NOTES FOR WINTER SOLSTICE

FIRST HOUR PREPARATION:
Create a Christmas Cairn - Solstice Altar - using 3rdMillennium imagery.  The Cairn/Altar should have one tall central candle, either red or yellow, which is easily transportable. I suggest the tall jar (7-day) candles. Surrounding the central tall candle are 9 votives or tea lights. These are lit at the indicated moments.

Join hands and step back 3, 6, or 9 steps to delineate the circle; set chairs with breaks at the cardinal points.  At the cardinal points, place directional candles.

Rehearse the readings, choreograph the movements. Be  sure you have enough room for dancing around the Cairn/Altar, and enough residual light so that readers can see, but you still have the desired effect of darkness at the appropriate moment. Rehearse unfamiliar carols.


RITUAL FOR THE WINTER SOLSTICE


CAST THE CIRCLE

Outside the chairs, circle once with salt, once with water, and once with a Dagger; Smudge everyone

[At this point, no one else is allowed inside the circle until the Song, “In the Bleak Midwinter” below.  Late comers may enter in silence and watch from the periphery, and then after the song, a cut will be made in the Circle with the Dagger, and as late comers enter, they are smudged.  After the song, no one is allowed into the room at all.]


RAISE THE STANDING STONES
Group Visualization: As each portal is raised, visualize gates of Standing Stones rising up.  Visualize a Green Mist swirling in at the North, A White Mist at the East, a Red Mist at t he South, and a Blue Mist in the West.

ONE:    [Approaches the North portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the North Stone
    Ancient One of the Earth
    I Raise You and Call you to attend this Circle
ALL:    Charge This by your Powers, Old Ones!

    [The North Candle is Lit]

ONE:    [Approaches the East portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the East Stone
    Ancient One of Air,
    I Raise you and Call you to attend this Circle.
ALL:    Charge this by your Powers, Old Ones!

    [The East Candle is Lit]

ONE:    [Approaches the South portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the South Stone,
    Ancient One of Fire
    I Raise you and Call you to attend this Circle
ALL:    Charge this by your Powers, Old Ones!

    [The South candle is lit]

ONE:    [Approaches the West portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the West Stone,
    Ancient One of Water
    I raise you and call you to attend this circle
ALL:    Charge this by your Powers, Old Ones!

    [The West Candle is lit]

INVOCATION OF THE GODDESS AND THE GOD:


ONE:    Gracious Goddess
    You who are the Queen of the Gods, the lamp of night, the creator of all that is wild and free; Mother of woman and man; lover of the Horned God and protectress of all the People, Come to us and bring your Lunar ray of power upon our Circle here.

ONE:    Blazing God
    You who are the King of the Gods, Lord of the Sun, master of all that is wild and free, father of woman and man, lover of the Moon Goddess and protector of all the People, Come to us and bring your Solar ray of power upon our Circle here.

Chant:
    Gathered Here in the Mystery of this Hour
    Gathered Here in one strong body
    Gathered Here in the Wonder and the Power
    Spirit Draw Near

CELEBRANT:    Think of a time, not so very long ago, when all you knew was what you saw happening around you.  The seasons come and go; the moon waxes and wanes; the sun rises and sets; the stars circle the heavens above, the earth sits solidly below, and under the earth is the realm of the dead.  The Druids tell us that the fires we light on the hilltops call the Sun into its journey through our skies.  As the Winter approaches, the Sun retreats as  the God sends his power elsewhere.  Perhaps he visits the Underworld?  Perhaps he will not return. 

            In the very early times we turned to the Moon Goddess for light to hunt the deer and the boar.  Their rich fatness kept us warm as we waited to see if the God would return. 

Song:        In the Bleak Midwinter (NCH 128 – Verse 1)

        In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan
        Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone
        Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
        In the bleak midwinter, long ago

[Late Comers may enter the Circle in silence, through a Cut in the space.  Each one is smudged.  The door to the space is shut, and no one else is allowed in.]

Celebrant:    We gather in the early morning darkness to watch where the light will fall as the Sun rises this day.  The Druids tell us that the Sun’s first ray will fall precisely in the center of the Temple we have dug into the Hill.  Listen to the Story:

Reading:    Sun from The Universe Story (Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, HarperSanFrancisco, 1994) pp. 63-79

When the universe flared forth it was capable of a particular spectrum of activities.  When the laws for the fundamental particles were stabilized, the universe’s capability for creative action advanced to a new set of rich possibilities ... In the Milky Way galaxy four and a half billion years ago, the disc of stars was relatively rich in all the elements.  Rushing through this sea were two great spokes of density... whose velocity at the edge of the Milky Way was 20 miles per second.  As these invisible waves spun, they drew forth millions of star bursts, each new star with its own particular destiny.  But now we focus on one branch of this galactic evolution, the one leading to our Sun.
In the area of space-time where the sun emerged, the density wave passed through every one hundred million years.  The most massive stars exploded as supernovas and enriched the interstellar matter.  By the time of the Sun’s birth, perhaps one hundred passes of the star-making wave had occurred.  Eventually a wave swept through that triggered the burst of some ten thousand stars all at once. ... One of these subclouds was destined to become the Sun of our solar system ...
    This formation would be finished in five hundred thousand years.  The subcloud, freed from interactions with the others, gathered itself into a state of increasing nonequilibrium; matter fell into a center, creating a great deal of heat that radiated out from the collisions.  After several hundred thousand years, the central core became thick enough to trap its own light and began to heat up even more rapidly. ...

The pressure of the plasma core grew to match the gravitational pressure.  When the temperatures reached ten million degrees, the hydrogen at the center began to form helium.  Our Sun was born....

