BDO Winter Solstice Solo Ceremony

The Winter Solstice is a great time to get together with other people and celebrate. However, for many of us this is not an option, for a variety of reasons, indeed, those of us who have the free time, the ability and a community to share with can consider ourselves fortunate. If you cannot do it on the exact time/day try to do it as near as possible to the date, you could also use the sunset (and extinguish the flame as the sun sets)

So here, as an offering is a suggested ritual that is aimed for a person with little or no experience, working solo at home. Please feel free to take this as a base and amend or elaborate as much or as little as you like to suit your own circumstances, whether alone or in a group.

The basic element of this ritual is to light a candle at the time of sunrise (depending where you are, in the UK it is between 8am and 8.30am) and address the sun. So this could be expanded to having a fire whilst waiting for sunrise, or simply waiting and addressing the sun itself as it rises.

Whatever you do, please take a photo, of the flame, the fire, the sun or yourself, and post it into here so that we can create a sense of togetherness.

THE OPENING :

Use your usual method of opening a ritual space.

If you are unsure of what to do, here is a suggested basic way to do so. Get a map, or road atlas, or look up your location on google maps. Look on the map to see what features of the landscape, or what places there are that you know, to the North, East, South and West. Write these down if necessary.

In advance set up a simple (or elaborate) altar in an appropriate position, near a window Ideally have a window open, at least a little, and bear in mind you will want to light a candle, so avoid draughts or curtains, or have a lantern. Basically you want a small bowl of water in front of a candle. have some incense handy and decorate the rest of the altar or table with seasonal items, holly, evergreen branches, berries etc make this pleasing to your eye.

As an optional extra have a large deep fireproof bowl handy, and a piece of paper upon which one has written a dedication or commitment that you wish to make for the coming year (this will be explained later and it is an OPTIONAL extra)

Start off by grounding yourself. If possible go outside and feel the air on you, feel your feet on the ground. Think on that you are in a line of generations that have come before you, stretching back into time. As you have this awareness, ask for guidance and blessing your ritual. This could be addressed to a personal deity, or a guide, to your ancestors, or to some animal or plant that has caught your attention. Perhaps a bird that has started its dawn chorus. If you cannot get outside perhaps get a large stone that you can hold and feel connected to the earth.

Cast a circle if you know how to and feel it is appropriate.

Burn the incense and ask that your space be consecrated for your ritual. Wave some of the smoke over yourself and your head.

Sprinkle some of the water around the edges of your space, asking for your space to be purified, and again some onto your forehead. Place the bowl in front of the candle.

Face the East, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the east, and say
“Spirits of the East, Spirits of dawn and of springtime, spirits of Air, spirits that hail from (Location to the east) I call to now, and ask you to be present here for my ritual.(slight pause) Hail and Welcome!”

Face the South, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the south, and say
“Spirits of the South, Spirits of midday and summertime, spirits of Fire, spirits that hail from (Location to the east) I call to now, and ask you to be present here for my ritual.(slight pause) Hail and Welcome!”

Face the West, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the west, and say
“Spirits of the west, Spirits of evening and of autumn, spirits of Water, spirits that hail from (Location to the east) I call to now, and ask you to be present here for my ritual.(slight pause) Hail and Welcome!”

Face the North, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the north, and say
“Spirits of the North, Spirits of the night and of winter, spirits of Earth, spirits that hail (Location to the east) I call to now, and ask you to be present here for my ritual.(slight pause) Hail and Welcome!”

Return to the East with your arms open, bring your mind to the thoughts of your Ancestors, that line of generations you thought of during your grounding, and say “Spirits of my Ancestors who guide and support me, in both blood and community, in wisdom and in love, I call out to you now in humility and ask you to be present here for my ritual. (slight pause) Hail and Welcome!”

Remaining facing East, bring to your mind this place upon which you stand and say “Spirits of this place upon which I stand, Spirits of this land, I stand here before you in humility and ask that you be present here for my ritual. (slight pause) Hail and Welcome!”

