Tag Archives: ritual

DIY Winter Solstice Ceremony

I’ve been anticipating Winter Solstice for weeks, another chance to cleanse myself of dark inner voices and illuminate them with hope and renewal. When I participated in the Horror Writers Workshop 2015 in Transylvania I learned that burning a bonfire with intention keeps evil spirits from harming your property or family. Bonfires in Bran are rather small and quick burning, but sufficient to send intentions into the darkness. And people there light fires frequently to ward off dark energies.

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I’m planning a very simple celebration that will be personal for me but not too heavy for guests. To keep it simple I’m following the guidance of  Stacey L. L. Couch in her blog post How To:  Winter Solstice Celebrations. Couch says you need just these activities and she expands on how to accomplish each:

  1. Fire to light up the darkness. Any sort of fire is OK like even a candle or incense but an outdoor fire is preferred.
  2. Go outside, at least for a little while to experience the dark where it exists – outdoors. Turn off all lights except your fire to really feel the darkness around you.
  3. Offerings to burn in the fire. Invite guests to bring offerings, too. Stacey has some brilliant simple ideas about this so please check out her post. I bought oysters to roast over the fire and I’m writing a letter to someone who died but I still have something dark inside I want to tell him, to let it go. One guest is bringing cookies.
  4. Gathering of friends. You can go it alone but inviting new and old friends brings a community together. I’m keeping my gathering small, just 5-6 of us this first time. We moved our date to Friday to work with everyone’s schedule. It’s close enough!
  5. Quietude, prayer, and contemplation. I’m thinking a moment of silence and then sharing poems, quotes, or songs will fill this element. It can be serious, light or humorous, or all of it. I’ll ask  guests to bring some and I’ll dig some up, too. How many songs can you think of with Sun in the title or lyrics? “You might as well be walking on the sun”, “You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “Good day Sunshine”, “Sunshine on my Shoulder” . . .
  6. Sources of light. Candles, holiday lights, flashlights, matches, whatever bring about light in the darkness. Stacey says, “And may you remember the infinite light of your divine essence once again.”.
  7. Prayers for the Season. Stacey offers a couple of short prayers you can use or find your own or make them up.

This may seem like a lot but I think it can happen in about 10 minutes if you want it short or you can make it as long as you and your guests like. I hope you take some time today or this week to recognize the darkest time of the year and that the sun will bring light more and more each day. Please tell me how you plan to celebrate Winter Solstice. Read more to see how one brave woman used her imagination to create her ceremony.

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A friend who lives with a serious illness sent me this ceremony this morning. Let your self imagine your ceremony if you can’t have it in reality. Images can be very convincing.

“The morning of Winter Solstice 2016, and a new beginning.

I woke up unusually early with a negative feeling, one that was probably with me when I went to bed. I had fallen back into a pattern of attempting to force the truth from someone. Instinctually, I know this will not happen within any number of days set by me, if ever. So it felt as if I was already living the disappointment.

Wanting to feel better, I thought of the blog Kay Addington McDonald recently made about smudging and how smoke removes negative energy. The idea of this practice reoccurred in the story of Charlotte Pope’s daughter, Marston Blow, when she used sage liberally on herself and the Indians during the violence at Standing Rock.

Being in my cozy blankets, not having sage and it being dark outside – I used my mind to visualize as I’ve been taught in guided meditations by Jodie Lea and Renee Silvus [local yoga teachers]. I saw, the sage wrapped tight and burned down to a fat stick with a smoldering glow. I imagined that by my or some other hand, the smoking sage was made to circle me at and below the root chakra. Slowly, it was brought up and around my chest, neck and then my head. By this time, I felt free of the issue if not for my attention and intention alone.

In my mind, I stood and held the sage over my bed and let it drift about my room and then walked through my small home spreading smoke and letting all negativity disappear with it. I did feel better, but wasn’t able to fall back to sleep. So I made coffee and left a message for this person that allowed them to continue in whatever place they are, but without me.

I acknowledged that I slipped into initiating talk even if it wasn’t right because it’s hard to lose a friend, but that I’m learning to honor myself. I also explained the requirement of truth for me, even in a friendship because it is part of respect and love. I wished them well in their grief from a personal loss that has exaggerated both our shifts, and offered to be available should things change in a manner that becomes appropriate.

I’ve got changes to keep making in the New Year, and want to start my Winter Solstice in a manner that represents that.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Anticipation

 
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You can’t buy this in a bottle

Spanish Vermut, what a surprise I found in Spain! You can’t buy this in a bottle from local makers. The best vermut bars create their own secret recipe and store it in huge earthen casks like the two you see behind the bartender below. You have to go there to drink their recipe. They start with sweet white wine and infuse it with their own blend of botanicals and spices. Caramelized sugar added at the end gives it the reddish hue. Vermut originates from the German word wermüt which means wormwood, an ingredient generally regarded as one of the first to be infused into aromatized wines. Wormwood is also the main ingredient in true absinthe.

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Doesn’t he look like a local? As I sat with my friends sipping my first ever Spanish Vermut with tapas I couldn’t help notice the architecture and decor of this building in Granada, including the local people who seemed to come here regularly plus the tourists. I shot almost all of these photos from the hip hoping to get candid authentic images without disturbing the feeling that was going on in the bar. We sat at one of the few tables while many people stood at the bar; there were no bar stools. Later, in Murcia vermut bars, I noticed it is common to have no bar stools and a much smaller bar space. Vermut is a Spanish aperitif and people generally walk to the bar, drink a vermut, perhaps with tapas, and then move on. Standing for this makes sense to me. It’s a temporary stop, no need to sit.

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It looked like some patrons came in to see who’s there that they know, or perhaps they planned a ritual check-in with someone. For many it felt like they were performing their routine. It reminds me of “happy hour” before dinner. In Spain it’s “La Hora de Vermut”.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVermut is served with a thin slice of lemon floating in it or perhaps an orange slice, and maybe stuffed olives for garnish. Tapas might be something pickled.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat has he been thinking about!? And what is she doing on her tablet? Tourists or locals?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow long has he been working here? Is he the owner?

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I walked so many places in Granada, I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of this place. I think it is Bodegas Castanedas because the images I found in my search are very similar but slightly different from mine. It is near the Moroccan shopping area. If you can identify it, please tell me.

Can you buy Spanish Vermut in the US? . . . Maybe. Check out this guide to the Spanish Vermouth Renaissance to learn more about the varieties, then go to your favorite wine dealers and Spanish restaurants and ask.

This post if my response the the Weekly Photo Challenge: Local.