Tonight, in the threshold moments of dusk wherever you are, you are invited to gather with good people across the globe, from every faith and tradition. Please join in our Solstice Sun Wheel practice, as we prepare the way for the dawn of the Light reborn.
Every Sunday at their local time of sunset, between now and Solstice and/or Christmas, many hundreds of people around the world are lighting candles together around a wreath.
Each week, in this small, quiet ceremony, we are journeying together as the Sun reaches the utmost extreme in its annual arc, either for Summer Solstice below the equator, or Yule in the Northern Hemisphere. Around the world, we are in a loving chorus of prayer and peace, honoring the darkness and the rebirth of the Light.
If you and your family are counting down to Solstice (and perhaps also to Christmas), tonight is your second lighting of the candles. Our first candle was lit last Sunday, Nov. 23.
If you are counting down only to Christmas, you will be lighting your first candle tonight.
I know it sounds a little confusing, but it’s just that this year, we have an extra Sunday between Solstice and Christmas. So the official Christian countdown begins tonight, Nov. 30.
That’s why I am suggesting that, if you wish to accommodate both traditions, you can simply have an extra lighting of the other candles on Christmas Eve, and/or Christmas Day, or whatever other day in addition to Solstice you may wish to commemorate.
PLEASE NOTE: Even if you are just now hearing about this, you have not missed out!
Because we go back and re-light the prior week’s candles before lighting the current one, you can join any time through the final lighting at Yule or Christmas! So please share – the more, the merrier, and the stronger we are.
Also, if you are busy at sunset and can only do this later or earlier in the day, no worries. There is bound to be someone, somewhere in some time zone joining you! As some have said, it’s like we are doing a prayer version of “the Wave,” traveling across the globe.
Likewise, please, please share! Invite everyone you know to join in!
You and your loved ones may change and adapt this as you prefer, but this is what I have been guided to share with you for this, our 10th Anniversary:
From within the sacred dark, we arise with the returning Light.
This year, with great attentiveness, let us begin by being still. Let us deeply honor the ebbing of the light. On each night of our ceremony, we shall together descend into the beautiful and needful dark. May it feed our roots, inspire our dreams, cradle our weariness, and know our sorrows.
May it offer us profound respite, so we may savor this time for reflection, peace, and potential — so needed in this shrill, artificially garish world.
Then, with each candle’s light, may the darkness give way to our own illumination.
We so will it that we, ourselves, are bright beacons of grace and radiance, offering tender care for the unaware and lost.
And with our interconnected weaving in this prayer working, we do aid in the Great Turning — the shift of civilization itself to a more just, kindly, and prosperous affinity with the all the worlds, and the Divine Good.
For Our Friends in the Southern Hemisphere
I also want to include all our friends south of the Equator, who are preparing to celebrate Summer Solstice, their longest day of the year. You, too, are warmly invited to join us in this rite, lending us your brilliance, helping us to keep our love fires blazing.
I invite you 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. You are the living proof of Summer’s promise.
Thus we enact our support and respect for each another’s traditions.
Suggestions for Solstice countdown
If tonight is your second candle lighting
You can, of course, designate your candles in any way you wish. For instance, each might represent qualities you would like to see empowered or augmented as a part of this Great Turning. It need not be a religious attribution, if that is your preference.
However, most people counting down to Solstice simply use the Four Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth) as their template, with the fifth, center candle representing the Fifth Element (or Source, Spirit, Akasha, Awen, the Sun King, the Oak King, or the Solstice child – whatever you like).
Tonight’s Lighting, Working With the Elements:
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.
In the twilight, consider again (as we did last Sunday) the qualities associated with the Element of Air: knowledge, information, understanding, communication. Light the first candle again — the one you lit last week — for East. See, know, and speak of how the many qualities of this Element may be healed and strengthened for the good of all.
Next, this is the night when we first call in the Element of Fire (the direction of South).
With only your East candle burning, before you light the second one, take some time to contemplate the meaning of Fire and what Fire gives us.
For instance, Fire cleanses, transforms, burns away what must be given up in order to feed the life force. Our passion is referred to as our Fire, and we all experience physical desire as a flaming energy. Fire is our creativity, our welcoming hospitality.
Fire warms and illuminates. Fire feeds us, and we feed the fires in our lives. It is the electrochemical stream that is the life force itself.
It is the gift of Prometheus, it is the sacred blessing of Brigid.
Tonight, light your second candle in thanksgiving for the gift of Fire in your life.
Visualize the bonfires lit upon ancient hilltops, signaling in times of need or celebration. Think of the hearths of our ancestors, soup bubbling, children gathered round in warmth and love while icy winds blast outside. Know that our Fire candle tonight, being lit by others across town and across the world, chases the gloom, the dank, and the cold dark fears that have chilled our hearts for too long.
Combined with the first candle of Air, look how much brighter things already are! This is how we will see the bright, inevitable dawning of the new beginnings ahead.
If You Are Counting Down to Christmas ONLY
Welcome to all the families and friends who have begun the Advent season today. For Christians not also counting down to Solstice, tonight is your first candle. In many denominations, it represents Hope. Other denominations consider the first candle to be in honor of Isaiah and the other seers and prophets of the Bible.
Note how this is in perfect harmony with any Solstice celebrants in your household who see their first candle as the Element of Air, for in the beginning, was the Word.
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.
At some point, you may wish to repeat the overarching intention for this year’s work (as posted above), or your own desires. Take some time to open your deepest sensitivities, and feel the presence of all the others who are in ceremony with you, for you are absolutely NOT alone. Countless past participants have told me how palpable the experience of the others in this prayer circle around the globe feels.
At last, whenever you are ready, gently, reverently extinguish your candles, in reverse order if you have lit two.
Know that as you have said it, so it shall be.