Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
Tonight, Dec. 8, is the third night of our global Solstice Sun-Wheel Prayer Circle, if you are counting down to Winter Solstice. Otherwise, if you are counting down to Christmas only, this is is Week 2.
As I have explained in past weeks, this is simply because this year, there is an extra Sunday between Solstice and Christmas. For folks who are honoring both holidays, you will just light your last candle again for Christmas.
This ceremony uses a wreath and five candles, and is intended for all spiritual paths. The Christian church calls it the Advent wreath, which was simply handed down from much older Pagan celebrations, marking the days preceding Winter Solstice. (As most Christian scholars know, the birth of Christ was probably in the springtime, but the tradition of holding the feast day around the Winter Solstice became a way to increase its popularity).
Whether you are Pagan or Christian, or something else (you don’t even have to be religious!), please participate with us anyway. Simply assign each candle a meaning that is important to your faith or world view.
And please remember – you can join us any time. So even if you have missed the first two lightings, no problem! I have provided links to the first two weeks further down this post. This also means you can still invite your friends and loved ones to join us!
You can go here to read all the details, including our intention.
This is the prelude to a moment that has been celebrated since prehistoric times, by people of every culture. The dawning of the Winter Solstice and the re-birth of the Light is coming to all beings across the Northern Hemisphere, no matter what they believe about it!
Gather with your loved ones, or alone, ideally around sunset. Ground and center yourself, or create sacred space in whatever way is right for your practice. Turn out the lights where you are, and have your wreath, candles and lighter ready.
Remember that you are joined in this sacred circle by men, women, and children of many paths, from many lands. Over the years, people have told me that this is one of the most powerful components of this practice.
So you may wish to take a moment to open your awareness to the hundreds of us, who are participating with you. We may be celebrating at the exact moment as you, or ahead of, or behind you, in real time. But we are all in the Circle, in our own liminal moment, as evening sweeps across the Earth.
As the dusk deepens, with our intention in mind, light your first candle (either from Nov. 24 or last week, depending on your choice of countdowns). Focus on all that it means to you, perhaps reviewing this aloud with your loved ones. Has its significance changed or grown stronger for you, since that first lighting?
Then, if you are counting to Solstice, light the second candle from last week, also welcoming the energy of Fire (or whatever you chose to honor). In what ways do we now call for blessing and renewal through this powerful element? In what way shall we, from this time forward, be the courageous champions of its gifts?
Counting Down to Christmas: The Second Candle
For people only counting down to Christmas, tonight is the 2nd candle, and in many denominations, it may represent Love. Some churches call it the Bethlehem candle, referring to the gifts of hospitality and the preparations of body and spirit, for receiving the Divine One. Other traditions consider it to be in reverence for the gift of the sacred scriptures and the Word.
For the Solstice countdown
If you are lighting the third candle tonight using the Elements as your guide, this candle is for West, the Element of Water.
Many Pagan traditions consider that Water is the Guardian associated with the direction of West. It empowers our emotions, dreams, intuition, empathy, and compassion. West is sacred to Autumn and the setting Sun.
Let us give thanks for all the ups and downs of our emotions. They can be tumultuous at times and strangely prescient. They open our hearts and sometimes break them, bringing cleansing tears and joyful laughter. What a sacred gift it is to feel our feelings, even when it hurts!
As you gaze upon this wondrous addition of light to the wreath before you, consider the life-giving blessings of Water. See in your mind’s eye the beautiful rains when they come gently, in balanced abundance.
Give thanks for the incredible gift of turning on a tap at your home, and having clean, pure, hot and cold water pour forth. Such luxury was beyond the imagination of gilded pharaohs and emperors of old!
Remember Mama Ocean in your thanksgiving – the Mother of us all, the ever-restless, changing, flowing source of all life on our blue planet.
Know that the river of tears and joy is a deep, ancient one that defines our humanity. It gives us the motivation and possibility of the true, deep, lasting transformation we so desperately need. May its light heal the fear, the hurt, and all of our troubled waters.
Gaze now at the dancing flames of your candles. Isn’t it astonishing how much light they create?
Tonight, it becomes truly clear that a great birthing is on the way! The dawn of the Light is getting brighter and we can be assured it is now inevitable. Let us anticipate its approach with joy, passion, and wisdom.
In alignment with our intention to be the Light bringers, embodying hope and healing, you may wish to make a promise or vow regarding how you will serve the gifts of tonight’s candle. May the powers of these Elements, or Gifts of Spirit, weave together, as we ourselves are joining together, to illuminate and bless our world.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, going backwards from Water, to Fire, to Air, (or from Love to Hope), gently extinguish your candles.
May our prayers be fulfilled for the good of all. Blessed be!