This festival marks the rebirth of the Light. The usual date is 21 December, as the Sun moves from Sagittarius into Capricorn. Midwinter is a minor festival, held at midnight.
From Midwinter, the days start lengthening again. The world is still dark and cold, but the hope for a new Spring is reborn. In the Celtic Year this was only a minor festival, but to the Germanic peoples it was very important. That is why it has become the most important and certainly most noticeable festival of the Year in most Western countries.
Yet Midwinter is the still point of the Year. There has been a birth, but the new Year is yet very young. Midwinter heralds a time of thought and dreaming, a time to look forward and plan for the rest of the year in the safety of your house and in the warmth of your fire. It is essential at this time to reflect on what has been and what is to come.
The Midwinter Festival is a celebration of the continual renewal of life. The serpent sloughs off another skin, and starts another cycle. Whether the Festival falls in the Compost Moon or the Seed Moon, it always feels like a new beginning, especially since the common calendar New Year is only ten days away.
So celebrate the new beginning. Affirm your intentions for the Year ahead. Start making some concrete plans to flesh out the Year's task. Let your Ritual show your inspiration.
Midwinter corresponds with the Northern point of the Wheel of the Year, so that is where I place my altar. On it are the usual symbols of the Elements, as well as the ingredients for a Midwinter incense. There is also a stone and a piece of handmade paper with a green pen.
I cast the Circle and invoke the Elements. Then I state the purpose of the rite, the celebration of new beginnings, and invoke the Goddess. At this point that is still the Cailleach, the Keeper of the Seeds.
I raise the power by dancing around my cauldron, deosil of course, to the words of an appropriate chant. When I feel ready, I direct the power into the cauldron and light the charcoal block.
As the incense burns, I meditate on the new beginnings that are visible in my life and in the world, the little seeds of positive growth. I ask the Goddess how I can help these things grow, and I make a triple commitment: one for my personal life, one for my work, and one for the world. These I write on the handmade paper and that is wrapped around the stone. After the Ritual, I will bury it or place it under my sacred oak tree.
I finish off with a communion of bread and wine, an affirmation of my Unity with all things on the Web of Life. Then I thank the Goddess and any spirits who have come to visit and I open the Circle.
To finish, I have communion of bread and wine, affirming my connection with all things on the Web of Life. I then thank the Goddess and all the spirits who came to visit and I open the Circle.