Remaining facing East, raise your face and bring your attention to the open expanse that is the sky through which the sun travels during day. Say “Spirits of the sky above, dwellers of the arch of the heavens, I stand before you and ask that you be present here to guide and bless my ritual. (slight pause) Hail and welcome!”

(Pause to allow a sense of the spirits gathering)

“Hail and welcome to this ritual to celebrate the Winter Solstice”

Say the Druids prayer, addressing the gathered spirits:
“Grant me, O Spirits, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of Spirit, and all goodness”

After this, chant three Awens
(there is a video of this at https://youtu.be/wQsg6nLEDzc if you are unsure)

THE RITE:

The room should ideally be unlit, curtains should be open so that the light comes in as the sun rises.

Sit yourself comfortably and enter into meditation. Just to clear your mind. If you have a drum, you could drum softly, slowly and quietly if practical. Or play an instrument slowly and quietly. Or just meditate.
The idea is that you spend some time with the growing natural light, waiting for the sun to rise.

If required, there is a guided meditation at https://youtu.be/Oh5baLiYp18 which is just under 30 minutes duration

A few minutes before sunrise, light the candle. This can now be your focus. Depending on your location, the sun will rise above the horizon between 08.00 and 08.30 (you can check the time by putting your location in this website https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/london?month=12 )

At the correct time of sunrise (if you are unable to see the horizon) read out this salutation:

“Hail to you, Oh sun of the seasons,

As you travel the skies aloft ;
Your steps are strong on the wing of the heavens,

You are the glorious mother of the stars.
In whom my faith is eternal

You who lies down in the destructive ocean
Without impairment and without fear ;

And then rise up on the peaceful wave-crest
Like a queenly maiden in bloom.

Hail to you, Oh sun of the seasons
Born anew this solstice morn.

Hear my prayer, that I may feel your gentle warmth upon my skin
In days not so far away.
Accompany me, through winter’s chill, through rain and snow and wind and mud

Until life returns to this sacred land”

Spend a few more minutes concentrating on the flame, do you see anything in it?

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(OPTIONAL EXTRA)

If you have this ritual and your dedication written on paper, then tear them into strips, twist each strip and tie it into a loose knot (or do this with a single random sheet of newspaper) and put them into your large deep bowl
Light one of these strips from the flame, and put it into the bowl so it lights all the paper. Gaze into the flame, you can let your eyes go a bit fuzzy, do any images occur?
When the fire has gone out, sift through the ashes to see if there are any unburnt pieces left what have a readable message. There may be an odd word here and there that can be put together?

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THE CLOSING:

Chant 3 Awens.

Face the North, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the north, and say
“Spirits of the North, Spirits of the night and winter time, spirits of Earth, spirits of (Location to the north) I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”

Face the West, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the west, and say
“Spirits of the West, Spirits of autumn and the evening, spirits of Water, spirits of (Location to the west) I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”

Face the South, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the south, and say
“Spirits of the South, Spirits of the midday and summer, spirits of Fire, spirits of (Location to the south) I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”

Face the East, with your arms open, bring to mind the location you know that is to the east, and say
“Spirits of the East, Spirits of the dawn and spring time, spirits of Air, spirits of (Location to the east) I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”

Remaining East with your arms open, bring your mind to the thoughts of your Ancestors and say “Spirits of my Ancestors who guide and support me, in both blood and community, in wisdom and in love, I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”

Remaining East, bring to your mind this place upon which you stand and say “Spirits of this place upon which I stand, Spirits of this land, I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”

Remaining East, raise your face and bring your attention to the open expanse that is the sky through which the sun travels during day. Say “Spirits of the sky above, dwellers of the arch of the heavens, I thank you for your presence here at my ritual (slight pause) Thank-you and farewell!”
At the end, thank the sun, and thank whoever you connected to right at the beginning for their presence.

If it is safe to do so, let the candle burn out, then go and have some breakfast!

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