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.
Caitlín Matthews, Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings
Ring the bells of joy and blessings! Now we join together 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 said, as we lit our Sun Wheel, we are the bringers of the dawn, the light bearers of hope. We have invoked the irrepressible dawning of healing, grace, and rebirth. (More about tonight’s ceremony below).
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
The precise moment of the 2019 Solstice arrives on the East coast of the U.S. tonight, Dec. 21, at 11:20pm, or December 22, 2019 at 04:19 GMT.
At this moment, the Sun will move into the sign of Capricorn (by tropical astrology reckoning). 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 a pause — the word “solstice” comes from the Latin meaning “Sun standing still” — the days will begin to grow longer and the hours of darkness will decrease. We may not notice for a while, but by Imbolc, in six weeks, it will be obvious, and yet more cause for celebration.
By the way — best wishes to all our friends who live below the Equator! You are celebrating your Summer Solstice this merry day! Happy Litha to you!
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, Sí an Bhrú, known in English as Newgrange, is a beautiful Neolithic site in Ireland. It 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 ancient people known by the Hopi tribes as the Hisatsinom, whose descendants are today’s Pueblo people.
In much of Asia, this observance is 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 countless rural and indigenous people who depend on 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
Tonight at dusk, or, if you prefer, at the moment of Solstice, we will complete our advent Sun Wheel magical working, unless you are observing Christmas. If so, you’ll light (or re-light) your final candles tomorrow (Sunday the 22nd) and then on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
But now, gather with all who are near and dear to you, including all of us — the thousands of other participants in this ceremony around the world. If you like, you may also invite your beloved dead, as this pause of the Sun is a holy time of power — the veils between the worlds open.
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.
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 final Candle of Center, which would be for Spirit, the Aethers, the Cauldron, or Mystery. Or you may wish it to simply represent Centering, 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 uncertain future may hold in store, with our light, our prayers, and our intention, we have joined together in love.
As dark as our world may be right now, our Grandmother Gaia teaches us Her eternal truth: day by day, little by little, no matter how closely despair may nibble at our heels, no matter how fierce the raging, approaching storms of Winter may prove, the Light has not died.
Watch now, and hold fast. For we, as women and men and families of spirit, have woven together a mighty alignment to that bright promise. On this night we are given the ancient reminder of Life’s insurmountable triumph.
Even our friends in the Southern Hemisphere have helped support this powerful global prayer and magic. Together let us all bid welcome to the Child of Light.
Tonight, 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 harmony with the most ancient rhythms of the Earth’s wisdom.
The Circle is complete and the Center is ablaze. The Divine Birth is here! All of existence celebrates this miracle.
Ring the bells of joy and blessings!
The darkening turns, and will be gone.
On this night, we fulfill our promise.
Throw open now the Gates of Dawn.
Ring your Solstice bells!
Write down on paper all you wish to say farewell forever to and toss it, along with your old Yule greenery from last year, into your blazing hearth.
Go outside and shout, drum, light your bonfires, give offerings and thanks to the Beloved Ones!
Make merry and rejoice! We have united together across the worlds, across time, each with one another, and with Love Herself.
Thank you to one and all who have shared your magic, good energy, and loving prayers in our rites this very special 15th anniversary of our global Sun Wreath ceremony.
May the Lord and the Lady bring you renewal, mirth, and gladness!
Dedicated in loving memory of our dear Waverly FitzGerald, beloved Priestess of Seasons, archivist of Ancestral lore treasures, and friend to so many.
Blessed may her journey be. What is remembered lives.