hard work of the year, reaped what we have sown during the harvest festivals and now is the time to turn inward and rest.
Between Samhain and Yule can be an ideal time for shadow work, working on anything that you want to heal, resolve or work on during the new calendar year when the sun is reborn at Yule.
The time after Samhain and before Yule is a quiet time of rest, reflect and getting ready for the long haul ahead.
This is also a good time to get to know the winter goddesses that rule at this time. Some are associated with the dark goddess aspect as well.
If it gets cold where you live, you can feel the presence of the winter goddesses in the air and see them in snowfall during the season.
Winter Magick, Spells and Goddesses
Here are a few ways you can bring magick, spells and the goddesses of winter into your magickal or witchcraft practice:
Create a Winter Altar
This can be a decorative or working altar (or both.) Your winter altar can have anything related to the season that has meaning to you:
- nature elements such as pine needles, pine cones, pine bark
- Yule colours (white, red, green, silver, gold)
A special note about using mistletoe and/or poinsettia in your decorations: mistletoe and poinsettia can be poisonous to dogs and cats (and other pets). Take special care to not have them around or in reach of any pets during the holiday season.
If you have a cultural background that celebrates winter holidays, you can add them to your decorative or working altar.
Many religious traditions have the symbolism of light over darkness, so adding candles, lights and decorations specific to your cultural heritage can add tradition and a connection to your ancestors.
Winter Spells & Divination
Spell crafting can be unique to the season by using elements of winter in your spells and magick.
Make the most of the season and bring the outdoors inside to feel connected to the earth and the season:
Plants / Trees
Mistletoe, poinsettia and pine can be used. (Again, extra care with mistletoe and poinsettia.)
For example, pine has magickal properties for money drawing, healing, spiritual cleansing, protection, exorcism, fertility and longevity. Other trees that can be used for magickal purposes are evergreen trees such as spruce, aspen and fir.
If you use a real tree for your holiday season, you can create magickal decorations to hang from your tree for blessings and protection. Bless the water each time or use water charged with the full moon before Yule when filling the water basin at the bottom of the tree.
Get to know the spirit of your Yule tree in your home, and give thanks and appreciation.
When it’s time to take down your tree, give thanks for its company. If you wish, save a small branch of your tree as a keepsake or use in your magick for the next year.
Snow can be used in spells replacing regular water.
Collect clean snow from outside and use it to cleanse your home and sacred space and use instead of regular water. Bless and charge the snow before magickal uses, especially during the full moon before Yule.
Any magickal purpose that you use water in spells can be substituted with snow during the winter season.
Keep a small jar of melted snow on your altar during the season for spell work. The melted snow can be used later all year around for other magickal workings.
Ice can also be used for spells. Collect icicles or small chunks of ice from outside and bring them inside. They can be stored in your freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Ice can be melted to make water for use in magick and spells or added to the altar during a spell.
If you don’t have ice where you are, make ice cubes out of clean spring water and add them to your spell or magickal working.
Have a problem you want to stall until your ready to deal with it?
Write the name of your problem on a small piece of paper, fold and place the paper in a small container of water (melted snow or spring water).
Place the container in your freezer or outside at night (if the temperature will be below freezing all night and all day.)
Keep the paper frozen in the ice until you’re ready to deal with it. Thaw the ice when you are ready to handle and take action.
Pyromancy is divination done through fire gazing. If you have a fireplace, this can be done by lighting a fire and (safely) gazing into the flames.
Allow your eyes to come out of focus and think of a question or area of your life that you need guidance and see what comes to mind; often the visions won’t be seen in the fire itself, but rather clairvoyantly in your mind’s eye.
This can also be done with a candle, although the larger the flame, the better the effect. Remember to be safe with all open flames and safely extinguish when finished.
Burning petitions for spell work can also be effective, which having a fireplace makes it seem more magickal when casting spells by burning.
Combining ice, snow and fire in spell work can be a great way to use the elements of the season in your magickal workings.
Cooking and Baking
Baking is a favourite past time for many during the holiday season. But, if you’re like me and don’t bake from scratch, even the prepackaged Betty Crocker mixes can still be magickal.
Since you’ll still have to mix and blend even the prepackaged cake and cookie mixes, you can add intent and magick while you stir (even if you use a kitchen mixer.)
Add magickal shapes and symbols to your cookies, pies and cakes.
Have family or friends that aren’t into witchy stuff?
Stencil a sigil into the inside of the pie crust before adding the filling or at the bottom of your cake before flipping it over.
Use animal shapes such as deer and stags to add a pagan feel that ties into more traditional symbolism of the season.
Even star shapes for cookies can be magickally charged – use them in your rituals or a treat for guests, family and friends (icing a pentagram on them isn’t necessary if it’ll cause a fuss.)
Add five pointed star decorations to your tree and home or make a pentagram out of cinnamon sticks.
Winter season is an great time for the kitchen witch with lots of cooking and baking. Magickally charge spices and herbs during cooking or baking, stir and prepare meals with intent.
During cold and flu season, healing spells can be done even while just heating up soup. Any meal can be a magickal one.
Meet the Winter Goddesses
There are winter goddesses in different pantheons and cultures to choose from.
If you currently work with a pantheon or tradition, you may decide to work with the winter goddess from a pantheon that you’re familiar with. You may also want to choose a winter goddess from a pantheon from your ancestry or culture.
Before working with a winter goddess (or any deity), it’s best to do research about her and who the goddess is.
Learn more about her history, her culture, her stories and legends and read from several different resources.
Get to know her inside and out. After you’re well read in who the goddess is, you’ll then be able to decide if you want to connect with her and experience who she is for yourself.
Meditate for a Meet and Greet with a Winter Goddess
To meet a winter goddess (or any deity), spend time in meditation.
If you read tarot, reading the cards can also help to meet and learn more about the goddess to open a dialogue. If you’ve read about the goddess and who she is, you will have a better sense about her.
Be open to feel her energy. Is she talkative or reserved?
Is she strong and forceful or passive?
Does she have words, insight or wisdom for you?
Do you feel you can work with her on a regular basis?
Write down your experience with the goddess that you’ve chosen.
If you want, you may want to meet with another goddess to compare.
After you feel that you’ve made a match, that’s when time and devotion will be important to develop a working relationship.
Here are some winter goddesses that you may want to learn more about and research about.
Plenty of books and online resources may help you to learn more about each of these goddesses:
- Skaði (Skadi / Skathi) – Norse goddess
- Holde (Hulda) / Frau Holle (Holda) – Norse / Germanic goddess
- Demeter – Greek goddess
- Morana (Morena / Marzanna) – Slavic goddess
- Frigga – Norse goddess
- Cailleach Bheur / Beira – Celtic / Scottish
- Khione – Greek goddess
- Ameratasu – Japanese goddess
- Bona Dea – Roman goddess
How ever you celebrate this yuletide and winter season, be sure to honour your own cyclic rhythms and what the Dark Goddess calls to you.
Make space and time for yourself, take care of your mental health and physical health as well.
When Yule arrives, we begin a whole new solar year and from that day, the sun will grow and reach its peak at the summer solstice. We have new promise and beginnings soon to happen.
During the dark phase of the year, we can reflect and contemplate what we want to give birth to in the upcoming months after Yule.
Now is the time to incubate what we want to cultivate and reap by next Samhain.
Yet, this is also a time for rest. We can think about what we want to do next year, but for now, we need time to think it over and plan things out a little more.
Many blessings for the winter season ahead.