Wordsmithing Magic from the Crossroads

Tonight We Begin the 2023 Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer for Advent

Personal photograph courtesy of Kris, Solstice wreath participant in 2016.

Photo courtesy of 2016 participant Kris

We are a Circle
Within a Circle
With no beginning
And never ending…
by Deborah and Rick Hamouris

As you may know from my newsletter and various social media posts, it’s time once again to join together starting tonight, and then every Sunday evening through Yule (and/or Christmas) for our annual Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer Circle.

If you have been a regular reader of mine, you know that beginning in late November, I invite everyone, regardless of your spiritual path, to join together in a virtual Advent prayer circle (or spell weaving, if you’d prefer to think of it like that).

This is our NINETEENTH anniversary! The numbers joining us have doubled multiple times, making it now a huge, truly global event.

So please join us each week, and please tell your friends and loved ones. The underlying energy of this practice is, by its very nature, inclusive and welcoming to all beliefs, traditions, and philosophies.

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 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.

For nineteen years now, I have been carrying the tradition forward, 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, which probably was the descendant of even more ancient, pre-Christian traditions, leading up to the still moment of Solstice.

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.

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.

The first week (today, if you are counting down to Solstice, or starting next Sunday, Dec. 3, if you are counting to Christmas only), we will light one candle only.

The next week you will light first the candle from Week 1, then the second candle. And so on, until Solstice night, or Christmas Eve, when you light the fifth, final candle, depending on your preference.

Human hands hold heart shaped burning candle against dark background

The Extra Lighting

This year’s countdown is complicated by the fact that there is an extra Sunday between Solstice and Christmas. So for those who are counting down to Winter Solstice, tonight (Nov. 26) is the first candle lighting. Our fifth, final candle will be lit Thursday, Dec. 21 (Solstice Night).

For Christians who are counting down to Christmas ONLY, your first candle will be lit next Sunday, Dec. 3, and your fifth, final candle is lit on Christmas.

For families that wish to celebrate both, my suggestion is to start tonight. Then, next week’s 2nd candle can represent the second lighting for the non-Christmas countdown, and the first lighting for those counting down to Christmas.

Each participant in your family or group can send out their prayers and envision the candle’s symbolism in any way they are moved to.

At Solstice, you’ll light the fifth candle, and then at Christmas, simply re-light it.

In the lighting ceremony, the candle can represent whatever quality you wish, so the tandem lighting really should not be a problem.

Why Are We Doing This?

This is the season of Advent, which is not a strictly Christian term, although it is the name given to this very important season of the church.

Advent simply means “to come,” so it can apply to the coming of the Christ child, or the coming of the year’s longest night and the assured revitalizing of the Light. Or whatever else you would like to set your intention towards.

We also honor the fertile, necessary endarkenment, while preparing for renewal and enlightenment.

For many of us, our faith — in life, or the Divine, or each other — is being tested like never before.

As we make our way to the end of the calendar year, the deepest dark of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are also preparing for that moment of stillness, when the Sun halts its descent, the Wheel of Time turns, and rebirth comes.

Yet even in the heart of the darkness, the light is never extinguished. The Child of Promise, the Gift of Love, the blessed renewal of life and hope returns.

There is tremendous power and solace in carving out a time of peace and sacred spaciousness in this often crazy, overwhelming holiday time.

But you will discover that the real enormity of this ritual lies in the visceral sense you will have, of all the many hundreds of others, up and down the face of the Earth as the shadow of night falls, who are joining in with you.

From every walk of life, all different ages, beliefs, languages and lands, you can feel the global wave of prayer and devotion you are joining and a part of. You will sense how, as your candle is extinguished, people to your west are just beginning to gather and light theirs, creating a wave of sparks and light that moves across the face of our Mother Earth.

Candle from Karen, 2016

Our Intention for 2023

You and your loved ones may come up with your own words and intention. Here is one suggestion:

From within the sacred dark, we shall arise with the returning Light.

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.

For Our Friends in the Southern Hemisphere

I invite you, also, to light your Solstice candles (perhaps on 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 stewards of the Light’s climax now, as it shines and warms, and you will be guiding it back to those of us in colder climes soon.

Tonight’s First Lighting (Nov. 26)

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, information, understanding, communication. The suit of the Tarot it represents is (usually) the suit of Swords: words, perception, attitude, thought.

