Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Winter Solstice rituals and decorations

Winter solstice rituals have been the centerpiece of my year for more than 2 decades.  I can feel the energy building toward this sacred day celebrating the birth of the sun, as the light recedes to a pale wash in late November.    I am especially drawn to the power of trees in my winter solstice rituals, and to finding ways of honoring their magic in our lives here on this out island in the Discovery Passage of BC.

I honor apple trees during this winter celebration of the longest night.  The apple is the tree that most represents the Goddess, and women’s ancient wisdom, to me. When cut horizontally the 5 pointed star, or pentacle, appears within the pattern of the core.  The apple holds the special place of spiritual origins for me, because my first awakening to a spiritual practice came through full moon rituals grounded in Wiccan teaching.

I honor cedar as the grandmother of my shamanic relationship to the other-than-human-worlds of nature and spirit.  When I first began making shamanic frame drums I understood to tell the tree the purpose to which I planned to put its child branch, and to leave a gift at the root for the twig.  These small offerings of broken corn kernels and meal have grown throughout the years into a mindfulness practice to never take anything, even the most ordinary pebble on the beach, without putting something in its place to keep from making a hole in the spirit world.

I honor family by decorating my winter solstice windows with trees that come from away.  This candle holder made of a birch log came from my partner’s family woodlot in Idaho, a tree species that does not grow here.   This is a reminder to me that I live on the bones of someone else’s family and ancestors; my ancestors’ bones are far away in England, Scotland, Germany and France, and so I am always a guest on this soil I call home.

While I love the twinkle of colored lights and the glow of candle flame that wavers in the heat from the wood stove during winter solstice, this honoring of trees in my winter solstice decorations comes from the same understanding I wrote about for learning from nature when creating the The Journey Oracle. “Does not the sun shine and rain fall on one as much as the other?  Is not every entity living the one that is adored?  No creature is better than another.  Each one is the perfect teacher of its unique qualities and usefulness.”