These last weeks before Solstice are the deepest, longest, darkest nights of the year. They correspond to the hours of 2 AM or 3 AM in the daily cycle, when many of us lay awake at night wrestling with the demons of anxiety and worry. Likewise, these weeks can be laced with stress and depression, especially if we try to fit ourselves into family or cultural expectations.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for our ancestors, especially those living in the North, before they had electric lights? The darkness may have seemed oppressive. Or it may have been the perfect medium for nurturing dreams and visions. No wonder winter was a time to sleep more, and to gather with loved ones around the fire during long evenings to tell stories.
Kindling light within the darkness (“lux in tenebris”) is a theme that resonates deep within our souls. No wonder the Festival of Lights is celebrated in so many different ways, in many different cultures, during this time of year.
At Winter Solstice, the sun seems to stand still for a few days, with little change in the length of day or night. Then the darkness — oh, so slowly! — begins to recede, and the days begin to lengthen once again.
Each Sun-Day before Solstice, starting today, I will light a candle on our Advent wreath at dusk. I’ll give thanks for the blessings in my life, and send out a prayer for Mama Gaia and all the beings of the world.
This year, inspired by Beth Owl’s Daughter and Waverly Fitzgerald, I’m picking up a practice I used to do years ago called the Advent of the Sun, or (as Beth calls it) the Solstice Sun Wheel Ritual. It’s heartening to know, that in this day and age when we are linked globally by this world wide web, hundreds of others are also participating.
Advent means the arrival of a notable person or event. But instead of waiting for the arrival of the Christ Child, we are waiting for the rebirth of the Sun.
Each Sun-Day before Solstice, starting today, I will light a candle on our Advent wreath at dusk. I’ll give thanks for the blessings in my life, and send out a prayer for Mama Gaia and all the beings of the world. Craig and I will read a poem or story about the Return of the Sun, or sing a song. We’ll toast the season with amaretto or honey wine or last summer’s raspberry liqueur. Or winter ale. Maybe a little cocoa with peppermint schnapps.
We’ll pause at dusk for each of the next four Sun-Days, to light the candles (one more each week), soak up the Mystery, and await the Return of the Sun.