It is important to acknowledge the dissonance and worry currently affecting this element.

From pollution in the air we breathe, to the spying and manipulation of global communications, to the doubts and disputes being raised about whether there can even be any such thing as “facts,” and “truth,” think about how fear distorts what we see, what we believe, how we make choices.

We pass judgments, we are told and sometimes share hurtful stories about one another.

We are being lied to and our information access is being manipulated by bad actors on a colossal scale not seen since the dark days of the Second World War.

If you are with your friends, family, or community, you might talk a while about these matters, and the chilling winds of subterfuge and ignorance now threatening free expression and the core values of our democracies.

Then, allow some silence. With your breath, inhaling and exhaling, begin to see, know, and forgive the ways those types of fear exist.Public domain free image Pixabay single candle

With clarity and compassion, consider how your own prejudices may have wounded you, like, perhaps, any ways that you have spoken untruths or unkindness. And then, still using your breath as a magical tool, let those fears and hurts be dispelled as you light your candle.

When it is lit, breathe into a profound awareness and gratitude for breath itself — this 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. If you are with loved ones, you might tell stories, speak of what you give thanks for, give honor to those who are dear to you, and why.

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.

When you are at peace, and the time feels right, gently extinguish your candle.

All Hearts Are Welcome

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 it works beautifully for Pagans, too, counting down to Solstice by calling in the four Elements, or Directions. It can work, too, for Buddhists, who might wish to light a candle each week to honor the The Five Skandhas, or perhaps the Four Noble Truths, plus the final candle representing liberation. Hindus might wish to choose sacred elements of the Vedanta for each candle.

Jews can imbue each candle to represent the five books of the Torah — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Muslims may wish to have the candles signify the Five Pillars of Islam.

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. The possibilities are limitless, and can be adapted to any spiritual or intellectual path.

Please, please — share this far and wide! The more, the mightier AND the merrier!

Blessed be!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kim Werfel November 26, 2023, 9:54 am

Thank you Beth! This is such a wonderful tradition, bringing a deeper, more meaningful ritual to honor and bring spiritual grace to the darkness of the solstice, and the return of the light. I look forward to it every year! Bright blessings to you! Xo

Beth November 26, 2023, 10:43 am

Kim! I am so delighted to see you, and even happier to know we are joining together in sacred space tonight. Thank you for being here. Much, much love, dear friend.

Kim Werfel November 26, 2023, 10:54 am

May all the love and light you take the time to create surround you dear Beth! Xoxo

Beth November 27, 2023, 10:50 am

Thank you..

nofixedstars November 26, 2023, 10:26 am

hoping to craft my version for this year’s participation this afternoon. thank you for stewarding this beautiful observance each year.

Beth November 26, 2023, 10:44 am

It is my deep honor. I love that people resonate with the quiet power of this practice. May it inspire and bless each of us for the long months ahead.

Sandy Place November 26, 2023, 10:37 am

I will be standing with you all tonight and through the Solstice. I have engaged for several years and love the thought of thousands upon thousands of others lighting their lights drawing the return of the light and all its hope. Thank you for supporting this gathering.
In love and light,
S

Beth November 26, 2023, 10:45 am

I just love it too, Sandy. Thank you for speaking up and letting us know you’re here. I am very much needing it this year, as are many of us, I suspect.

Blessings to you.

Michele November 26, 2023, 11:29 am

I’m looking forward more than ever to this weekly practice. I’ve had my candles arranged on the counter since Samhain! Today I will make a simple wreath, to bring the scent of cedar & fir into the house. Thank you so much for bringing us together for this virtual ceremony!

Beth November 26, 2023, 3:06 pm

Ah, Michele! I love that you have been ready, ready since Samhain! I hope you will enjoy foraging for the greenery and other embellishments for your wreath today.

And “see” you in a couple of hours. 🙂

Sidney November 26, 2023, 1:04 pm

Hello dearest Beth. Thank you once again for weaving us together in this beautiful ritual. I begin tonight. May the blessings of winter upon you – and us all. Much love to you – luminous one.

Beth November 26, 2023, 3:08 pm

Oh my dear sister Sidney. I am so glad we will be united in this ceremony. May the deep grace of the endarkenment be yours, my beloved. 💚

Sue King November 26, 2023, 1:57 pm

As always, thank you Beth for introducing me to this tradition some years ago (I forget how many ;o}). So very much looking forward to being part of this circle of light we share around the world. Blessings!

