ceremony

Here Comes the Light! Winter Solstice 2015.

I have great memories of Winter Solstice past. I used to live in this magical place where Solstices & other seasonal shifts were deeply honoured. I know I use the word 'magical' a lot. That doesn't make it less so. This place is nestled between three different mountain ranges. Two rivers flow through & around it & there's an abundance of wild food that grows in its fertile soil. It's in transition. For decades, it was a logging town, but as forestry continued to fail in the province, it was forced to adapt. It has evolved & softened it's edges & continues to draw the most eclectic group of people. 

*this photo is not mine

*this photo is not mine

People there rely on the land. They grow their own food, forage, hunt, raise animals, & even heat their homes with deadfall. This breeds a certain sort of person & puts them deeply in touch with their natural world. There's a wildness to them that matches the landscape. Season changes were one of many reasons to get together, eat copious amounts of food, meditate, & enjoy one another's company. 

Winter Solstice here is always greeted with more snow than most outsiders can imagine. Temperatures are well below freezing but the people of this land couldn't stand to be anywhere but outdoors. Campfires are built, skis strapped on & headlamps lit. Mulled wine is brewed & instruments played. It's a genuine celebration in the most traditional sense. Days are are about to get longer & as the poem below illustrates, the scales tip back in favour of the light. 

Once more the balance tips;
the scales of the year veer toward the light,
and we pray in that illumination
for peace.
~Patrice Haan, from We'Moon
*this photo is not mine

*this photo is not mine

I really feel this this year. The space between Summer & Winter Solstice felt particularly dark & long this time around. Figuratively & literally. There's Syria, Paris, Trump, & overall pain for our most innocent. It's been tough. It's getting better. Here in Canada, you can feel the change. The new government, whether you like them or not, is singing songs of peace & working deligently not only to heal a fractured country but a fractured world.

Unity. Peace. Prosperity. These are the themes the light brings. These are the promises of Winter Solstice. Temperature continues to dip but we have the generosity of the sun to get us through now. The generosity of each other to support us as we wait for spring's first buds. It doesn't matter if you're not 'witchy' or 'spiritual', there is celebration in this time.

*this photo is not mine

*this photo is not mine

In Celebrate the Solstice, Heinberg writes that “wisdom consists in knowing one’s place in any given cycle, and what kinds of action (or restraint of action) are appropriate for that phase.” Being in touch with your outer environment, puts you in touch with your inner environment. As you become attune to the subtle changes of your outer world, it alligns you to the shifts of your own conciousness & well-being. This can be challenging in the city where it's easy to feel a lack of natural space. Maybe this is why I'm homesick this year. It's not impossible though. It just takes a little more conscious effort, at least at first.

*this photo is not mine

*this photo is not mine

Many of us are already gathering & celebrating this time of year. There are many ways you can celebrate the longer days & renewed sense of hopefulness. Sharing food with people you care for is always a good way to do this. Potlucks, as mentioned above, are ideal, with each person contributing their specialty. If you focus on featuring seasonal foods, this becomes even more potent. A 'gratitude circle' at this or other gatherings brings light to our hearts. Each person takes their turn & shares just one thing for which they feel grateful.

Get outside. The air may be crisp but the sun is there to get you through. Layer up & find some free space. Have a campfire, go for a ski. Get a little frost burn even. Rosy cheeks & rosy hearts are one in the same. 

*this photo is not mine

*this photo is not mine

Allow yourself to slow down as winter months demand. Tune into your introspection & listen to the stillness of nature, as you meditate, pray, write, or cosy up with your favourite books. Drink tea. If you garden in the summer, it's a great time to bring out those dried herbs for a potent hot drink. The nostalgia & warmth will heighten you. 

Journal & make a list of areas in your life you want to invite more light. Focus on what you want to attract as opposed to what you want to get rid of. Instead of saying, I hate my body, try, I want to bring physical & emotional health to my life as I build strength & self-acceptance & love. Make it real. If you must, make a list of what you want to purge & throw it into that campfire you made yourself.

Make it your own. Remember, you can't do it wrong. Maybe all you'll do is look into the sky & thank the sun for it's return & for the many ways it nourishes us each day.

Regardless, the light is back & we have so much to look forward to!

*this photo is not mine

*this photo is not mine

Welcoming the Autumn Equinox 2015

Autumn Equinox is tonight, Wednesday, September 23, 2015. Equinox comes from Latin words ' equi' for equal, & 'nox' for night. It literally means equal night. It is one of two days a year, when the night & daylight hours are balanced. Fall Equinoxes invite longer nights as summer slips away. While night & day hours are officially equal on September 26, the sun is perfectly at the equator today. This is the tipping point. 

Despite the coming darkness -  or perhaps because of it - this is a satisfying time. Summer harvest is in, Summer bounty is fresh and there's finally time to rest after the toils of dust & dirt. The work we began during the Vernal Equinox has come to fruition & as the Earth itself begins moving inward preparing for cooler Winter months. The leaves change colour & the air gets crisp. We begin accepting that the soil, which has worked so hard for us all Summer, is ready to rest. All this is welcome however, because the pantries are full, the sweaters cozy, & we're ready for the break as well. 

As the Earth begins to move inward, so do we. 

Some ways we can invite Fall in:

  1. Freshen your alter to represent the season. Press dry leafs as the colours change; Bring in golds, oranges, & browns. Consider making a wreath or offerings of apples or ornamental squash.
  2. Meditate on balance. Reflect on the ways you can bring balance into your life. Make a list of the following four categories: mind, body, spirit, & heart & where you can create space to grow. Are you living in your mind? Are the wheels always turning, obsessing? Have you closed your heart? Have you forgotten to pray? Are you watching too much t.v & forgetting to read? Are you connected to breathe? Exercise? Eating well? Bring it in, be honest, & welcome the quiet opportunities to sustain change.
  3. Pray for peace. Peace for your city, your neighbourhood, your family, the world, the universe...& especially, for yourself. Part of balance is peace. Peace of mind. Peace of heart, peace in the spirit, & peace in the depth of your being.
  4. Find your gratitude. Create a list of what you'd like to invite to your life with the shift in energy. Give thanks for all you have to be thankful for.
  5. Embrace the darkness. People are often afraid of the dark. Like the Equinox, we are both made of light & dark. It's easy for most of us to embrace the light. It's 'light', easy, flirty, fun. It's all our pretty, shiny bits. We welcome it, adore it, & fight for it. The dark, we tend to struggle with. It's where the challenging pieces of our hearts live. It's the insecurity, the jealousy, the anger. These scare us because we've been taught to believe they are 'wrong' or 'bad'.  We forget that it is in the shadow that mystery resides. Where seduction lives. Where the night-crawlers make their home. It is in the darkness that we grow & evolve. What parts of your darkness have you rejected? What of your self do you avoid? How can you begin to integrate these & accept them? When you reject your darkness, you reject yourself. You cannot be a whole & balanced person without these parts. How can these dark pieces be brought into the light?

These are just a few ideas to bring in the new season. Make it your own & follow your intuition. There are no hard & fast rules when it comes to ceremony. There are as many ways to celebrate as there are people. My personal focus is going to be number two, bringing balance to my life in the most accepting, loving way possible. 

Wish me luck.