Why use herbs to celebrate winter solstice?

We come into the winter solstice each year knowing that it is a magical time of new life and rebirth. Especially after the emotionally and physically exhausting year that 2020 has been, celebrating the winter solstice this year could be a wonderful time to see light in the midst of darkness, hope in the disarray. Our favorite winter solstice herbs let us lean into the magic of the season.

Over the past few months, the days have grown darker into rest. The winter solstice gives us a chance to find that rest and nourishment, while also looking at what’s ahead. We see light ahead of us and good things to come in this next cycle of the Earth. During our celebrations, we rely on herbs and flowers that provide wisdom and give dreams, offer calm and tranquility, bring us healing, and fill us with joy. Using herbs in our celebration also lets us tap into the beauty of the natural world and see how we are connected to the everlasting cycles of nature.

Our Winter Solstice Herbs

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Bay Leaves

for wisdom and dreams: bay leaves

During my winter solstice celebrations, I often find myself in the kitchen, imbuing each dish with a little herbal magick. Add this easily accessible herb to any soup, stew, or the filling to a delicious savory pie. Using bay leaves in your dishes provides wisdom and will let you lean into your dreams, both in reality and in your sleep. It’s important to me during the winter solstice to find connection with my inner self. Making a meal and then eating with intention, and then resting in that magic through journaling is a wonderful solstice ritual.

If you want some ‘foodspiration’, both of my favorite recipes using bay leaves come from Ruby Tandoh’s Flavour–her lentil cottage pie and bay and cinnamon couscous are perfect recipes for cold winter days.

for calm and rest: lavender

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Lavender is, and has always been, my go-to herb. During the solstice, I yearn to find patience, rest, and calm. I find that tapping into the power of lavender is the perfect way to allow my body and mind to relax and settle into the slowness and darkness. For many, the days leading up to solstice are days of waiting and anticipation. These feelings often lead to stress and anxiety. During this time of year, especially, I try to use lavender in a variety of ways. From incorporating lavender into floral incense bundles to using lavender essential oil on my temples to steeping dried lavender in my tea, I lean into this herb’s magic.

For your solstice celebration, try serving up warm mugs of earl grey tea steeped with lavender. Add a little milk of choice and some honey, and you have the perfect drink.

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for healing: cedar 

Last year in the studio, we were all about cedar. Cedar is not only festive. It also has an abundance of magickal properties that add a little something special to any solstice celebration. In the days leading up to the winter solstice, I love to weave this herb into a wreath to hang on my front door. These wreaths remind of earth’s natural cycle and offer protection and healing in my home.

Healing and protection are important during the winter solstice. Seeking renewal during the winter solstice gives us hope for what’s to come next and gives us clarity for what happens next in our lives. Whether you are weaving together or burning cedar as an herbal incense, its magick will radiate through you and bring you the energy you need for winter solstice.

for joy: oregano

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Previously, I said I often find myself and the kitchen during the solstice, so we are going back to the kitchen to talk about oregano. This kitchen staple can bring joy and energy into the winter solstice. I love breaking bread with my friends and family, so baking an aromatic oregano bread is a favorite solstice tradition. As you knead the dough (or make whatever your culinary concoction is), add purpose and intention to your every moment.

We all need to be able to find joy and good energy during the solstice. Celebrate the little light we have and find contentment and peace in the season’s darkness.

Winter Solstice Herbs in the Everyday

In addition to seasonal Floral Design offerings, we work with girls throughout Missoula on getting in tune with the cycles of their bodies and setting their own intentions using the power and special properties of herbs. This program empowers girls to learn more about the natural environment and find solace in the everyday practice of using herbs.

Find out more about Earth Within Girls, donate, or get involved on EWG’s website.