Beth November 26, 2023, 3:12 pm

Beloved Sue.. I was just so impressed with your gorgeous Goddess that you posted in the Facebook group. It will be such a pleasure to be together with you in ceremony soon.

And for those who do Facebook, please feel free to join our group. It’s private so you will have to answer a brief questionnaire, to screen out spammers, but otherwise it’s a lovely and rather lively gathering:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SolsticeSunWheel

Liz Westwater November 26, 2023, 4:56 pm

I love this tradition, Beth. Thank you for bringing it around each year. This year we are starting out on my daughter’s 33rd birthday! So the candle of the East is a birthday candle as well as the first advent candle. It is also a healing candle for my sister recently hospitalized with RSV. And of course, it is a candle of peace.

Beth November 27, 2023, 10:53 am

Oh my goodness, Liz. Happy birthday to your lucky daughter who has one of the most amazing moms on Earth! And may the breath’s gift that is the Candle of Air quickly restore your sister to full wholeness. xoxox

Angela Berry November 26, 2023, 6:03 pm

Thank you! I’ll be lighting my first candle in a few minutes….
Blessings to all.

Beth November 27, 2023, 10:53 am

Angela! Thank you for joining us!

Beth T November 26, 2023, 6:12 pm

Thank you Beth.

Beth November 27, 2023, 10:54 am

And gratitude right back to you, Beth. 💚

Judy Pitchforth November 26, 2023, 7:01 pm

I have an old Danish candle wheel that holds 4 candles and then I place one in the center for Christmas Day. The candle holder is now over 35 years old. This year I am giving it a fresh coat of paint in preparation for the Solstice Sun Wheel Advent Blessings for 2023. Thank you , Judy

Beth November 27, 2023, 10:56 am

Oh dearest Judy! I love that you are lavishing some extra love on your sweet holder. May your rites be filled with beauty and creativity.

Patty Michalak November 26, 2023, 9:10 pm

Lovely gift of peace and unity, even in the drizzle here in Virginia. Offered gratitude and sought strength for loving kindness for my husband recently diagnosed with ALS. Serenity for all, so mote it be.

Beth November 27, 2023, 10:57 am

Oh, Patty! My heart goes out to you and your sweet husband. May I add his name to my healing altar? Serenity for all, so mote it be… indeed.

Patty Michalak November 27, 2023, 11:37 am

Yes please! All the blessing and thoughts are most appreciated. I know Spirit has a plan, it is up to but follow and do the best we can. We are blessed with strong love for over 25 years. Thank you!

Beth November 27, 2023, 2:30 pm

I am happy to. What is his name (if that’s okay)?

Patty Michalak November 27, 2023, 3:00 pm

It’s perfectly ok. Henry Michalak. Thank you. Blessed be….gratitude!

Beth November 27, 2023, 5:01 pm

Prayers on the way… 🙏🏻✨🙏🏻

Marguerite November 27, 2023, 12:22 pm

I just love this tradition! Also did my full moon reading and it was very comforting and powerful! Wishing and hoping all that participated love, light and compassion. That you Lady Beth and may love and light surround you now and always.

Beth November 27, 2023, 2:33 pm

Thank you, sweet Marguerite! Blessings of this luscious Full Moon!

Here in the woods, we hardly see Lady Luna until the leaves have fallen, so we are especially celebrating tonight! So glad we can see Her in Her full glory from our POV here at Laurel Hill Cottage. 🌝

Beth November 30, 2023, 9:13 am

I just love your writing so much, I read the Air Dedication over and over. It feeds me. You bring such a gift to the world. And your commitment to the FB page is mind blowing!!

Beth November 30, 2023, 10:54 am

Thanks, Beth. I hate that the FB page is sort of getting away from me (not surprising, with almost 2,000 people).

I am having to fight with the algorithm constantly in order to see peoples’ posts. Even when changing from the weird default of “most relevant” (?!?) to “most recent,” I am still not seeing some posts for DAYS, if at all.

But I love how everyone is commenting and supporting one another without me. 🙂

The time you enjoy wasting
is not wasted time.

~ Bertrand Russell

Ready to join the journey plus receive your free Tarot briefing weekly? Sign up here…