We are a Circle
Within a Circle
With no beginning
And never ending…
~ by Deborah and Rick Hamouris
Once again it’s time to begin our annual Advent candle lighting, also known as the Solstice Sun Wreath Prayer Circle.
Starting TONIGHT, Nov. 25, we will gather at our homes every Sunday evening through Yule (and/or Christmas) at dusk. As night falls across the Earth, hundreds will be joining our circle, with prayer and celebration.
If you have been a regular reader of mine, you might know that this is our fourteenth anniversary! The numbers joining us have doubled multiple times, making it now a huge, truly world-wide event.
So please join us each week, and please tell your friends and loved ones. You can’t do it wrong and you can start ANY time. So if you have to miss it this week, you can still start with us next week, or any time until it’s over.
The underlying energy of this practice is, by its very nature, inclusive and welcoming to all beliefs, traditions, and philosophies. (Suggestions can be found on the main page).
The Basic Idea
The original source for this particular adaptation was the late Helen Farias, founder of The Beltane Papers magazine, and then it was continued by Waverly FitzGerald in her School for the Seasons teachings.
Since 2004, I have been carrying the tradition forward via my own website, adding a few of my own embellishments.
This ceremony is simply an adaptation of the more familiar Christian practice of lighting candles on an Advent wreath.
All you need is a wreath, five candles, and a peaceful time-out each Sunday evening from now until Winter Solstice, and/or Christmas, depending on your preferred climax of the celebration. Of course, you can make it as elaborate or simple as you prefer.
Each Sunday, you will light a candle that is symbolic of some attribute, element, or vision, as we go into the deepest darkness of the year, and prepare for the birth of the Child of Promise, the standing still moment of Solstice, the reawakening of the Light.
Tonight, it will be one candle only. Next week you will light first the candle from Week 1, then the second candle. And so on, until Solstice night, or Christmas Eve (or both!), when you light the fifth, final candle, depending on your preference. More suggestions and info can be found here.
Our Intention for 2018
Holding sacred space with one another, across Grandmother Gaia, we make our final descent into the dark of the year. And in our re-emergence together, let our vision open to a new kind of light.
Let it enable us to see beyond the crumbling of the 3,000 year old myths of separateness, exile, and innate wrongness.
Together, we will behold and invigorate the profound interconnectedness that is our truest Nature.
By this candlelight, we stand for the Light that is always Whole. With our prayers, we embrace the most ancient Divine One(s) whose name is Love. With our hands and hearts joined, now at this threshold of change, we invoke the irrepressible dawning of healing, grace, and rebirth.
With unfailing devotion, with all our courage, from within and without, for the Earth, Her resources, and all Her beings, so mote it be.
Naturally, you can adapt this with your own words and to your own vision, but it is best if we are in basic harmony together.
Tonight’s First Candle Lighting (Nov. 25)
This year’s calendar gives us a bit of a complication. If you are counting down to Solstice, you start tonight. If you are counting down to Christmas ONLY, you don’t begin until NEXT Sunday.
For those who would like to observe both holidays, start tonight and then you can simply re-light the last candle for Christmas.
Here’s how to begin:
Gather with your loved ones, or alone, tonight around sunset. Ground and center yourself, or create sacred space in whatever way is right for your practice.
The first candle may represent the Element of Air: knowledge, perception, information, understanding, communication.
You may wish this candle to represent other faiths, so it could be one of the four Noble Truths of Buddhism, or the first book of the Torah, or perhaps a God or Goddess to whom you are devoted. There are so many possibilities!
I will save discussing the Christian meaning of the first candle until next week, since it would not be lit in that tradition until then.
A Few Thoughts:
It is important to first acknowledge the dissonance and conflict currently affecting this Element.
In order to bring true healing, we must see with clear, steadfast eyes what is true. We must allow ourselves to feel the pain of the world, even if it breaks our hearts open. Turning away from unpleasant realities makes us complicit with the suffering being created.
From pollution in the air we breathe, to bitter politics and self-righteous opinions, to spying and manipulation of global communications, think about how fearful perceptions distort our allegiances, what we see, what we believe, how we make choices. We pass judgments, we are told and sometimes share hurtful stories about one another.
The narratives being sold by the media and that we share with each other can muddy our clarity and augment our fears. This year, we have even seen the rise of deliberately “fake news” as a successful propaganda enterprise.
If you are with others, you might have a discussion about this.
Then, allow some silence. On your breath, inhaling and exhaling, allow those images and concerns to dissolve, for indeed, they are thoughts only. Turn your attention back to the here and now. Be fully present and begin to see, know, and understand the potential power of this first candle.
With clarity and compassion, ignite the spark that will awaken the candle of East, dawn, and Hope. Let its flame illuminate with the Word, which is the divine promise given to all.
When your candle is lit, experience a profound awareness and gratitude for your own breath — the first, last, and most vital gift of life. Feel your inhale and exhale — your life-long companion, as it helps you relax, become alert, and aware. Let your breath sigh, or laugh, or sing, or pray.
As you gaze at your candle, think quietly of all it represents to you. If you have words, Bible verse, a prayer, a chant, 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.
Be aware that, based on the many, many emails I’ve gotten over the years, there are certainly hundreds, very probably thousands of other people, in many different time zones, around the world, who are participating with you.
All of us are joined in this act of acknowledging the dark. We gaze with unflinching compassion at our fears; we bless the fertile, necessary night; we accept the shadowy, silent Mystery of the unknown.
Acknowledging this, we are in unity as we light our candles.
As you do this, send your energy and intentions for empowering and welcoming the birth of the Light. Consider all the meanings that “Light” has for you – in your own personal life, for the good of our community, and our planet as well.
Gaze a while upon the dancing flame and call upon the powers of the week’s Element or Gift of Spirit, to heal and bless. Let it illuminate you, sparking your own spirit.
Now, the Advent begins. We look for the coming Sun Child, the renewal of Life, the attainment, for all humanity, of Awareness.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.
See you next week.