by Crystal Pomeroy
As many Daykeeper readers are no doubt already aware, todays winter holidays are the legacy of one of the oldest sacred traditions of the Northern Hemisphere: Winter Solstice. Each year, between December 20 and 23, comes the longest night, followed by the return of the sun to the Northern sphere as it passes from Sagittarius into Capricorn, marking the official beginning of winter, and the gradual lengthening of daylight hours.
For ancient cultures, winters dark cold posed a challenge to survival. The beginning of sunlights daily victory speaks to archetypes lying deep in humanitys ancestral soul. These are revived in contemporary December fests, when we suspend our exterior labors, direct our attention towards Spirits call, and rediscover the light that has been with us always, waiting for us to remember and share it generously so that it can be born anew.
This December, we invite you to synchronize with the solstice symbols more consciously, so that Solstice's power fills your awareness and affairs with abundant good, as it connects you with all those who, together, are encircling the planet with much needed peace and love at this years end (even though you may not consciously know who or where they are).
Solstice customs, including the tree, the feast and the gifts now associated with Christmas, were conceived in the womb of ancestral shamanic cultures. The perennial tree (originally oak, until the Church wiped out most of this species in Europe) had been venerated as a most sacred being and symbol of the divine gift of enduring life. As Christmas historian Tony van Renterghem points out, ever since the first lightning brought fire from the sky through a tree to humans, our foliage friends were also considered emissaries of the divine gift of light and warmth.
Over 100 millennia ago (some say up to 1,000!), in the first Solstice fests which have been traced by Renterghem and other specialists, pieces of meat were tied to a sacred trees branches. Then a shaman, Santas historic ancestor, presided over one of the most important ceremonies of the year. The tree was burnt in a joyous explosion of light and fire, and the meat, thus roasted, shared among all present.
As millennia transpired, such parties became increasingly toned down and refined, integrating the exchange of gifts. The enormous community Yule that was eventually driven to extinction by the Church lives on, as pagan customs will, in the symbolic log in the fireplace, and a tree in the home, laden with candles and other symbolic offerings to the inextinguishable light from above.
The cycles reflected in the solstice correspond to those within the human psyche, also expressed in the Christian tradition, in which the solstice found ready syncretism. (That is, the Winter Solstice did. The less-maintained sacred tradition of Summer Solstice, and the symbolic Rebirth of Moonlight, merit further study.) By the 3rd Century AD, Roman Emperor Romano Aurelio had established December 25th as the birth of the god called "Invincible Sun." A little later, in 273, the Church chose this day to celebrate the birth of Christ, who had already come to be associated to that pagan god of light. In 336, Christmas became official.
In this day and age, winter holidays are still charged with potent spiritual energies. Beyond vacations and commercial flurry, Christmas lives on as a point of reference to the light that abides within each of us, and is reborn whenever we resort to the spirit of unlimited generosity associated with this season. Many millions worldwide congregate in the invisible temple of a tacit agreement of love, exchanging cheerful smiles, giving gestures, and a willingness to see beyond differences; to forgive.
Notwithstanding the tendency of certain current events, many generations of soldiers have customarily laid down their arms on Christmas Eve (and we know that Spirit is still alive and stirring in them today). Such accumulated ancestral memories, stored in our individual and shared souls, along with the invisible guides and spirits related to the seasons values, and further accentuated by the Full Moon of December 19, generate an energy window that will potentialize your prayers at this time, those you decree for yourself, for personal and impersonal loved ones, and for our beloved planet.
I. SYMBOLS OF THE ELEMENTS FOR A SOLSTICE-SYNCHRONIZED ALTAR
EARTH: a tree or any type of green plant, especially perennial. Pine, oak and cedar are related to the continuation of life, protection and abundance; ivy with fidelity, protection, healing, marriage, victory (especially by spiritual means), honor and fortune. Any green decorationbranches, sprigs, or leavesevokes the solstice spirits at this time. Wreathes are particularly significant, since the circle is a solstice symbol. This symbol can also be reflected in round cakes and breads.
