Winter Solstice ceremonies are characterized by a spirit of introspection and vigilance. This is the time of year when the forces of darkness are strongest and we keep the fire of spiritual practice burning so that all beings can find their way back to the light. This light that shines in all hearts is the light of truth, love and wisdom. With this practice we affirm our commitment to be light bearers. We offer our prayers and practices so that all may realize Harmony and Peace.

During this ritual of the inner light, the days are the shortest of the year. The Winter Solstice ceremony is one that is more masculine than others. The cold of the long winter nights in the northern-eastern part of the American continent makes the twenty-four-hour vigil that the ceremony involves a feat in itself as it takes place for the fire keepers outside near the sacred fire. It requires the spirit and energy of the warrior to keep the fire going in these conditions. I have often experienced this in the most intense cold, the biting cold that makes the trees crack like gunfire and covers them with a frost that shines like a thousand diamonds in the rising sun.

Thus, the solstice is the perfect time to celebrate the light of the days ahead that will last longer and the light that shines within each of us. It is a festival for the light—of the inner light that can endure and overcome the darkness. It is a celebration of the victory of the light over the darkness that we all carry.

When we can celebrate in the community, the preparations are varied. During the day before, there is a need to get wood for the fire and prepare the feast that always ends all our ceremonies. Each family goes to the forest in search of a fir tree. They will choose a tree that reflects the new year. They usually want it to be healthy and well-proportioned, as it will truly embody what they anticipate in the coming months. Before cutting the tree, we communicate with the tree with the usual offerings, prayers and songs. It is cut only when we feel it is ready and then brought to the home. The four lower branches are then cut off; they will be used to sweep the house of the year that is ending. This sweeping is done in joy with songs, passing in all the corners of the house, on all the walls, in the closets, etc. The fir tree is then burned in the sacred fire so that the old energies are put to ashes. The tree is set up where it will be honoured and decorated with the intentions of each family member; these intentions are very often in the form of beautiful handicraft. The participants in the decoration make items that represent what they desire in the new year. If a man desires a horse, then he might carve a small wooden horse to decorate the tree.

At sunset, all the fires in the stoves are allowed to die. There is always someone meditating in front of the altar. Relays are planned so that the responsibility does not become too burdensome. The same goes for the dancers; if there are enough of us, there is always someone dancing. This is a dance that embodies the light of spirit in the physical world, for where there is light, there is no darkness.

The guardians of the sacred fire will stay by the fire all night to keep it alive. The sacred fire is the first thing that we do at the beginning of all our ceremonies. To keep the fire alive is to keep the light alive within oneself, this light that must never be extinguished. No Native American celebration can be conceived without a sacred fire. During the winter solstice, its importance is increased to symbolize the victory of light over darkness. The fire keepers are warriors assigned to the task.

Singing, praying and dancing until daybreak. It is a time of enlightenment for the whole community. The embers of the sacred fire will be collected after the Rising Sun ceremony to relight the fires in every home. Before relighting with the embers of the sacred fire, the old year is taken out by cleaning the stove of the cold ashes. A stove fire relit with these embers is unique. One feels a presence that cannot be described in words. It is a concrete magical presence that is clearly perceived. The house becomes as if animated by sacred energy.

The celebration of the inner light ends with rejoicing and a community feast. The celebration of the winter solstice is an intense moment for anyone, young or old, regardless of the role they have assumed.

As it is our tradition to celebrate the solstice at the nearest moon the best day to do so is the new moon this Friday the 23rd. But for me, as a small community, to adapt to when people were available we celebrated it at the full moon. The solstice fire has been burning in my stove since that day. There is a special crystal that only comes out once a year that was placed in front of the altar. Everyone takes turns looking at it to see the omens for the coming year. During this winter solstice, 2022, I saw very beautiful energies. I have never seen so many promises for the coming year as this year.

I wish you all serenity of soul and health of body. May we together heal this humanity that has been lost in technology and technocracy by igniting in ourselves the fire of spiritual practice and respect for nature and cultivating it as best we can with our families. May we create our family domains and reactivate our communities.

Joy Light Love and Peace

All our Relationships.



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