Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tonight, Dec. 4, we celebrate the second Sun Day of our Advent Solstice Sun-Wheel prayer circle.
Advent simply means the coming of. So every Sun Day between now and Solstice or Christmas (or other Winter holiday you celebrate), people around the world are joining together wherever they live to celebrate and prepare for the coming rebirth of the Light.
All you need is a wreath with four candles in a circle, plus a fifth candle in the center. Although some of y’all are choosing to create your own family variations (and that is perfectly fine, too), the original idea was for this to be a wreath, a sacred Circle, honoring the Divine Feminine, and the circular nature of the Wheel of the Year.
The candles can all be white, or they can be colored to represent the Elemental Directions, or whatever you prefer. You might also like to use beeswax, soy, or other natural candles, since paraffin candles emit toxic materials.
In the Christian traditions, three of the candles are usually purple (blue is also popular, in order to to differentiate Advent’s candles from the Lent season). In addition, there is usually a pink candle for the third lighting (next week), and the fifth, final candle, representing Christ, is traditionally white.
Please Note: Even if you missed out last week, it does not matter. You can begin any Sun Day, since we go back and re-light the previous candles from prior weeks. Please join us — your energy and good wishes are both welcome and needed.
To read the particulars about what you need to do to join in this powerful prayer circle, including our intention for this year, click here.
The gist is that tonight, preferably at sunset (but more importantly, a time when you can make space for some serenity), take a few quiet moments to be fully present as you stand before your Sun Wheel wreath or altar.
Turn off the lights, and absorb the gifts of the dark’s quiet depths. Allow it to close in, marking the end of this day. Slow your breath, find your center, come to balance and peace.
Re-lighting the First Candle
When you are ready, you are first going to light the candle that you lit last week (or, if you missed last week, this is why you can jump right in!).
While I am primarily going to address this for working with the Directional Elements, we also warmly welcome our Christian friends.
Across Christendom, the first Advent candle from last week is usually associated with prophecy, particularly the hope promised in the Book of Isaiah.
For Earth spirituality participants, the first candle might be the candle for Air or East.
(Remember that if you scroll down the main page, you can find additional suggestions for Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, secular humanists, agnostics and atheists, and so on).
As you light your candle, consider the fears and shadows that have to do with information, thoughts, imagination, our narratives, our judgments, notions about truth, communication, knowledge, and understanding. Think of the winds, the air we breathe, the health of our lungs, and the pollution and carbon emissions we are trying to eliminate.
Now, light the candle for East and see, know, and forgive the ways those types of distortion exist. See, with your flickering light, the polluting fogs, both external and internal, dispelling. Honor the great gift to us all at this time, of Hope.
Sense how it shall be, when the air is once more fresh and clean, free of virus, free of the toxins of our machinery. With your magical vision, see all living beings breathing deeply, with vibrant health. Envision the complete clearing away of the death and misery caused by pandemic, falsehoods, and pollution.
If you have a prayer, a chant, or a song to share aloud, it would be very appropriate, as these, too, are gifts of the Element of Air.
If not, simply focus on how this one candle changes the darkness to light in and of itself. That is our desire for our world. Notice how powerful it is to feel the wave of prayer and devotion from all the other hundreds of people at that moment who are also lighting their first candles.
And the even bigger wave of the thousands of celebrants across the globe, as night overtakes the daytime where they live. For they, too, have or will join you in this time-out-of-time that is our Circle.
Bask in your beautiful light, giving thanks in whatever ways your heart speaks to you. Send out healing for those concerns you have thought of.
The Shadows of Fire
Next, gaze at the second candle.
In Christian traditions, this candle often represents the Bible, the principle of knowledge, or the Manger in Bethlehem. It is also known as the Candle of Preparation.
If you are Christian, you might consider: how have conflicts over the Bible and its interpretations brought anger, hate, or grief to your faith?
Also, as you know, in the story of the Christ’s birth, there was no room for the expectant couple at the inn. Instead, the only quarters available were in an animal shed, with a feed-box for their newborn baby.
What present-day shadows now echo the Christmas story’s lessons of accommodation for those who seek refuge and shelter?
How do you embody kindness towards strangers, the open door of welcome, and the virtue of hospitality in accordance with your faith? Especially those whose situation others might harshly judge, like an unwed mother from another place, traveling with a young man who is not the baby’s father?
These matters can easily be interwoven with the Earth traditions, who may see the second candle as representing the Element of Fire, in its aspect as the element of hearth and hospitality.
Before lighting it, contemplate the meaning of Fire for you, and the shadows that might be ruled by Fire.
For example, Fire is energy, action, power, passion, creativity, and change. In what ways are these qualities being distorted, sparking fear or twisting into violence?
You might consider the geopolitical power struggles for domination; issues around global warming and the climate crisis; the wars being fought over places that yield fossil fuels; the resistance to change; or out-of-control growth.
And this year, again, we have seen staggering fire destruction, thanks to unprecedented drought, the climate emergency, and human destruction.
On a personal level, how do the distortions of Fire impact you? Does your job have a power hierarchy that stifles creativity or innovation?
Have you ever thought about the differences between “power over” and “power with?” Do you have anxiety about stepping up as a leader or creative person? Do you avoid needful change?
With clarity and compassion, as the dusk descends, notice how these fears prickle and affect you. Feel the ways that these dramas may have hurt you, your loved ones, and your community.
Burning Away the Dross, Feeding What Is Life
And then, using your focus as a magical tool, when you are ready, light your candle and gaze upon it. Combined with the first one, look how much brighter things are now! This is how we will see change happening in the coming year.
As you gaze upon it, feel the energy of how Fire cleanses, transforms, burns away what must be given up, while also feeding the life force. Our passion is referred to as our Fire, and we all experience physical desire as a flaming energy.
Fire is our creativity and the warmth of giving congenial welcome to others.
Fire warms and illuminates. Fire feeds us, and we feed the fires in our lives.
It is the gift of Prometheus, it is the home hearth of Hestia, the untameable brilliance of Sekhmet, and the sacred blessing of beloved Brigid.
Give thanks for the gift of the healing Fire in your life, for it is also the electrochemical stream that is the life force itself.
Fire brought the genesis of civilization. It is a critical delineation between humans and our wild forebears.
Visualize the ancestral bonfires lit upon ancient hilltops, signaling in times of need or celebration. Think of the hearths of your forebears, tended each night with quiet ceremony as protection for the families gathered round in warmth, fed and sheltered with love while icy winds were blasting outside.
That lineage of home fire is now given to you, for you are the living result of those countless familial hearthfires.
Know that our Fire candle tonight, being lit by so many others across your country and across the world, will re-align and heal the goodly power of Fire.
Celebrate the candles of Air and Fire and let them warm you. Move and dance with the flames, laugh with your beloveds.
Then, when you are ready, gently, reverently bid the second candle farewell and extinguish it, and then the first candle. Know that as you so say, so shall it be.
Blessings this night to one and all!