Brightener of Darkness, hail!
Keeper of Clearness, Opener of the Depths.
Gifts of plenty are arising,
Winter wonders, white snows’ fall.
Joyful be the heart within us,
Open wide the guesting door,
Wisdom waken in abundance,
Warm our beings to the core.
Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings, by Caitlín Matthews
Ring the bells of joy and blessings! Throw open the Gates of Dawn ~ on this day, the Light has been born!
Let us gather as our ancestors of old did, to celebrate one of the happiest days in the Pagan calendar!
This is the time of the Promise fulfilled, the blessings of new beginnings. As our intention has vowed, lighting our Advent Sun Wheel, we have invoked the irrepressible dawning of healing, grace, and rebirth. .
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The precise moment of the 2016 Solstice arrived Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 5:45 am, Eastern Standard Time.
At this moment, the Sun moved into the sign of Capricorn. Winter arrives as the Sun reaches the 270° point on the zodiac wheel. Thus begins the return towards the 0° point, which will be reached at Spring Equinox.
Winter Solstice, which is also known as Yule, Yule Night or Julblot, Winter Rite, Midwinter, and the Druids’ Alban Arthan, marks the longest night of the year, after which time the days will begin to grow longer and the hours of darkness decrease.
Ancient Day of Power Around the World
This is possibly the most universal and oldest known holy day of all humanity. There are written records 4,000 years old describing Mesopotamian rites performed to celebrate the end of the darkening. And there are even older ancient structures around the world that were designed to mark the Sun’s placement on this day.
For instance, Newgrange, a beautiful Neolithic site in Ireland, is a huge circular stone structure, estimated to be 5,200 years old. It is centuries older than Stonehenge, and older than the Egyptian pyramids.
It was built to receive a shaft of sunlight deep into its central chamber at dawn on Winter Solstice. Around 235,000 people visit Newgrange and its neighboring passage graves at Knowth and Dowth each year.
Hundreds of other prehistoric structures throughout the world are oriented to the solstices and the equinoxes. The field of archaeoastronomy studies such sacred sites in the Americas, Asia, Indonesia, and the Middle East.
Recent research into the medieval Great Zimbabwe in sub-Saharan Africa (also known as the “African Stonehenge”) indicates a similar purpose. In North America, one of the most famous such sites is the Sun Dagger of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, built a thousand years ago by the Chacoans, ancestors of the Pueblo people.
In much of Asia, it’s known as Dongzh. According to the late astrologer Jon Cainer, in Japan, this is Toji. “Around the world,” he writes, “in very different ways, billions of us mark the moment of the Solstice, the turning point of the Sun. Associated deities and festivals include Beiwe (Scandinavia), Chaomos (Pakistan), Goru (Mali), Junkanoo (West Africa), Brumalia (Greece), Lucia (Scandinavia), Meán Geimhridh (Celtic countries), Modranicht (Germany), Rozhanitsa (Russia), Shab-e Chelleh (Iran), Şeva Zistanê (Kurdish), Soyal (Hopi Indians), We Tripantu (Southern Chile) and Ziemassvetki (Latvia).”
Some even speculate that Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, was also originally a Solstice festival. Yule and Saturnalia definitely were. And Christmas still is!
The Winter Solstice Sabbat is joyfully celebrated by Pagans and Witches throughout the world, as well as rural and indigenous peoples who pay attention to the rhythms of the seasons.
On this longest night of the year, on the threshold of Winter, we celebrate the rebirth of the divine Sun Child, the Oak King, the Giver of Life.
The Final Candle of Our Solstice Sun Wheel
Either at the moment of Solstice, local time, or else tonight at dusk, we will complete our advent Sun Wheel magical working, unless you are observing Christmas or some other holiday also. If so, you’ll light (or re-light) the final candle then.
Gather with loving hearts all who are near you, embodied, or perhaps not, for this pause as the Sun comes to a stop is a holy time of power — the veil between the worlds is thin.
This is the emptiness, the standing still of the Sun, the space between breaths, where Magic happens. Enter this dark Mystery with your shining candle, your own brilliant spirit.
Whether you choose the Solstice moment or later today at sunset, call once more to the Guardians and Elements of East/Air, South/Fire, West/Water, and North/Earth. Or if you have assigned other meanings for the four peripheral candles, of course, invoke those energies.
Finally, the time has come to light the center candle, which would be for Spirit, the Aethers, the Cauldron, or Mystery. Or you may wish it to simply represent Rebirth or Hope.
Kindle the flame of Center and call upon all your Divine Ones, the most holy Ones to whom you are devoted.
No matter what the coming Winter season and the longer future may hold in store, with our light, our prayers, and our intention, we have joined together in love. We are welcoming the Child of Light.
Speak of your heart’s greatest wish. Remember that this is the most magical moment when wishes do come true. As you have spoken it, so it shall be done.
Our candles now burn brightly and illuminate the promise of the days ahead. Let the shadows and mourning now begin to disperse, in alignment with the most ancient rhythms of the Earth’s wisdom.
The Circle is complete and the Center is ablaze. The Divine Birth has come! All of existence celebrates this miracle.
Ring your Solstice bells! Burn your old Yule greenery from last year. Go outside and shout, drum, light your bonfires, give thanks to the Beloved Ones!
Make merry and rejoice! We have united together across the worlds, with one another, and with Love Herself.
Thank you to one and all who have shared your magic, good energy, and loving prayers to our rite this year.
May the Lord and the Lady bring you brightest blessings.