This is the end of the second week of the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. Today/Sunday and tomorrow/Monday are good days for working with the candle wreath. We are lighting one less candle each week as we move toward the Solstice so we can wait with the dark and receive its nurture. 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.
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 week in our movement toward the Solstice, we create sacred space and 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.
You may want to bring out pictures of the ancestors you know to be with you in the candle light.
If working with a Tarot or oracle deck, you could pull three cards – court/people cards would be the most appropriate if using a Tarot deck – to help you open to messages of love 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.
In the e-retreat, daily e-mails provide reflection prompts for each element as you move through the week as well as inspiring quotes and images. We also have weekly tele/audio circles. You are invited to join us. One Monday, December 6 we begin the theme of Dark Nurture.