We are a Circle
Within a Circle
With no beginning
And never ending…
~ by Deborah and Rick Hamouris
As I posted last week, TONIGHT is the night that we begin joining together every Sunday evening through Yule (or Christmas) for our annual Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer Circle.
If you have been a regular reader of mine, you know that starting in late November, I invite all my visitors, regardless of your spiritual path, to join together in a virtual Advent prayer circle (or spell weaving, if you’d prefer to think of it like that).
This is our ELEVENTH anniversary! The numbers joining us have doubled multiple times, making it now a huge, truly world-wide event.
So please join us each week, and please tell your friends and loved ones. The underlying energy of this practice is, by its very nature, inclusive and welcoming to all beliefs, traditions, and philosophies.
You can’t do it wrong and you can start ANY time. So if you have to miss it this week, you can still start with us next week, or any time until it’s over.
The Basic Idea
The original source for this particular adaptation was the late Helen Farias, founder of The Beltane Papers magazine, and then it was continued by Waverly FitzGerald in her School for the Seasons teachings.
Since 2004, I have been carrying the tradition forward via my own website, adding a few of my own embellishments.
This ceremony is simply an adaptation of the more familiar Christian practice of lighting candles on an Advent wreath.
All you need is a wreath, five candles, and a peaceful time-out each Sunday evening from now until Winter Solstice, and/or Christmas, depending on your preferred climax of the celebration. Of course, you can make it as elaborate or simple as you prefer.
Each Sunday, you will light a candle that is symbolic of some attribute, element, or vision, as we go into the deepest darkness of the year, and prepare for the birth of the Child of Promise, the standing still moment of Solstice, the reawakening of the Light.
Tonight, it will be one candle only. Next week you will light first the candle from Week 1, then the second candle. And so on, until Solstice night, or Christmas Eve, when you light the fifth, final candle, depending on your preference.
Why Are We Doing This?
This is the season of Advent, which is not a strictly Christian term, although it is the name given to this very important season of the church. Advent simply means “to come,” so it can apply to the coming of the Christ child, or the coming of the year’s longest night and the assured revitalizing of the Light.
We are honoring both the fertile, necessary endarkenment, and preparing for the renewal and enlightenment.
For many of us, our faith — in life, or the Divine, or each other — is being tested like never before.
As we make our way to the end of the calendar year, the deepest dark of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are also preparing for that moment of stillness, when the Sun halts its descent, the Wheel of Time turns, and rebirth comes.
Even in the heart of the darkness, the light is never extinguished. The Gift of Love, the blessed renewal of life and hope, returns.
All Paths Are Welcome
This ceremony is possibly the most familiar to Christians, since many denominations practice Advent ceremonies for Christmas, both in the home, and at church.
But it works beautifully for Pagans, too, counting down to Solstice by calling in the four Elements, or Directions.
I know of one couple who uses this as an opportunity to make a donation to charities related to the Elemental direction of the week. For instance, in this week of the element of Air, they might send a donation to the LUNGevity Foundation, then in the second week (Fire), the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and so on.
This ceremony adapts easily, too, for Buddhists, who might wish to light a candle each week to honor the The Five Skandhas, or perhaps the Four Noble Truths, with the final candle representing liberation.
Hindus might wish to choose sacred elements of the Vedanta for each candle.
Jews can imbue each candle to represent the five books of the Torah — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Non-religious attributions can center on what you may feel are the five most important qualities for a worthwhile life, or your favorite philosophical virtues. The possibilities are limitless, and can be adapted to any spiritual or intellectual path.
Our Intention for 2015
We are the bringers of warm welcome, grace, and radiance. We shine the light of wisdom and guidance for all in need. We offer our Light that heals and inspires.
We aid and embody the shift of our human family to a more just, compassionate, and fruitful affinity with all the worlds, and the Divine Good.
Additional thoughts can be found in the general information page here.
For Our Friends in the Southern Hemisphere
I invite you, also, to light Summer Solstice candles (perhaps on a Summer wreath of herbs and flowers), and shine your dazzling hearts upon this work with us. For you, too, are the light-keepers and an integral part of this weaving.
You are the stewards of the Light’s climax now, as it shines and warms, and you will be guiding it back to those of us in colder climes soon.
Inspiration for Tonight’s First Lighting (Nov. 29)
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.
The first candle may represent the Element of Air: knowledge, information, understanding, communication. It is important to acknowledge the dissonance and worry currently affecting this element.
For some Christian denominations, the first candle on the Advent wreath represents Hope. Others consider the first candle to be in honor of Isaiah and the other seers and prophets of the Bible, who promised the coming of the Savior.
Note how this is in harmony with any Solstice celebrants in your household, who see their first candle as the Element of Air — imagination, visions, song, story, the mind. In the beginning, was the Word.
From pollution in the air we breathe, to the spying and manipulation of global communications, think about how fearful perception distorts our allegiances, what we see, what we believe, how we make choices. We pass judgments, we are told and sometimes share hurtful stories about one another.
The stories in the media and that we share with each other can muddy our clarity, augment our fears, or inspire our Hope. If you are with others, you might have a discussion about this.
Then, allow some silence. With your breath, inhaling and exhaling, begin to see, know, and understand the power of this first candle.
With clarity and compassion, ignite the spark that will awaken the candle of East, dawn, and Hope. Let its flame illuminate with the Word, which is the divine promise given to all.
When your candle is lit, experience a profound awareness and gratitude for your own breath — the first, last, and most vital gift of life. Feel your inhale and exhale — your life-long companion, as it helps you relax, become alert, and aware. Let your breath sigh, or laugh, or sing, or pray.
As you light your candle, think quietly of all it represents to you. If you have words, Bible verse, a prayer, or a song to share aloud, please do. If not, simply focus on how this one candle changes the darkness to light in and of itself. Isn’t that exactly what our common desire is, regardless of denomination or faith?
Bask in its beautiful light, giving thanks in whatever ways your heart speaks to you.
Be aware that, based on the many, many emails I’ve gotten over the years, there are certainly hundreds, very probably thousands of other people, in many different time zones, around the world, who are participating with you.
All of us are joined in this act of acknowledging the dark. We gaze with unflinching courage at our fears; we bless the fertile, necessary night; we accept the shadowy, silent Mystery of the unknown.
Acknowledging this, we are in unity as we light our candles.
As you do this, send your energy and intentions for empowering and welcoming the birth of the Light. Consider all the meanings that “Light” has for you – in your own personal life, for the good of our community and our planet as well.
Gaze a while upon the dancing flame and call upon the powers of the week’s Element or Gift of Spirit, to heal and bless. Let it illuminate you, sparking your own spirit.
Now, the Advent has begun. We look for the coming Sun Child, the renewal of Life, the attainment, for all humanity, of Awareness.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.