A Ritual for Interfaith Yuletide Sharing
Many or most of us who practice in Wiccan and/or other Neopagan traditions have family members and friends of other faiths. An enjoyable ritual that enables all to share the joy of the seasonal can be the making and blessing of a fragrant Yuletide Potpourri. Offer a party on or near Winter Solstice. Serve hot mulled cider and cookies, and ask everyone who comes to bring ingredients for the potpourri: sprigs of various varieties of fragrant evergreen trees -- pine, yew, spruce, cedar, juniper. Fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, basil, thyme are good, and also spices such as cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Dried apples or other dried fruits, nuts, small pinecones and winterberry can also be added for color and texture. Provide a very large container (cauldron, dishpan, washtub) that all can gather around while breaking the ingredients into small pieces, mixing them into the container.
Begin by setting the intent, perhaps:
We gather at the time of Winter Solstice, when the longest night of the year gives way to the waxing light. The ancients celebrated this time as the rebirth of the Sun, and it was considered a time of hope, promise and new beginnings. Let's make a Yuletide seasonal potpourri together, and while we work and share our favorite holiday memories and also our hopes and wishes for the year to come, we can blend those joyful energies into the potpourri and also charge our own will to make this next year all we hope it can be. When we are finished, we'll bless the potpourri together and each take some home where its fragrance will remind us of the hopes and wishes we have shared and what we plan to do to bring them into reality.
After the potpourri is complete, join hands around it and say something like this:
Feel the energy of our sharing pass from hand to hand. See it in the eyes of others all around our circle as we join together in peace and joy and love. May our thoughts and energies surround and fill us, infusing that which we have created so that the feelings we share tonight carry forth to anyone not here whom we may give a gift of our Yuletide potpourri. Though we go from here in our separate ways, hold in your hearts the unity of sharing that it may be extended to others. Let's share a moment of silent thanks to Divine Spirit for our many blessings. (pause) As light returns to Earth, let Light be rekindled in our hearts and minds, and may we know and share the blessings of peace and love.
A Personal or Group Candlelight Ritual for Winter Solstice Night
Whether working alone or with a group, let's call upon the Sun and Venus, so prominent in the chart of Winter Solstice, for their most hoped for potential, that peace will prevail on Earth within 2003. The optimum time for this working would encompass the actual time of Winter Solstice: (5:15 in PST, 6:15 in MST, 7:15 in CST, 8:15 in EST), although the ritual can, of course, be done at other times, too.
You will need to create (or purchase) a large enough wreath to step through. This can be most any circular form, decorated as you choose with either fresh or artificial greenery. If working alone have at least twelve candles, one to represent each sign of the zodiac. If you are working with a group, have candles in multiples of 12, all the way up to 360 for each degree of a circle. Candle luminaries can be made by putting little tea candles (the kind that come in tins) within small paper cups. These burn safely, even outdoors in moderate wind, as the metal holds the wax until it burns away.
Begin with a centering meditation and then cast sacred space in your usual way. After calling the Guardians of the Watchtowers, invoke the God and Goddess as Sun and Venus:
O Sun of bright new year I (we) call Child of life and light Shine peace throughout this land of ours Bring wisdom with your might! O Venus, come in love and peace Star of dawn for all to see Your light of Truth I (we) call within Peace shall begin with me!
Then, as you say this next short verse, step through the Yule wreath, make your personal transition from the old year to the new:
This night of new Light's birthing I (we) step through Yule wreath free Cast off the old year, greet the new With Light of Peace, so mote it be!
Now light your candles one at a time and place them in a circle. If you have the space, you can build the circle of Light around you or your entire group. If you are working alone or only have the space of a table, make the circle on it. A symbol of Earth could be placed within (a map, a globe, a photo of Earth from space). As you place the candles, sing an appropriate song. A good one, familiar to many and available in many songbooks begins Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me*. The second line of verse one of the song continues: Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be. Then the next two lines are Christian in wording, but can easily be changed slightly so that the words are generic to all spiritual paths. Here is a suggested change: In Spirit together, we are one family, Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony. The second verse is appropriate to all paths just as it was originally written.
After the circle of Light has been formed, other favorite traditions could be followed, such as the burning of the Yule Log, the blessing of sharing of cakes and beverages and also thoughts and experiences of the ritual. Following the closing of this rite, you will be allowing your candles to burn all the way down naturally, so be sure that they are safely placed and can be monitored for safety.
In closing, offer thanks to the Guardians and to Sun and Venus for this sacred night as you visualize the Light of Peace spreading in all directions outward from your circle all across the Earth, joining with other circles of Light in other places.
Believe that on this Winter Solstice you have been and will continue to be a significant force for peace!
Copyright © 2002 Maria Kay Simms
*"Let there be Peace on Earth" is by Sy Miller & Jill Jackson, ©1955 by Jan-Lee Music