Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
Tonight, Dec. 9, is the third night of our Solstice Sun-Wheel Prayer Circle if you are counting down to Winter Solstice and for those who might also be counting down to Christmas also.
If you are counting down to Christmas only, this is your second candle lighting.
As I have explained in past weeks, this is simply because this year, there is an extra Sunday between Solstice and Christmas.
For folks who are honoring both holidays, you will just light your last candle again for Christmas.
In any case, please know this global gathering is intended for all — all faiths and philosophies. The Christian church calls it the Advent wreath, which was simply handed down from much older Pagan Advent celebrations.
Even if you are neither Pagan nor Christian, I urge you to participate anyway! Simply assign each candle a meaning that is important to your faith or world view (you need not even be religious!). You can find some suggestions here.
And to see our intention for this year, you can visit here.
This is the prelude to a moment that has been celebrated since prehistoric times, by people of every culture. The dawning of the Winter Solstice and the re-birth of the Light is coming to all beings across the Northern Hemisphere, no matter what they believe about it!
This ceremony uses a wreath and five candles, and is intended for all spiritual paths. The Christian church calls it the Advent wreath, which was simply handed down from much older Pagan celebrations, marking the days preceding Winter Solstice. (As most Christian scholars know, the birth of Christ was probably in the Springtime, but the tradition of holding the feast day around the Winter Solstice became a way to increase its popularity).
And please remember – you can join us any time.
So even if you have missed the first two candle lightings, no problem! I have provided links to the first two weeks further down this post. This also means you can still invite your friends and loved ones to join us!
Please do, so that our prayers and our magic circle the globe in every time zone and continent. There is great power in our numbers, and the more, the merrier!
What If I Live in the Southern Hemisphere?
I believe you are a vitally important part of this work, because you are preparing to celebrate your Summer Solstice. We need your sunny blessings and warmest gifts to aid our renewal.
Perhaps you would like to use a wreath of flowers and fruit, instead of evergreens. But in any case, please join us at sunset, wherever you are, too!
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.
Remember that you are joined in this sacred circle by men, women, and children of many paths, from many lands. Over the years, people have told me that this 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 — very probably thousands — who are participating with you.
We may be celebrating at the exact moment as you, or ahead of, or behind you, in real time. But we are all in the 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, light your first candle (either from Nov. 25 or last week, depending on your choice of countdowns). 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?
Counting Down to Christmas ONLY: The Second Candle
For people only counting down to Christmas, tonight is the 2nd candle. In many denominations, it may represent Love.
Some churches call it the Bethlehem candle, referring to the gifts of hospitality and the preparations of body and spirit, for receiving the Divine One. Other traditions consider it to be in reverence for the gift of the sacred scriptures and the Word.
Counting Down to Solstice
This will be your third candle lighting. If you are using the Elements as your guide, this candle is for the Element of Water.
Many Pagan traditions consider that Water is the Guardian associated with the direction of West. It empowers our emotions, dreams, intuition, empathy, and compassion. West is sacred to Autumn and the setting Sun.
Let us give thanks for all the ups and downs of our emotions. They can be tumultuous at times and strangely prescient. They open our hearts and sometimes break them, bringing cleansing tears and joyful laughter. What a sacred gift it is to feel our feelings, even when it hurts!
As you gaze upon this wondrous addition of light to the wreath before you, consider also the life-giving blessings of Water. See in your mind’s eye the beautiful rains when they come gently, in balanced abundance.
Give thanks for the incredible gift of turning on a tap at your home, and having clean, pure, hot and cold water pour forth. Such luxury was beyond the imagination of gilded pharaohs and emperors of old!
Remember Mama Ocean in your thanksgiving – the Mother of us all, the ever-restless, changing, flowing source of all life on our blue planet.
Know that the river of blood, tears, and joy is a deep, ancient one that defines our humanity. It gives us the motivation and possibility of the true, deep, lasting transformation we so desperately need. May its light heal the fear, the hurt, and all of our troubled waters.
Gaze now at the dancing flames of your candles. Isn’t it astonishing how much light they create?
Tonight, it becomes truly clear that a great birthing is on the way! The dawn of the Light is getting brighter and we can be assured it is now inevitable. Let us anticipate its approach with joy, passion, and wisdom.
In alignment with our intention, you may wish to make a promise or vow regarding how you will serve the gifts of tonight’s candle.
May the powers of these Elements; or Gifts of Spirit; or, as Hanukkah continues, the books of the Torah; or the Four Noble Truths — or whatever you have dedicated each candle to represent — weave together, as we ourselves are joining together, to illuminate and bless our world.
When you are at peace, and the time feels right, going backwards from Water, to Fire, to Air, (or from Love to Hope), gently extinguish your candles.
May our prayers be fulfilled for the good of all.