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 Wheel Prayer Circle.
Starting TONIGHT, Nov. 29, we will gather at our homes every Sunday evening through Yule (and/or Christmas) at dusk. As night falls across the Earth, thousands will be joining our circle, with prayer and celebration.
(I lost track at six hundred-something a few years ago, and that was before much social media was happening. Plus, while I was never good at math, I do understand exponential growth).
If you have been a regular reader of mine, you might know that this is our sixteenth 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.
It is a bitter fact that this is the first year that Waverly, too, is no longer on this side of the veil. So it is in fond remembrance of her as teacher, writer, priestess, and friend that many of us will be celebrating this year.
Since 2004, I have been carrying the tradition forward via my own website, adding a few of my own embellishments, and then embracing the many inspirations and ideas that you, the global celebrants, have added.
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.
So…A Few Words About 2020
Wow. What a year this has been. Day after day, we have been blasted with worsening horrific news, grinding away at our faith in one another, our hopes for the future, and even our respect for our own species.
Since late February/early March we have all been exiled from our everyday relationships. The faces we love come to us from somewhere else, in a Brady Bunch box image on our devices. We cannot hug our friends, or hold the hands of our loved ones, not even as they die.
And all throughout, the specter of global climate catastrophe bears down on the grim body count that has become so astronomical, we are in danger of becoming numb to it.
Who could have ever imagined that from last year’s hopeful gathering, we would now be in this nightmare scenario?
Every year, our world grows dark. The hours of daylight dwindle, and there are many places that only barely see the Sun before night cloaks all once again.
It would be easy to believe that the dark will get worse and worse, and snuff out all life as it goes on forever — all recent evidence points to it. Ever since June, one could truthfully argue, the sunlit hours have diminished, and now, they are so minuscule, there are lands in this world where the Sun no longer rises at all.
But as our ancient ancestors long ago realized, that is the way of sacred, cyclical Nature. There is a moment when the decline pauses.. and a waiting.. and then..
A miracle! A moment or two more daylight. And then a few more. And then more, adding up to hours, marching to the radiant climax in June again (all this in the Northern Hemisphere. Below the equator the same thing happens, only in the opposite timing).
And so, my beloveds, as one of my spirit guides, Robert Hunter, wrote long ago, “This darkness got to give.”
It is a promise, a truth, a golden fact that we can count on, no matter what. This year, more than any other, I think this is a shining thread to weave into our purpose.
By this candlelight, we stand for the Light that cannot die. With our prayers, we embrace the most ancient Divine One(s) whose name is Love. With our hands and hearts joined, now crossing an irrevocable 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. Additional thoughts can be found in the general information page here.
Inspiration for Tonight’s First Lighting (Nov. 29)
Tonight, around sunset, gather with your loved ones, or alone if that is your circumstance (and yet you are NOT alone). 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, intellect, information, understanding, communication. Air is the first breath of Life, and its sacred magical symbol is the Sword.
For some Christian denominations, the first candle on the Advent wreath represents Hope. Others consider the first candle to be in honor of Isaiah and the other seers and prophets of the Bible, who promised the coming of the Savior.
Note how this is in harmony with any Solstice celebrants in your household, who may see their first candle as the Element of Air — imagination, visions, song, story, the mind.
We all can agree: in the beginning, was the Word. The Song. The Breath of Life.
A Few More 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, the “fake news” makers have graduated from being a wildly successful propaganda enterprise to a death machine that is cruelly destroying countless lives.
There were the final words of George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” There are millions of COVID-19 victims, whose sense of smell fails, and then their lungs. All of this is about Air, sacred breath of Life.
If you are with others, you might have a discussion about this.
But then stop.
Inhale deeply. Exhale and release. What a miracle!
Allow some silence. On your slowing breath, inhaling and pausing, and then exhaling, allow those images and concerns to dissolve, for indeed, they are thoughts only. So. Many. Thoughts.
Turn your attention back to the here and now. Breathe, soften, and 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 with profound awareness and gratitude 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 belief?
Bask in its beautiful light, giving thanks in whatever ways your heart speaks to you.
Be aware that there are thousands of other people, in many different time zones, around the world, who are participating with you. Maybe not at the exact instant your candle flares into Life, but even then, there will be many. Of this, I am certain, thanks to the massive correspondence I have received and the beautiful way this has spread around the globe.
And if you can’t do this at sunset wherever you live, do it when you can, knowing that as the shadow of night falls across our Mother Earth, someone somewhere, in some other time zone, is watching the twilight and gazing at their candle right along with you.
But even more, know that all of us are joining in a sacred Time Out of Time. This enables our powerful act of unity as we enter the enfoldment of the dark. Together, we step out of the ordinary time-stream, and into Stillness.
Together we can gaze with unflinching compassion at our fears. Thus, we shall bless the fertile, necessary night; we will accept the shadowy, silent Mystery of the unknown.
Acknowledging this, we are in unity as we light our candles.
As you do so, 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. We are preparing the way.
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. See how the frayed and broken gifts of Air and Truth can be mended. Let this 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.