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Winter Solstice | Thoughts on the Well Dressing – the Returning Light

Lanterns at sunrise on Winter Solstice 2020 at Chalice Well
Lanterns at sunrise

The foundation of this Winter Solstice dressing is made from yew (Taxus baccata) and larch (Larix decidua), symbols of transformation, rebirth and spiritual connection. Simply as an evergreen, the yew represents perpetual life and hope; whilst birch (Betula pendula) acknowledges the turning of the Wheel.

With them is holly (Ilex aquifolium) for protection and in honour of the Holly King of winter; and its lyrical partner, ivy (Hedera helix), representing the bonds of family, clan and that to which we choose to attach. Similarly and for softness the seed heads of clematis including Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) found so often in abundance in our hedgerows.

In representation and hope of the returning sun and fertility of the field are dried heads of Centaurea montana and nigellas.

Also the last of our golden Graham Thomas roses, blessed at the Solstice fire held online yesterday and here a symbol of friendship and care.

“It is always darkest before the dawn.”

Although this is not scientifically true, we know that sometimes it feels like this. Just as for our ancestors, this is the time we need to hold firm in our belief of the returning sun. Whilst we continue to honour the darkness during this resting time, the seeds are beginning to form roots in anticipation of the coming spring.

Even if we feel we are stumbling in the darkness, we are with each loving thought welcoming in the light.

However we connect to our spiritual support and love at this time, whether it’s through a whisper in the leafless trees, the receipt of divine golden light or the quiet voice of conscience, we are all simply looking for the light of inspiration and connectedness.

Madonna & Child dressing

May this dressing and your connection to the Well bring love and peace to you, all you call family and the place you call home this Winter Solstice and in the new year.

With love, blessings and gratitude for all the love you have shared with us this year,


These delightful arrangements were made by Julie, our new Retreat Facilities Manager, from the garden for the Upper Room. They accompanied the quiet meditation held by a small group there at midday today in honour of the Winter Solstice.

11 thoughts on “Winter Solstice | Thoughts on the Well Dressing – the Returning Light

  1. Thank you, Alisoun. We look forward to welcoming you when you are able to return. Blessings, Penny.

  2. Thank you so much for your words !

  3. Thank you very much! I live in Argentina and I went to The chalice last year. I could not go last September Like I wanted To but I hope I will be there next April. All the dressings are Beautiful! May the golden light be with you!
    Thank you for all The blessings and I wish you always the best!

  4. Thank you 🙏 for sharing this beautiful dressing of the Well .
    This Winter Solstice Blessing has touched my heart .
    Love and light to you all at The Chalice Well .

    Penny ❤️

  5. Beautiful peace be with you all.

  6. I love coming here or on Fb to enjoy the Beauty you share, the beautiful and sweet energy of this sacred land of Glastonbury. It is so soothing to know that despite the difficult year we have had to go through, Hope is there, Faith is there. We hold it together, even virtually, even from shore to shore, despite the health crisis, despite Brexit and the upcoming deadlines, yes, friends of Great Britain, I am French, but part of my heart loves the sweetness of your country. THANK YOU very much for all the energy you put into your shares, I repeat myself. Be blessed and Beautiful New Year.

    1. Thank you, Pascale, for your kind and thoughtful message. I am so glad you are able to enjoy and connect to the Well online when not here in person. Thankfully the love and support surrounding the Well has no borders. Blessings, Penny.

  7. Beautiful! Thank you for allowing me to connect with the garden and all of you. Love

    1. Such a pleasure, M. Teresa. Thank you. Blessings, Penny.

  8. How very beautiful, Penny. Thank you so very much for this loveliness. Happy Solstice and a Blessed Yuletide to you and to us all … as we welcome the light and the days to come.

    1. Thank you for your kind message and appreciation, Peggy. Blessings to you & hope to see you in the new year… Penny

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