WATER: can be covered along with fire in a receptacle with floating candles, as well as in a bottle or goblet of sparkling wine. A bit of melted snow or rainwater in an earthen vessel would also evoke the spirits of winter.
FIRE: can of course be burning bright in your fireplace or bonfire, built and tended with care. Any yellow candle is also great, a ball-shaped one would be amazingly synchronized, or you could burn combined red and green candles.
AIR: burn pine branches or sprigs or pine incense, and/or play seasonal music.
Note: in 2003, Winter Solstice takes place at 6:15 PM central time, December 21. The corresponding energy portal opens two and one-half days in advance (just before the full moon of December 19), and lasts throughout December (actually, into early January).
II. THE CEREMONY
1. Each participant in this solstice ceremony should have various strips of paper on hand (for writing prayers), and a pen. If this ceremony is done in a group, also have gifts for exchange. (Candles are a traditional solstice gift, as would also be inspirational books or any tool to revive the recipients inner light.)
2. Seasonal angels and guides.
The Angel of Freedom from the Illusions of Fear and Insecurity
The Angels of Beginnings and of Endings
The Solstice Angels
The Angel of the Christmas Spirit that Stirs in All Hearts this Winter
The Angel of Personal and Planetary Peace
Archangel Zadquiel and His Divine Complement, Amethyst
Archangel Uriel (Ruler of Sunlight)
The Devas of the Earths Foliage
The Christ Child
To call on invisible helpers at the beginning of your ceremony, mention all their names, then saying,
"We speak to all the spirits of the high white light related to the current energy portal. We bless your work of divine service and guidance, and we invoke your assistance to express the powerful, loving, harmonizing and prospering consciousness and manifestation of the Winter Solstice and of Christmas."
3. If done with a group and there is a tree present, hold hands in a circle around it. Otherwise, stand before some branches, sprigs or other green life.
4. Connect with the power of the foliage, with the following words:
"Oh, dear, green beauty, you who are the living expression of creation, we thank you for sharing your healing life with us. Thank you also for offering yourself as our gathering center, thus reminding us of our own nature, which is limitless love, life, and abundance. We open ourselves to the rebirth of the Christ light in our hearts and in the following concerns
5. Each participant writes the issues he or she wishes to be blessed and transformed by divine light, one affair per strip of paper.
6. Each person takes turns putting the strips of paper in the fireof a candle, fireplace, or bonfirewithout mentioning the matters. While they burn, all present repeat, slowly and with concentration:
"Thank you, divine Father-Mother, because we know that this matter is surrounded and permeated with the light of your presence, which transmutes it through the heat of our faith, and carries it to the realm of invisible, loving Spirit, from which can only return marvelous outcomes of healing, of supply, and of any other miracle thats needed."
7. When all the prayer strips have been burned, each participant can take a moment to frankly and sincerely identify those people or groups that she or he may be mentally shouldering with some negative attachment, of criticism, irritation, or resentment, then writing their names together on another piece of paper.
8. Take turns burning these sheets of freeing love, while all present repeat time and again with feeling as they disappear:
"At this Solstice Portal, which has stirred the sacred in nature and in our ancestors hearts throughout millennia past, we now make our contribution to world peace. We lay down the arms of fear, of criticism and of condemnation, and free all our connections to the infinite heat of higher love."
9. Holding hands, all present repeat during 3 minutes:
"The love, the peace, the joy and the faith that join us on this day, are connecting with the love, the peace, the joy and the faith that comes forth in all the hearts of the world, and we surround the entire planet with victorious love, peace, joy and faith now."
10. Exchange gifts and enjoy your Solstice fest as your share your favorite treats. These could include a round cake, decorated with a circle of candlesa Solstice tradition preceding birthday cakes, as we now celebrate a new cycle of solar light which is reborn in each- and in all- of us as we recall it.
Merry Solstice, and Christmas, to all.
Note: stay tuned for future lunar and seasonal cycles, including Summer Solstice in June, and the symbolic Rebirth of Moonlight!
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