Welcome to all who come in peace!
In a year that has been as difficult as any in our lifetimes, the Wheel of the Year turns at last. That means that, as the longest night of the year approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time once more to meet together every Sunday through Yule (and/or Christmas) for our annual Advent Sun Wreath Circle, (or Yule Prayer-Spell, if you prefer).
If you have been a regular visitor here, you know that starting in late November, I invite everyone, regardless of their spiritual path, to participate in a virtual prayer circle, or spell weaving.
Since 2004, it’s been my honor to facilitate this quiet journey to the Winter Solstice with prayer, gratitude, and sacred observance.
This is an advent practice for all faiths, creeds, paths, traditions, and allegiances. All seekers, both spiritual and secular, are embraced here.
On every populated continent on our planet, in every time zone, we gather each week in prayer and unity. Here, in this annual practice, our separations of time and geography melt away, and we become a living Circle of Love.
And if ever we needed such a skill and such reassurance, it is this year.
Now entering our 16th year, these ceremonies have been conducted in the privacy of our homes, or with our most intimate faith groups — all with the certainty that there are thousands of others simultaneously celebrating with us.
And so, in this year of heartbreak and isolation like none of us have ever faced, I would invite everyone to recognize how our years of practice have taught us to attune to the presence of one another, without technology, and regardless of location or even clock time.
Every Sun Day before Yule and/or Christmas, all across the face of our Earth, there will be thousands who are with you in spirit. One of the subtle miracles of the Sun Wheel Advent Ceremony is what it feels like to realize you are a part of hundreds of concurrent ceremonies, each one unique, and staggered across time zones, yet happening together in the space that is no space, and the time that is no time.
Thus, we are all present together, hand in hand, soul to soul.
So, come all who wish to unite with us.
Accompany us, if you will, on this journey into the velvety night of the year; then kindle with us the growing light that some call the Child of Promise.
Inspired by them, for many years I’d found this annual ceremony to be a gentle, inclusive, yet very powerful tradition. I began sharing it on my first tiny website back in 2004 and have adapted and published it each year since, with an exponentially growing number of participants around the world.
Over the years, my readers have told me that it has become a very meaningful and beloved practice for them and their families, too. Some have also noted that it feels like we are doing “The Wave,” as you may see at sporting events, except that we are offering our joyful, globe-circling prayers.
It’s very simple. You only need a wreath and five candles. Starting on SUNDAY, Nov. 29, around dusk wherever you live, you’ll light one candle, spend time in quiet or prayerful observance, then extinguish the flame. The next week you will light the first candle, and then a second one.
And so on, each Sunday, until the final candle on Winter Solstice, Christmas, or both.
The real power, besides the vital importance of making quiet time for observance, is in the knowledge that across the globe, hundreds, and probably thousands, are doing the same thing with you.
This ritual may remind you of the Christian tradition of lighting candles around an Advent wreath. That practice is probably descended from older Pagan observances that marked the advent of the Winter Solstice. (Advent simply means “the coming of”).
You can easily adapt this to be in harmony with your own dreams, desires, and beliefs. I encourage you to join the countless families and individuals throughout the world, Christians and non- , and to share it with your friends and beloveds. (Scroll down for some specific suggestions).
Even Though We May Be Distant, We Are Together
There is much to give thanks for, for if you are reading this, you are still in the land of the living.
But you don’t need me to list the horrors of 2020. As I wrote last year, “this year’s turning feels apocalyptic in its scope.” And so it has been.
Yet even now, as we make this annual Wheel of the Year journey towards the still point of the deepest dark, we enter into a sacred time-out-of-time. As our most ancient ancestors knew, this is a magical pause between the exhale and the fresh inhale, where possibility, consciousness, and the epoch itself is stirring with both endings and new beginnings.
Thus, although climate catastrophe, pandemic disaster, geopolitical upheaval, and more weigh our hearts with the darkest of shadows, we stand nevertheless at a crossroads of infinite hope. Looking within and to one another, we recognize our commonality.
Despite the horrifying death throes of the Old Aeon, we can see that there is something more beautiful, more authentic, more brave and right unfolding at the same time.
And we, my dear ones, are the very ones who are birthing that vision. Yes, slowly; as slowly as the incremental steps from Solstice light to Solstice dark, barely noticeable on any given date, yet ultimately as different as night and day.
So once again this year, together each week, let us in perfect faith and love spark and tend the flames of this necessary and inevitable rebirth.
From our homes all across the sweet body of our Grandmother Gaia, holding sacred space with one another, it is time to prepare. Starting Nov. 29, we will begin to make our final descent into the dark of the year. And in our re-emergence together, our vision will open to a new kind of light.
It has become clear that we are undergoing a profound surrender, initiation, and transformation. Western culture’s 3,000 year old myths of separation, spiritual exile, and despair, plus all of the systems that hold those illusions in place, are crumbling.
Together, let us be the builders and bringers of the awakening that reveals how profound interconnectedness is our truest Nature.
We therefore weave our prayers around the globe, with our wreaths honoring the great Circle that is the Divine One. Lighting our weekly candles with our awareness on the four quarter points, or whatever you name as holy, we anchor our vision into manifestation.
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 upon 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, we care for the Earth, Her resources, and all Her beings.
So mote it be.
Many Paths, All In Harmony
This ceremony is possibly the most familiar to Christians, since many denominations practice Advent ceremonies for Christmas, both in the home, and at church. But there are perhaps as many ways to celebrate this as there are family traditions. It is completely up to you!
