This is the second week of the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. You are invited to join the e-retreat in progress for support in tending the season with daily emails and weekly virtual circles.
The cry of the geese as they migrate leaves a melancholy echo. Then silence. Most other birds have gone before and many creatures of the land are in their dens. Leaves have fallen from trees; the bare and quiet branches stand against sky.
The emptiness can seem bleak, but opportunity flows into its openness. A view to distant mountains opens up without leaves. And while nature withdraws at this time of year, the presence of the ancestors grows stronger. We tell stories of the recent dead at our holiday gatherings, passing on their memory and gifts to a new generation. We enact small rituals, cook holiday foods, and gather in ways that ancestors from generations in the past began. We celebrate traditions and wisdom inherited from spiritual and religious paths nurtured by the ancestors of ancient times.
The ancestors are our biological family, of course, but also those connected to us through choice, place, ideas, and traditions. Like the living, they are a mix of wise ones and trouble makers; sometimes all mixed in the same person. [Daily prompts for inspiration for thinking about these different types of ancestors are part of the e-rereat.]
These ancestors come with gifts to offer and as the days grow darker the way opens for rituals, meditations, and reflections that connect us to their wisdom. Celtic teacher Caitlín Matthews offers this counsel for connecting with the ancestors in her book The Celtic Spirit:
“[The ancestors] who were the wisdom-bearers and way-showers in their lives have not ceased from these roles. By asking our spiritual allies in meditation to take us to meet one or more of our wise ancestors, the living ancestors, we can travel to the timeless otherworld and visit them. We can discover spiritual allies in our living ancestors, consulting them about matters to do with our family, our way of live, and ways of respecting the spiritual core of all things.”
This Week’s Ritual
In this third week in our movement toward the Solstice, we light four candles, but then blow one out to create a doorway through which the loving ancestors can pass to join us in the circle of light. We sit with them, receptive to the gifts they have to share.
As you sit in the open circle of light, you could pull three cards, perhaps court/people cards would be the most appropriate if using a Tarot deck, that represent messages the ancestors are sending to you. Place each card by a candle and spend time contemplating its possible message(s). Finally contemplate them as a group.
After sitting a while and receiving your ancestor message, you may want to draw a Major Arcana card to connect with the Divinity that can guide you in following the guidance of your ancestors.