Many people forget or perhaps do not realize that the origins of our celebrations around this time of year are tied to the rhythms of nature from a time when we too were bound by the excessive darkness that occurs at this time of year. This week marks the shortest days of the year, those which contain the fewest hours of light. The center of that pattern being Winter Solstice.
It is tradition in our family to honor this darkness as a time for withdrawl to make space for the eventual renewal of life, hope and light. We do this in various ways but most memorably by lighting candles and being in the darkness for the longest night of the year. This year I had the space in my life to make our own candles for the first time. We were gifted a large quantity of wax and so I went on a bit of a mission to find wicks that didn’t contain metal! Who knew. Seems like a strange thing to put in something you are going to set on fire to me. But I digress.
I put the bricks of wax in a large measuring cup and then in the oven on 200F. When the cup had liquid in the bottom I poured off the wax into a small jam jar that I had stuck a wick into the bottom of. Some of our other friends made candles by dipping their wick into the wax and then cold water, then wax, then cold water, slowly letting it build up. It’s important that the wax isn’t too hot or it will melt your other wax and the wax on your wick. Either way you do it beeswax candles, homemade beeswax candles are a beautiful addition to our Solstice traditions.
We light the candles at dusk while reciting our Solstice prayer and leave them lit until the dawn of the next day. We also go out and decorate a winter tree each year and over the years have experimented with lots of different bird feeder crafts. This year I tried out muffin tins of bird seed with lard which didn’t go over very well. I think the idea was homemade suet? Either way I had to remelt them and add beeswax so that they would be solid enough to hang outside come tomorrow.
Light and love to you all in this time of darkness and withdrawl may you find peace with yourself and space in your life for the rebirth of all that is joyous.
May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
Hope in one another
Hope in all souls of light creating peace and justice that spans the world.
In the heart of every person on this Earth
burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.
May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the light and the love that is hidden in every heart.
Ah la lah.