Leave the Past Behind with this Illuminating Tarot Spread for Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Also ushering in the start of Capricorn season (on December 21st) and astronomical winter, this solstice is a natural time for reflection and introspection, bringing opportunities for rest, awareness, and renewal.

Traditionally, the Winter Solstice celebrates the return of the Sun, as, from this point in the calendar, our days will gradually become longer.

Eventually, this will lead to the warming of the Earth and spring’s new growth — but for now, we have an opportunity to reflect on the last few seasons, on what we’ve released, and how those shifts have impacted us.

Make sure you don’t miss this article: Which Tarot Cards Represent Capricorn?

Winter Solstice is a Time for Introspection

This time of year brings a natural stillness, a quiet contemplation that creates opportunities for recognizing how we have grown, the changes that we have made, the losses that we have seen, and the dreams that live within us.

Consider:

  • What necessary transformations did Scorpio season bring?
  • How have you embraced new fire and adventure in Sagittarius season?
  • And with Capricorn season about to begin, which ambitions and goals are you ready to pursue?

You may find it useful to look back at where you were during the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and the Autumn Equinox, considering what you were working through and recognizing during those seasons. How have you grown and changed since then? What have you learned?

Don’t miss: 5 Ways to Embrace Rebirth This Winter Solstice

Consider what this time of year is illuminating: what you are being invited to reflect on, to interrogate, to imagine.

What are you dreaming of?

How have you already taken steps to make your wishes come true, and which opportunities are making themselves known?

As the Sun’s light becomes brighter and clearer, which desires are revealing themselves?

This time of year doesn’t have to be focused exclusively on achievement, success, growth cycles: winter invites hibernation, quietude, reflection and isn’t only about resting up to empower ambition.

What do we learn about ourselves when we’re silent, still, observant? Which secret corners are the Sun’s lengthening rays illuminating? What mysteries do they reveal?

A Tarot Spread for Yule / Winter Solstice

A sample placement tarot spread for winter solstice.

Our spread for the Winter Solstice focuses on revelation, reminding you to slow down, be present, and invite in light, warmth, joy.

By reflecting on the past, acknowledging pleasure in the present, and anticipating gifts in the future, we make space for contemplation, activation, and celebration. When we intentionally step back from movement and listen to those quiet voices that dwell within, new mysteries, new desires, and new understandings can reveal themselves.

Read this next: A Tarot Reading to See What the Rest of 2021 Holds

In addition to this spread, I’m also including a brief sample reading so that you can see how to use this layout in your own rituals.

As always, please note that these cards were not pulled for a particular person, situation, or challenge — but you may still find some wisdom that resonates.

Sample tarot cards pulled for winter solstice including eight of cups, two of cups, guardian of wands, child of cups, the hermit, and the devil.

Card One: A Lesson From the Past

8 of Cups

Tied to the suit of emotions and the heart, the 8 of Cups is a card of leaving something behind, of choosing the self, of being willing to start over.

Often this speaks of a toxic relationship or a circumstance that cannot be overcome — something that is broken beyond repair, that we have tried everything in our power to fix. And in being willing to imagine another way, in prioritizing our own healing and comfort over a destructive pattern, we open ourselves up to new possibilities.

As a lesson from the past, this card speaks of a prior choice that has served us, a fork in the road where we put ourselves first.

What deliberate shifts have we made, and how has closing one door allowed others to open?

Card Two: A Joy in the Present

Child of Cups / Page of Cups

Also known as the Page of Cups, this is a card of wonder and awe, seeing beauty in the world, trusting intuition, and having faith in the self.

Another card in the suit of emotion, this is someone young and inexperienced but with a powerful natural sense of artistry, connection, and optimism. Pages often bring messages or speak to communication, and in this position of joy in the present, this figure is urging us to celebrate the relationships that we are forming and strengthening and to allow our feelings to flow freely.

There is so much potential all around us, and in keeping our hearts open, we are reminded that anything is possible.

