Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Yuletide Wrap-Up: Yule Ritual

Gathering all my thoughts up, much like the toys, gift bags, product instructions and other holiday detritus that are scattered around our living room.

Pre-Christmas: On Friday, I led our first ever Winter Solstice Ritual up at church. Though I wouldn't describe myself as "exclusively" a Pagan anymore, I went through an extended amount of time where my spiritual energies were focused on Wicca, so I have more than a passing acquaintance with it. Fast forward to the present, when a mother in the congregation asked if I would talk to her teenage son about Wicca, who evinced an interest. Really smart, interesting young man -- the combination of my interest being reawakened, added to more new folks coming to the church who had that bent, topped with the teen's interest, led to the service.

It was terrific.

About twice as many people showed up as I expected. One part of the ritual was really, really lovely. I stole it from an online source, perhaps from a UU congregation, but can't remember now, who. Whomever, I thank you.

We had "personal" candles held, one for every couple of people. One yellow candle in the middle of the altar represented the sun. All of these were lit. I had some words about the longest day of the year, and how ancient peoples perhaps didn't know that the sun would return. Some words about loss. Gee, why did that appeal to me? And we went around the circle and those who wished to, were invited to share what they had lost during the past year. For me: "Loss of innocence. Loss of a feeling of protection. Loss of a personal connection to the divine." One by one, as each couple finished, the candles were extinguished. Lastly, I snuffed the sun candle and introduced a few minutes of silence for us to think about these losses.

Then, I lit the sun candle and invited those holding the personal candles to relight them from it. I had some words about the promise of the sun returning, the promise of a new year. We went around the circle, speaking of the promises we could see. Mine: "The promise of health for my family. The promise that we can now turn our energies to our dreams and goals."

Really lovely.

Magic moment: at the end of the entire ritual, (which was a definite end, there wasn't anything inconclusive about it), everyone stayed put. "Um, go in Peace ..." I said. Again, no one moved. After a couple of seconds, one woman said quietly, "I don't want to go." Everyone agreed, so we just sat for a few moments in silence.

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