Tonight we all come together once more to celebrate the internationally beloved Annual Solstice Sun Wreath ceremony.
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. 26.
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, Dec. 3.
That’s why I am suggesting that, if you wish to accommodate both traditions, you can simply have an extra lighting of the 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!
To find out the general ideas about what you need to do to join in the festivities, click here. It is incredibly simple really, and takes very little time. Although I primarily write about the Pagan and Christian interpretations, this can be easily adapted to all of the world’s major religions and philosophies.
It’s the energy and meaning that come from your heart, not the esoteric complexity (although if you are into that, by all means, go for it!).
The Blessed Dark
At sunset in a darkened room, take a few quiet moments to be fully present as you stand before your wreath.
Then realize how you hold the ability in your hands to transform the dark into bright warm illumination. If you have words or a prayer song to share aloud, please do.
You might wish to consider, too, that you are joined in this sacred circle by men, women, and children of many faiths, many languages, from many lands. Over the years, people have told me that this realization is one of the most powerful components of this practice.
So you may wish to take a moment to open your awareness to the many hundreds of us who are participating with you. Actually, it is almost certainly thousands by now, since countless other blogs, social media pages, communities, and friends have shared this — far beyond the scope of my knowing.
We may be celebrating during the exact moment as you, or ahead of, or behind you, in “real” time. But we are simultaneously all in the eternal Circle, in our own liminal moment, as evening sweeps across the Earth.
Take a few moments to absorb the deep quiet of the dark. Give thanks for its time of gestation, the sweet blackness that holds and feeds our roots, the mystery that nurtures, the sleep that stills our weariness and gives space for our dreams.
Then, as the dusk deepens, with our intention in mind, light your first candle (from last week).
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? For Pagan participants, this might be the candle for Air or East.
As you light your candle, bask in its beautiful light, giving thanks in whatever ways your heart speaks to you.
Next, gaze at the unlit second candle.
Many of the Earth traditions, counting down to Solstice, may see the second candle as representing the Element of Fire, in its aspect as the element of hearth and hospitality.
Thus, let us contemplate the meaning of Fire and what Fire offers.
As we have been reminded in this difficult year, Fire can be profoundly destructive, as those who have lost loved ones, homes, and their livelihood because of the ravages of wildfires this year can attest.
And Fire represents our need as humans for warmth and light — which drives the never-ending quest for fossil fuels, in turn contributing to global climate change and war.
Tonight, you might acknowledge the shadow aspects. But then, turn your awareness to the gifts of Fire in your life.
Fire is the very essence of life — the electrochemical stream that is the life force itself.
It cleanses, transforms, burns away what must be given up in order to feed the life force. Passion is often referred to as our Fire, and we all experience physical desire as a flaming energy. Fire is our creativity, our welcoming hospitality. Fire feeds us, and we feed the fires in our lives.
It is the precious gift of Prometheus, it is the sacred blessing of Brighid.
You might 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 safety while icy winds blast outside.
If You Are Counting Down to Christmas ONLY
Welcome to all our families and friends who have begun the Christian 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 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, notice 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?
Bringers of Light
Know that our candles this night are being lit by others who have joined in this rite across the globe. Together we will chase the gloom, the dank, and the cold dark that have chilled our hearts this past year.
Gaze upon the flickering lights and realize how much brighter everything has become! This is how we will see change happening in the coming year.
Celebrate our light with song, stories, prayer, or silence. Let your Sun Wreath’s glow warm you in the many ways you and others who may be present wish to share.
Then at last, when you are ready, gently, reverently bid it farewell and extinguish the second candle, followed by the first candle.