Card Three: A Gift in the Future

The Hermit

Our first Major Arcana card of this reading, the Hermit, is an archetype of solitude, self-examination, and deep reflection. This is someone that has deliberately chosen to step out of their routines and is now doing the hard work of internal interrogation.

Consider:

  • Which choices have brought us to this point?
  • How do we feel about what we are building?
  • What have we learned about ourselves, and what are we still seeking to understand?

In this position of a future gift, the Hermit speaks of an opportunity to disrupt our daily patterns and understand ourselves on a new level. Awareness can bring powerful gifts and can help us find new confidence, strength, and courage.

Card Four: Something To Contemplate

2 of Cups

The third and final card from the suit of emotions in this reading, the 2 of Cups, is often linked to new love or deepening relationships, speaking of choices and potential in matters of the heart.

Romance and attraction are incredibly powerful forces, and ties like friendship, partnership, and community can have a massive impact on how we see ourselves. As something to contemplate, this card wants us to consider where we are investing our emotional energy and to pay attention to the openness of our hearts.

Who are we allowing in?

Card Five: Something To Activate

Guardian of Wands / Queen of Wands

Also known as the Queen of Wands, this is a ruler of fire, someone with a deep and authentic understanding of their own creative spark.

When we live in alignment with our most personal passions, when we allow our soul to shine through in our work and play, we can find energy, movement, and power that ignites everyone around us. And as something to activate, this queen wants us to embrace and celebrate everything that lights us up, that gives us brilliance, that inspires us to act.

She asks us to consider: What makes you shine? We have a chance to let our magic radiate outwards, influence our loved ones and communities, make a real difference. What matters to you?

Card Six: Something To Celebrate

The Devil

The Devil.

Our second Major Arcana card for this reading, the Devil, is a challenging archetype of temptation, destructive patterns, and struggling for control. Yet, in this position of celebration, we can find new interpretations for this card: opportunities to break free of old bonds or invitations to embrace our wild side in a way that we don’t always permit ourselves.

The Devil often tempts us to go back to our old ways, so this could be a reminder of challenges that we have overcome — or could offer insights into a piece of ourselves that we have been ignoring.

Consider:

  • What are you afraid to try, to see, to experience?
  • Where might you be clinging to control so tightly that you’ve cut off paths to pleasure?
  • How do you balance self-discipline with genuine joy?

Use the Major & Minor Arcana to Help You Through This Season

With two Major Arcana archetypes and three cards from the Suit of Cups, this reading is one of heart, soul, and passion.

Many of these cards highlight the solstice’s theme of solitude and reflection, from the Eight of Cups and the Hermit’s moving away from old things to the Queen of Wands’ ability to shine brightly and independently. The Devil gives us an opportunity to examine our motivations, to reflect on what is really driving us and what we are truly in control of.

And with both the Page and Two of Cups in this reading, there are also some new beginnings happening, beautiful invitations to keep our hearts wide open and trust our intuition to guide us forward.

Overall, the cards are urging patience and compassion for the self, as well as reminding us to give ourselves permission to seek pleasure as well as stability.

These cards also urge you to consider:

  • What truly makes you happy?
  • Who makes you feel safe, seen, loved?
  • How are your choices guiding you towards solid ground?

As you reflect on this season, give yourself real opportunities to rest: not purely so that you can be even more productive on the other side, but for the authentic pleasure and satisfaction that comes from being still. What does your intuition offer when you take the time to listen?

How are you carving out space for awareness, contemplation, and clarity?

Check out: Crystals That Boost Motivation Throughout Each Season

About The Author
Meg Jones Wall
Meg Jones Wall (she/her) is a queer photographer, writer, and tarot reader based in NYC. She is a columnist and contributor at Autostraddle, shares daily card studies and original tarot spreads as 3am.tarot on Instagram and recently launched a tarot newsletter, devils & fools. She is currently working on her first book and is available for personal readings and writing opportunities through her website.
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