The Earth is steadfast and holds all that I need in Her open hand.
I am glad to wait in the silent breath of the Earth.
She is courage and love
She, comfort and support.
The Earth is joy and my source of strength.
Psalm 27, Earth Psalms by Angela Magara
Today is the fourth and final Sun Day before Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Tonight, you are invited to join once again (or for the first time) in our Yule/Advent ritual.
If you are celebrating this rite from a Pagan perspective, the fourth candle may represent the direction of North, or the element of Earth. In many Christian traditions, the fourth candle on the Advent wreath symbolizes Love.
Isn’t it divine, how these two meanings — the Earth, and Love, which are fundamental to our two traditions — are so beautifully intertwined?
So tonight, gather with your beloveds, or in your quiet solitude, knowing in either case, you are not alone. There are great numbers of us circling the planet. We are all gathering as darkness falls, which depends as much on latitude and Earth positioning as on clock time or time zone.
Turn out the lights where you are, and have your wreath, candles and lighter ready. Then, ground yourself, find your center, and create sacred space in whatever way is right for your practice.
In the twilight, consider again (as you did on Nov. 27) the fears that might be associated with Hope and Expectations (in many Christian traditions) or else the Element of Air: knowledge, information, understanding, communication. Light this candle and see, know and forgive the ways those types of fear exist.
Then, move to the next candle that you lit Dec. 4 – the candle that represents the Element of Fire, the direction of South, or for our Christian friends, this candle often represents the Bible, the principle of knowledge, or the manger in Bethlehem.
In what ways do the matters associated with this candle, when out of balance, create fear in our world? And in what ways do you offer your prayers for them to be healed? As you send out your hope for blessings, light this candle.
This brings us now to the third candle, which we lit last week. In the Christian church, this candle is often pink, and represents Joy. For Witches, Pagans, and other Earth paths, I’ve suggested that it is for West, the Element of Water. Pagans know that Water is the Guardian of our emotions, intuition, empathy, compassion and is sacred to Autumn and the setting Sun.
In what ways do fear, selfishness, distortion, and misunderstanding pollute the waters of our emotions, as well as the literal, life-giving waters of our world? As you light your candle, with your energy, dispel and send healing to those roiling waves of anger, hate, fear, and bigotry that threaten to drown us all.
Now, we come to the last candle before the holiday itself. Before lighting the fourth candle for tonight, consider the aspects that are related to the Earth, or Love, that need healing.
What fears, scarcities, illusions, and greed have contaminated our holy Mother Earth, and our relationships with her? What is our definition of wealth, scarcity, and sufficiency?
How do we, ourselves, treat our planet? While it is lovely to appreciate all the beauty, bounty, and treasure She offers us, how do our daily decisions actually affect Her?
For instance, when I buy groceries, do I know anything about the lives of the people, the corporations, the farming, the packaging, and the transport that enabled those products to be served at my table?
What kinds of labor conditions, financial structures, and wealth (or lack of it) do my daily purchases support? Where do my electronics, cosmetics, jewelry, furniture, and clothing come from?
And where does my stuff go when I no longer want it? Of course, I don’t throw garbage out my car window, or litter the streets of our city. But I am still half-responsible for the trip we have to make to the Durham County Solid Waste site every two weeks (we don’t have access to city trash services).
How much do I know about the stewardship practices of the stores, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial enterprises that I support with my money? Do they acquire their resources in responsible ways? How do they dispose of their wastes and by-products?
The ongoing debacle of our financial institutions; the fears around hunger, disease, and climate change; the shaky backing behind our money; the response to natural disasters; the contamination and genetic modification of our food; and the very future of a habitable planet are all Earth issues have reached a crisis point.
Yes. Pretty heavy stuff.
But we have a candle before us. When we understand this, we can bring the light.
Blessings to the Dark; Welcome Bringer of the Light
So I invite you to give thanks for the dark, for the blessed Earth.
Silent Guardian of the North, we stand on your threshold of Winter. Keeper of the deep places in the planet, the roots that are beyond knowing, we now light our fourth candle together, celebrating the great Love we all share with one another, and with this beautiful, divine Creation of which we are a part.
We see in the light that we are not, never were, never will be separate from the One who gives us life. So we now summon our best, most powerful magics and blessings.
Feel in your body the turning. Know with your skin the sweet changing that heralds a more healthful, balanced, right relation with all that lives here with us on our Mother Earth.
Understand in your gut, in your heart, in your mind, and sweet animal body how intelligent, benevolent, loving exchange brings wealth to all.
We can learn how to take only what we need, to be generous with each other, and to end forever the blight of greed. Enough is enough.
Know in your body, feel in the soles of your feet how everything is already changing. Despite the ugly death throes of the paradigms of greed and war, our love, our work, our hand-to-hand, spirit-to-spirit creation of community and cultures of sustainability, beauty and comfort are all coming alive within and around us.
Send the light and the love of your intention out to join with the light from others everywhere.
At this most quiet moment of the deepest dark, lit now by your ring of bright candles, see, sense and receive the Divine One’s gifts of courage and joy for you, and the abiding, eternal Love that supports you, always.
After a period of meditation, song, stories, and/or affirmations, extinguish each candle in reverse order, from tonight’s to last week’s to the second, and then the first one.
So may our words and desires be fulfilled for the good of all.