We are a Circle
Within a Circle
With no beginning
And never ending…
~ by Deborah and Rick Hamouris
As I posted on Friday, it’s time once again to join together every Sunday evening through Yule (or Christmas) for our annual Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer-Spell.
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 the ninth year I have invited this gathering. 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. All are welcome!
The Basic Idea
This ceremony is simply an adaptation of the Christian practice of lighting candles on an Advent wreath. Like so many Christian practices, it has much older roots, going back to the pre-Christian tradition of counting down to the Winter Solstice.
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. I am now carrying the tradition forward, and have added a few of my own embellishments.
All you need is a wreath, five candles, and a peaceful time-out each Sunday evening from now until Winter Solstice, or Christmas, depending on your preferred climax of the celebration.
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.
The first week (today, or Dec. 1 if you are counting to Christmas), it will be one candle only. The second 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.
The Slightly Complicated Part for 2013
This year’s countdown is complicated by the fact that there is an extra Sunday between Solstice and Christmas. So for Pagans and others who are counting down to Winter Solstice, tonight is the first candle lighting, so that the fifth, final candle is lit Solstice Night (Dec. 21). For Christians, your Advent season begins next Sunday, Dec. 1, so that your fifth, final candle is lit on Christmas.
For families that are mixed, my suggestion is to start tonight, and then light the others in parallel, with candle 2 next week representing the second lighting for the non-Christians, but the first lighting for those counting down to Christmas. You will therefore be re-lighting candles four and five after Solstice for the Christian participants.
In the lighting ceremony, the candle can represent whatever quality you wish, so the tandem lighting really should not be a problem.
Why Are We Doing This?
During the next month, in the Northern Hemisphere, we will be descending into the deepest darkness of the year. Surely, on the global stage, dark deeds and secret agendas have threatened to overwhelm the flickering hopes of so many.
Our faith — in life, or the Divine, or each other — is being tested like never before.
But even as we make our way to the very bottom of time, 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 Child of Promise, the Gift of Love, the blessed renewal of life and hope returns.
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.
Our Intention for 2013
This year, I have a vision of each participant, each one of us, as the bearers and bringers of light to a world that needs us. Although we may feel utterly surrounded by the hostile, fearful, wounded victims of the old paradigms and institutions, just like the Solstice itself, even as we stand on the brink of overwhelm, despair, and deepest dark, the light is ignited: we each step forward, shining our own illumination and love.
In our ceremony, let our candles stand for the light that we are. Together, each week, growing brighter and stronger, connecting to and helping each other, we will make a sacred Circle. This Circle is woven of our gifts, our tears and laughter, our blessings, and our own illumination. Together we affirm and join the Love that encircles and blesses all.
For Our Friends in the Southern Hemisphere
I also see in my vision that all our friends south of the Equator, who are preparing to celebrate Summer Solstice, their longest day of the year, are our compatriots in this rite, lending us their good brilliance, helping us to keep our love fires blazing.
I invite you, too, to light your 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.
Tonight’s First Lighting (Nov. 24)
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.
From pollution in the air we breathe, to the spying and manipulation of global communications, think about how fear distorts what we see, what we believe, how we make choices. We pass judgments, we are told and sometimes share hurtful stories about one another. If you are with others, you might talk a while about these fears.
Then, allow some silence. With your breath, inhaling and exhaling, begin to see, know, and forgive the ways those types of fear exist.
With clarity and compassion, see the ways that your own beliefs have wounded you. The ways that you have spoken untruths or unkindness. And then, still using your breath as a magical tool, let those fears and hurts be dispelled as you light your candle.
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. (One person has 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 Element or Gift of Spirit, to heal and bless. We look forward to the coming Sun Child, and the renewal of Life.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.