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 Ceremony.
Starting TONIGHT, Nov. 27, we will gather at our homes every Sun Day evening through Yule (and/or Christmas) at dusk. Now in our 18th year, thanks to YOUR word of mouth (and keyboard!), our circle has grown exponentially.
So as night falls across the Earth, I know for a fact there will be thousands joining our circle, staggered in time zones and across every continent, but united with prayer and celebration.
Please join us each week, and please invite 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.
(Or if you are traveling or have other challenges, use a ribbon for your wreath circle, and battery-powered tealights for your candles).
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 the late Waverly FitzGerald in her School for the Seasons teachings. May both of these good women be nearby in our rites, for they are dearly missed.
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. And it adapts well to every faith or philosophy.
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 re-light first tonight’s candle, then add the second candle. And so on, until Solstice eve, or Christmas Eve (or both!), when you light the fifth, final candle, depending on your preference. More suggestions and info can be found here.
And if you would like to share your photos, poetry, music, and so on, and if you are on Facebook, we have a very lively group. But I also very much welcome your “Luminous Sparks” in the comments below.
Suggested Intention for 2022
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 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 or even change it to your own vision. But it is important that we are in basic harmony together. Additional thoughts can be found in the general information page here.
Inspiration for Tonight’s First Lighting (Nov. 27)
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.
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 see their first candle as the Element of Air — imagination, visions, song, story, the mind. In the beginning, was the Word.
A Few Thoughts:
Before you ignite your flame, stand a moment in the twilight. You might wish to acknowledge the shadows affecting whatever you have assigned this candle. If it represents Hope, for instance, you might give recognition to the tendrils of despair that can creep into our hearts during these deeply challenging, complex times.
Or if your first candle stands for the Element of Air, you might see in your mind’s eye the ways that truth has been twisted and subverted; to take heed of how necessary it is for us to see with clear, steadfast eyes what is true.
As Joanna Macy teaches, 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. If you are gathering with others tonight, you might have a discussion about this.
Welcome 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.
Reach out with your inner senses, and be astonished and joyful at the profound power of knowing countless hundreds may be also lighting their candles with you AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Up and down the longitude of nightfall, other souls gaze at their newly lit candle, joining their holy breath, prayer, and awareness right along with you.
As you gaze at your candle, think quietly of all it represents to you. If you have words, a 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, non-faith, or faith?
Bask in its beautiful light, giving thanks in whatever ways your heart speaks to you.
Besides those who are with you at this moment of your lighting, there are thousands of other people, flung round the world, who are participating with us. From New Zealand and Australia, across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and round again, 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.