And so, on Day 25 of my month of Thanksgivings, I am overflowing with gratitude to all who have participated in the past, and who are planning to join us this year!
Inspired originally by Beltane Papers founder, the late Helen Farias, and the wonderful Waverly FitzGerald, I have found this to be a gentle, inclusive, yet powerful practice. Despite the length of this post (I have included lots of details!), the practice itself is very, very simple.
And if need be, there is an extra menu tab at the top left corner of my web pages that is the short cut to the instructions page: Advent Sun Wheel 2012.
This ritual may remind you of the Christian practice of lighting candles around an Advent wreath. That was, in fact, copied from older Pagan practices surrounding the advent of the Winter Solstice. The word “Advent,” simply means the coming of.
Therefore, this works for all faiths, all spiritual paths. You can easily adapt this to be in harmony with your own dreams, desires, and beliefs.
Over the years, the numbers participating have grown exponentially, with many of our participants telling me that it has become an important annual ceremony for themselves and their families.
So please do share this with your friends and beloveds. Join the many others throughout the world, who are also participating.
I love imagining that as the shadow of dusk crosses our Mother Earth each Sunday, there are celebrants in every time zone, lighting their candles, coming together in heart-space, and calling for the rebirth of the Sun, the awakening of the Child of Promise, and opening the gates for the great turning.
Please spread the word and good energy! Truly – the more, the merrier!
Of course, you can adapt this to your own desires for the coming year. But this year, we seem to be in such a liminal time. It is certainly a turning of the tides in America, as well as other places around the globe. And of course the much ballyhooed Winter Solstice of 2012 approaches!
I rather doubt that as we light our Solstice candle, the world is going to snuff out (as some doomsday prophets have suggested). But we are at a threshold moment. I know you feel it too, don’t you?
So much seems to hang in the balance: the economies of the world, wars and rumors of wars, the institutions we have depended on for our laws, wealth, and governance, and the survival of so many species and beings on our imperiled planet.
In so many ways, it seems we truly are at the very moment of the Great Turning of the Age.
So I suggest that in this window of time-out-of-time, this magical moment between the inhale and the exhale, where the Sun itself appears to pause in its seasonal path (“solstice” comes from the Latin meaning Sun standing still), when all possibilities, dreams, and the eons themselves come together in a single spark of rebirth, let us join together and empower the global awakening.
Let us weave our prayers in a planetary Circle, with our wreath echoing and honoring the great Circle of All That Is. Lighting our weekly candles with our awareness on the four quarter points, or holy gifts of Spirit, we anchor our vision into manifestation. The final candle is the celebration of the Divine Birth.
This year, with our loving hearts and full awareness, we help to turn the Wheel of Time. Now, with all the skill and wisdom we have learned in our lifetimes, we throw open the Gates of Dawn. We usher in a new, creative, cooperative future for humanity; we welcome a new beginning that is rooted in harmony, beauty, and balance. May all life forms be honored. May all peoples discover their common good together. This is the dawning of Light and Love that will shine from Solstice on. So mote it be.
As we make the final descent into the darkest time of the year, we do not fear the night, but honor its gifts, even as we align with the light that shall be reborn at Yule.
Candle by candle, heart to heart, each week together, we will gather in anticipation of this divine Birth.
First, you’ll need make an Advent wreath, or call it a Solstice Sun Wheel, or whatever is appropriate to your beliefs. You’ll be lighting one candle on each Sun Day prior to the Solstice, starting this Sunday Nov. 25. Either on Yule night, or on Christmas Eve, depending on your preferences, you’ll light the final, fifth candle.
Please note: This year there is an extra Sunday between Solstice and Christmas. So households counting down to Solstice only can simply begin tonight and end at Winter Solstice, Dec. 21. But the official Christian countdown begins next Sunday, Dec. 2 (because of the additional Sunday before their Big Day). So I suggest that where both traditions are joining together, begin tonight and then have an extra lighting of the fifth candle on Christmas Eve to accommodate everyone.
Thus we enact our support and respect for each other’s traditions.
Your Sun Wheel is simply a small wreath, the sacred Circle of the Divine Feminine (or the One(s) to whom you are devoted). It can be laid horizontally upon a table, altar, or other special place. Evergreens are a nice touch, but it can be of holly berries, or grapevine, or whatever materials you have on hand. The wreath should have four candles around its periphery, and a fifth candle in the Center.
The colors and type of candles are up to you. The Christian Advent wreath traditionally is made with three candles of violet, and a fourth, which is lit the last Sunday before Christmas, of rose pink. In some churches, the third candle is pink, and some also add a center pillar candle of white, which is lit on Christmas or Christmas Eve.
To be in harmony with other family members that are not Christian, or who belong to different denominations, I suggest you agree on using five candles, and the colors can be your choice.
My suggestion for non-Christians is to use five simple white candles (tea candles perhaps), or a yellow candle for East (Air), a red candle for South (Fire), a blue candle for West (Water), and a green candle for North (Earth) with a fifth candle in the center for Spirit (Mystery). A black, white or purple candle would be a good choice, but let your heart be your guide.
The idea is that each Sunday before Solstice, ideally on the threshold between day and night, at sunset, you gather together for a quiet ceremony to light a new candle.
If You Are Counting Down to Solstice, Tonight (Nov. 25) is the first Sunday
Gather with your loved ones, or alone, tonight around sunset. Ground and center yourself, or create sacred space in whatever way is right for your practice. Allow the awareness that in this prayer/spell, you are not alone – many others are gathering in their homes, too, watching the fading daylight and preparing to join with you in this work.
If you like, the first candle may be for the Element of Air. This is the realm of the mind: knowledge, information, understanding, communication. It affects our attitudes, perceptions, memories, and the stories we tell ourselves and others.
Take a moment to think about how past misunderstandings and fears may have distorted what we see, what we believe, how we make choices. If you are with others, you might talk a while about these matters. This is a time for non-judging, sharing in peace, and deep listening. This is not a time for arguing, correcting, or rationalizing; it is just a quiet container for sacred witnessing of one another.
Then, allow some silence. With your breath, inhaling and exhaling as a magical tool, let those fears and hurts be dispelled as you light your candle. As you do, give light to the hopes and rebirth that Air’s healing gifts might offer: Speak, learn, envision, imagine, sing, forgive. In this threshold time, what new stories and patterns would you like to create for the future — your own, your family’s, and your community’s?
As you do this, send your energy and intentions for empowering and welcoming the birth of the Light. Consider all the meanings that this has for you – in your own personal life, for the good of our community and our planet as well.
Be aware that, based on the many, many emails I’ve gotten over the years, there are hundreds of other people, in many different time zones, around the world, who are participating in this with you. Some have even called it a prayer version of “The Wave.”
All of our hearts are joined in this act of both acknowledging the dark, gazing with unflinching hearts at our fears, and knowing we are in unity and empowerment as we light our candles.
As you focus your will, remember that we are not fighting, fearing, or trying to defeat the dark. Darkness is necessary; without the dark, there are no dreams, no healing sleep, no deep growth that is necessary to thrive. We honor the dark, but heaven knows our troubled world is in great need of a new day dawning.
So gaze a while upon the dancing flame and call upon the powers of the week’s candle component, to heal and bless. We look forward to the coming Sun Child, and the renewal of Life. With our will and our love, for the next four weeks we are gathering the aid of each Elemental Guardian,or Gift of Spirit, in preparation for the moment when the Gates of Dawn open.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.
With Greatest Gratitude for all those who have joined in this practice over the years, and for your own presence tonight, blessed be.