For instance, it can work beautifully for Pagans and Earth-based religions, counting down to Solstice by calling in the four Elements, or Directions, and then Center. Or you may wish for each candle to represent a beloved Goddess and/or God.
Several Buddhists, too, have told me they observe this practice each year, especially those who are in families of mixed faiths. They may light a candle each week to honor the The Five Skandhas; or perhaps the Four Noble Truths, with the final candle representing liberation.
Hindus might wish to choose sacred elements of the Vedanta for each candle.
Muslim participants could have the candles signify the Five Pillars of Islam.
Jews can imbue each candle to represent the five books of the Torah — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Non-religious attributions can center on what you may feel are the five most important qualities for a worthwhile life, or your favorite philosophical values. One family I am fond of has used the candles to represent the “Five Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Another participant simply picks a favorite cause or charity for each candle, and gives thanks week by week for the work each does, including sending them a donation.
The possibilities are limitless, and can be adapted to any spiritual or intellectual path. The point is our unity, our intention, and our awareness of being a part of a huge, wildly diverse, heart-opening, globe-encircling gathering.
Honoring the Ebb, Let There Be Peace
This year, with great attentiveness, let us begin by being still. Let us honor the ebbing of the light. On each night of our ceremony, we shall together descend into the beautiful and needful dark. May it feed our roots, inspire our dreams, cradle our weariness, and know our sorrows.
May it offer us profound respite, so we may savor this time for reflection, peace, and potential — so needed in our shrill, frightened, artificially garish human-made world.
With our words and every action, we share our sacred gifts of tender care for those we do not know. We shelter and protect the unaware and lost. We reveal our brilliance to illuminate and destroy systems of fear, domination, hate, and deception.
And with our interconnected weaving in this prayer working, we assist in the Great Turning.
We aid and embody the shift of our human family, without exceptions, to a more just, compassionate, and fruitful affinity with all the worlds, and the Divine Good.
Each week, I will post specific suggestions about that Sunday’s candle meanings, and offer a bit of lore for its traditions.
For Our Friends in the Southern Hemisphere
I also want to once again make sure that all our friends south of the Equator, who are preparing to celebrate Summer Solstice, know they are needed.
As you get ready for your longest day of the year I urge you to join us in this rite, lending us your warmth, your brilliance, and helping us to keep our love fires blazing.
Please know that we are sending you our love in return.
Join with us, and light your Solstice candles (perhaps around a Summer wreath of herbs and flowers), and shine your dazzling hearts upon this work with us. For you, too, are the light-keepers and an integral part of this weaving.
You are the living proof of Summer’s promise.
Thus we enact our support and respect for each others’ traditions.
As mentioned, your Sun Wheel is simply a small wreath, the sacred Circle of the Divine Feminine (or the One(s) to whom you are devoted). It can be laid horizontally upon a table, altar, or other special place.
Evergreens are a nice touch, but it can be of holly berries, or grapevine, or whatever materials you have on hand. The wreath should have four candles around its periphery, and a fifth candle in the Center.
The colors and type of candles are up to you. The Christian Advent wreath traditionally is made with three candles of violet, and a fourth, which is lit the last Sunday before Christmas, of rose pink.
In some churches, the pink candle is the third one, and some also add a center pillar candle of white, which is lit on Christmas or Christmas Eve.
To be in harmony with other family members that are not Christian, or who belong to different denominations, I suggest you agree on using five candles, and the colors can be your choice.
One possibility for non-Christians is to use five simple white candles (tea candles perhaps), or a yellow candle for East (Air), a red candle for South (Fire), a blue candle for West (Water), and a green candle for North (Earth) with a fifth candle in the center for Spirit (Mystery). A black, white or purple candle would be a good choice, but let your heart be your guide.
The idea is that each Sunday before Solstice, ideally on the threshold between day and night, at sunset wherever you live, you have a quiet ceremony to light a new candle. The first Sunday (Nov. 29), you will light one candle only, the one for East. The next Sunday, Dec. 6, we again light the East (first) Candle, plus add the South (second) candle, and so on.
By the way — even if you miss the beginning week(s), don’t worry. You can join in any time!
Be aware that, based on the vast response I’ve gotten over the years, and thanks to the Internet’s viral power, there are now almost certainly thousands of other people, in different time zones around the world, who are participating in this with you. As the shadow of night rolls across the face of our globe, they gather in harmony with you and your family.
All of our hearts are joined in this quiet act of both acknowledging the dark, and then energizing our power as we light a candle of hope and renewal.
As you focus your will, remember that we are not fighting, fearing, or trying to defeat the dark. Darkness is necessary; without the dark, there are no dreams, no healing sleep, no deep growth that is necessary to thrive. So each year, we very intentionally honor the dark, as well. Thus, from within the sacred dark, we arise with the returning Light.
Gaze a while upon the dancing flame and call upon the powers of the week’s Element or Gift of Spirit, to bless and protect the coming Sun Child, and the renewal of Life. When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.
Please watch my blog for the Nov. 29 post, when I will post specific suggestions for our first night. As mentioned before, every Sunday I’ll have brief updates and additional ideas.
Announcements will also be forthcoming on social media, and if you are on Facebook, you are welcome to join our Community Group where everyone is encouraged to chat, post photos, and share.
Speaking of which, please share this invitation with everyone you know. There is great power in our numbers and the more, the merrier!
Thank you, dear hearts, for 16 years of your participation and loving energy!