[Light the Central Red Pillar Candle with a match]

The vast majority of the gas that did not make its way to the Sun’s core ... was blown off, but not all.  Spinning around the Sun was a disc of the original subcloud just large enough to resist these cosmic rays from the Sun.  Only one one-hundredth the size of the Sun – a cool remnant of the subcloud, a hanger-on, a residue, something left over when the main action of the star formation was finished – this swirling disc of elements gave birth in time to Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

[As each planet is named, light 9 votives around the central Red Candle using matches from the central candle]

Spiral Dance Around the Altar Part One

[CD:  Loreena McKinnett, a winter garden: five songs for the season, tracks II and III.  As the spiral dance continues, extinguish each of the 9 votives until only the central candle still burns.]

CELEBRANT:    We are overwhelmed by this story.  We cannot understand it.  We have a nagging fear that our personal gods are too small to have created such a Universe.  We fall into despair and make agreements with the ones who profess to mediate, or who claim the power to walk between the worlds of Spirit and Waking Consciousness. Soon our Chieftains and High Kings claim Sovereign power for themselves, and we are disenfranchised.  We repudiate the Old wisdom and accuse our mystics of heresy.

    [One takes the central candle outside the chairs  toward the West and moves around to the South. Extinguish the candle.  Lower house lights]


Litany

    One:    My God, my God, Why have you forsaken us?
    All:    Our Sun is dark.  Our light is gone.  How can we sing our sacred song?
    One:    War, famine, disease and death; Poverty, injustice, despair surround us.
    All:    Our Sun is dark.  Our light is gone.  How can we sing our sacred song?
    One:    The land is silent, the birds have flown, we have nothing to call our own.
    All:    Our Sun is dark.  Our light is gone.  How can we sing our sacred song?
    One:    We cannot breathe the stagnant air; the waters do not refresh us.
    All:    Our Sun is dark.  Our light is gone.  How can we sing our sacred song?

[Silence – 3 minutes]

Reading:    Before Time Was (Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, Scott Cunningham)
[During the reading, the red candle in the south is lit, and gradually moves closer to the circle, then comes in through the east, where it is placed in the midst of the altar.  Relight the votives. Gradually bring up full lights]


    Before time was, there was The One; The One was all, and all was The One.  And the vast expanse known as the Universe was The One, all-wise, all-pervading, all-powerful, eternally changing.
    And space moved.  The One molded energy into twin forms, equal but opposite, fashioning the Goddess and the God from The One and of The One.  The Goddess and the God reached out and gave thanks to The One, but darkness surrounded them.  They were alone, solitary, save for The One.  So They formed energy into gasses and gasses into suns and planets and moons; They sprinkled the Universe with whirling globes and so all was given shape by the hands of the Goddess and the God.
    Light arose and the sky was illuminated by a billion suns.  And the Goddess and the God, satisfied by their works, rejoiced and loved and were one.  From their union sprang the seeds of all life, and of the human race, so that we might achieve incarnation upon the Earth. 
    The Goddess chose the Moon as Her symbol, and the God the Sun as His symbol, to remind the inhabitants of Earth of their fashioners.
    All are born, live, die, and are reborn beneath the Sun and Moon; all things come to pass thereunder, and all occurs with the blessings of The One, as has been the way of existence before time was.


Litany (John 1:1-5 from The Five Gospels (Robert Funk and The Jesus Seminar, Westar Institute 1995))

One     In the beginning there was the divine word and wisdom. The divine word and wisdom was there with God
All:     and it was what God was.
One:     It was there with God from the beginning.
All:     Everything came to be by means of it; nothing that exists came to be without its agency.
One:     In it was life,
All:     and this life was the light of humanity.
One:     Light was shining in the darkness,
All:     and darkness did not master it.

Spiral Dance Part Two
[CD: Ancient Noels.  All rise and spiral out to the full circle.]

SONG: Joy to the Earth (from Songs for Earthlings Emerald Earth Publishing, 1998)

Joy to the earth, the Light returns
And sunlight fills the air
The tide has turned, the Sun has been reborn
And hope is everywhere, and hope is everywhere,
And hope, and hope is everywhere.

Dark ruled the Earth and Death has reigned
But on the wheel does spin.
From out the womb of night
Is birthed the Infant light.
The Sun has come again, the Sun has come again,
The Sun, the Sun has come again.

CLOSING

THANKS AND RELEASE OF THE GODDESS AND THE GOD:

ONE:    Gracious Goddess
    We thank you for attending our Circle.  Go if you must, stay if you will.  Blessed Be.

ONE:    Blazing God
    We thank you for attending our Circle.  Go if you must, stay if you will.  Blessed Be.

DISSOLVE THE STANDING STONES
Group Visualization: As each portal is released, visualize gates of Standing Stones disappearing:  Visualize a Green Mist swirling away at the North, A White Mist at the East, a Red Mist at t he South, and a Blue Mist in the West.

ONE:    [Approaches the West portal with the wandj]
    Spirit of the West Stone,
    Ancient One of Water
    Take your leave with our gratitude

    [The West Candle is extinguished]

ONE:    [Approaches the South portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the South Stone,
    Ancient One of Fire
    Take your leave with our gratitude

    [The South candle is extinguished

ONE:    [Approaches the East portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the East Stone
    Ancient One of Air,
    Take your leave with our gratitude

    [The East Candle is extinguished

ONE:    [Approaches the North portal with the wand]
    Spirit of the North Stone
    Ancient One of the Earth
    Take your leave with our gratitude

    [The North Candle is extinguished]

ALL:    OUR CIRCLE IS OPEN AND UNBROKEN.  MERRY MEET, MERRY PART, AND MERRY MEET AGAIN.

FEAST