Friday, November 26, 2021

Welcoming the Sun Home

Herons, geese and loons have departed for warmer climes, and waterways in the eastern Ontario highlands are slowly freezing over. Temperatures hover a little below freezing, and skies are grey and cloudy for the most part. On our early morning rambles, puddles along the trail are rimed with ice, and fallen leaves crunch pleasingly under our feet. Near home, a north wind rattles the eaves of the little blue house in the village, setting the whiskery trees nearby in raspy motion too.

When night falls and skies are cloudy, I pull draperies closed and shut out the gloom beyond the windows, taking refuge and much pleasure in small seasonal rites. I light scented candles, brew pots of tea and stir mugs of hot chocolate, experiment with recipes for curries and paellas, sketch and read. I plot gardens for next year (more roses and herbs, perhaps a Medicine Wheel garden), craft grand and fabulous schemes which will probably never see the light of day. I do a little dancing from time to time, but my efforts are closer to lurching than they are to anything else.

Hallelujah, we are nearing the end of November, and in a few weeks, days will begin to lengthen again. It will be some time until we notice a real difference, but at least we will be on our way, and for that reason, Yule just may be my favorite day in the whole turning year. When the winter solstice arrives, there will be celebrations and silliness, candles, music and mulled cider to drive away the darkness and welcome old Helios back to the world. He is still here of course - it's the earth's seasonal wobble that makes him seem more distant than he actually is at this time of the year.  We and our planet are the ones in motion, not the magnificent star at the center of our universe.

Beginning Sunday night and continuing until Yule, I will light a candle at dusk in a practice called the Advent Sun Wheel Circle, four weeks and four candles, a fifth festive candle to be lit on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Now in its seventeenth year, the observance was crafted by the late Helen Farias, founder of the Beltane Papers. Helen passed beyond the fields we know in 1994, and her creation was carried on, first by Waverly Fitzgerald and since 2004 by Beth Owl's Daughter. Waverly passed away in December 2019, but I think she will be with us in spirit. She always is.

On Sunday night, I will join a circle of wise women and kindred spirits in far flung places in doing this thing, companions like Beth, Joanna Powell Colbert and many others. I am not so wise myself, but that is quite all right. Together we will honor the earth and her fruitful darkness, and we will welcome the sun home with warm thoughts and healing energies. This has been a difficult year. May there be light ahead for all of us.

One needs only a wreath and five candles to participate in this observance. At sunset on Sunday, light the first candle in your wreath and spend a little time in quiet reflection, then blow out the candle when you are done. On the following Sunday at sunset, light the first candle and a second candle too... and so on and so on until the Winter Solstice when the fifth and last candle of the ritual is lit. 

Magpie creature that I am and ever a passionate collector of seasonal lore, I am very interested in your own "before Yule" practices.

1 comment:

thatwritingchick48 said...

At sunset on Yule Eve, we conduct a brief ceremony before placing a battery-powered tea-light candle in an east window of our home to guide the Sun back through the longest night. We chose this flame-free alternative not only because we are kept by cats, curious creatures who continue to romp well past kittenhood, but my housemate's COPD requires us to be smokeless. And our local star seems not to mind accepting these accommodations, having returned to us every Yule Day so far, a total of seven of them. On Yule morning, we welcome him, thank the candle for its service, and put it away: duty done for another year.