Love is the vital essence that pervades and permeates, from the center to the circumference, the graduating circles of all thought and action. Love is the talisman of human weal and woe — the open sesame to every soul.
— Elizabeth Cady Stanton
If you have been a regular reader here in past years, you know that during this period at the end of November, I invite my visitors to join together in a virtual spell weaving. Inspired by the wonderful Waverly FitzGerald’s ideas in School of the Seasons, it is a gentle, but powerful practice that many of my readers have found deeply meaningful. I know I have.
And if this ritual is in harmony with your own dreams and desires, I encourage you to share it with your friends and beloveds.
For now, as we move into the darkest time of the year, as we honor the gifts and lessons of the night, we also begin the preparations for the rebirth of the Sun.
Tonight, we will begin this spell for the return of the Light. It is based on the Christian practice of lighting candles around an Advent wreath, which, in fact, was copied from older Pagan practices surrounding the advent of the Winter Solstice.
The Christians call this season Advent, referring to the coming birth of their God. But “advent” simply means “to come,” and virtually all northern hemisphere cultures throughout history have made merry in this time of preparation for the great miracle of the longest night. Because this is when the long descent into the darkness ends, and the daylight begins to lengthen once more.
This is the rebirth of the Light, the coming of the shining Child of Promise.
The Solstice Sun Wheel is simply a small wreath laid horizontally upon a table, altar, or other special place. Evergreens are a nice touch, but holly berries have lots of rich magic. Or it can be grapevine, or whatever materials you have on hand. The wreath will have four candles around its periphery, one for each of the Sun’s sacred days (Sundays) leading up to Solstice. And I suggest a fifth candle for the Center, which you can then light on Solstice night, or Christmas.
The Christian Advent wreath traditionally is made with four candles in a circle of evergreens. Three candles are violet and the fourth, which is lit the last Sunday before Christmas, is rose pink.
My Witchy suggestion would be either five white candles (tea lights would be great) for simplicity, 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 for this.
Let our intention be that we will shine with the Light of understanding and truth. Let our Light awaken what is best in our human family and help us to restore wisdom, honor, balance, beauty, and good will among all beings. Let the Light guide our hearts and hands to act for the healing of our Mother Earth.
The actual ritual is very simple. This evening, Sunday, Nov. 23, ideally at sunset, take some time for a quiet ceremony to light one candle, for the Guardians of East, or the Element of Air (or whoever your tradition invokes first, when casting a Circle).
As you do this, send your energy and intentions for 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, our nation, and the planet as well. What is your deepest wish and will for the coming year, in the Light reborn? You may want to share these thoughts with your family, and invite their participation.
Meditate on the fact that (based on the many, many emails I’ve gotten every year) there are untold hundreds of other people, in many different time zones, around the world, who are participating in this with you.
As the shadow of sunset moves over our globe, envision how, one by one, a candle is lit in friendship, hope, and intention. All of our hearts are joined in this act of both acknowledging the dark, and yet recognizing our power to light a candle of hope and renewal.
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 the new day dawning.
So gaze a while upon the dancing flame and call upon the powers of that Element or Gift of Spirit, to bless and protect the renewal of Light.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.