I am cobbling together a ritual for solstice this year.
And I would like company with my ritual, because the whole point of it (for me) is companionship.
So consider this an open invitation to join me, in a form that you like.
What this is about, for me.
Some of the qualities important to me for a solstice-together experiment:
Comfort. I want to be able to do this while curled up in blankets and wearing the fuzziest, coziest sweater I own. Holding a mug of something delicious.
Play. This is about allowing a form to emerge that feels good for me, right now. It is flexible, it can change. No rigid structures, no agenda, no one right way.
Light. You pretty much have to have candles on the shortest day of the year, right? And, as my wonderful uncle Svevo said in his Hannuka postcard (sent on the back of a box of holiday candles)…”Let there be lightheartedness.”
Warmth. Warm heart, warm belly. Contentment.
Quiet. A turning inward. A listening. Solstice is definitely a listening time.
Radiance. I guess this is the warmth. And the light. It just seems like its own special quality. The glowing of all the other qualities. The glowing of them and the receiving of them.
Companionship. Togetherness. Smiles across the room. Knowing that we are sharing this, in whatever way feels comfortable for us.
Discovery. Ritual reveals things. Well, it is a form that allows for pause. Pausing in turn allows for quiet, and quiet allows for discovering the things you already knew but didn’t realize that you knew. This is creating time/space/safety for those Known Things to show themselves.
These make up my compass of Solstice Stones. It is a compass of Gemütlichkeit.
I know I’ve written about Gemütlichkeit here before…
Yup. Found it. From last year:
Ah, the marvelous and vital German concept that combines all that is good from both coziness and comfort.
Think plush rugs soft under your feet. Warm sweaters. Cheery lights. Whatever is snug, cozy, pleasurable to touch and look at.
I want to be the snuggliest cat this December. And I want my setting to invite that kind of contented curling up and turning inward.
That is the feeling I would like for Solstice.
So here’s the plan.
I want my day to include stone skippings, my favorite practice.
And I want it to have luxurious stretching, old Turkish lady style. I want to be a cat.
And I want company. Though of course the people who are keeping me company do not need to do any of these things that I am doing, they can do whatever appeals to them. This is not a prescriptive ritual. It is an exploratory one. So it can be reinvented to take all kinds of shapes and forms.
You can skip some stones with me if you like….
Here are the two questions I am using as stones:
“What needs to be eliminated?”
“What needs to be illuminated?”
I will let these questions ripple out, and I will write whatever comes into my head.
I may ask them a couple of times. Or maybe once will be enough.
And I will let pen move on paper and see what reveals itself. I will find out what I know that I do not know that I know.
What needs to be eliminated? What needs to be illuminated? These are my questions for solstice. These are my solstice stones.
If you would like to do this with me in Portland on the Solstice….
I’ll be at the magical Playground enjoying a day of lovely quiet things. Conducting, napping, stretching, clew-searching, coloring monsters, collage, writing. Almost like a solstice mini-Rally.
The Playground is the most gemütlich place ever, gorgeous lamps and warm blankets. Lots of nooks for napping and writing. A bunk bed and a hammock. A kitchenette. Bring a candle or a tea light!
We’ll be open from 10am until midnight, come for as much as you like. Self-guided, though we’ll skip some stones together, run a late afternoon Chicken and watch constellations on the ceiling.
$40 for the day. $20 if you are part of the Alphabet Carousel. If you want to play, email the First Mate to set this up and reserve a spot.
Whatever you are doing from afar can be a part of this too.
I know the Solstice is crazy close to holidays, and there is much General Madness in the air, so you might only be able to carve out five minutes that day, and that counts too.
You might only be able to pause for eight breaths, and that counts too.
Even if you don’t get a chance to skip the stones, you can ask them out loud:
What needs to be eliminated? What needs to be illuminated?
What wants to be eliminated? What wants to be illuminated?
A ritual doesn’t have to be complicated. See also: this list of 31 tiny mini-rituals I put together last December. Apparently I had ritual on my mind then too.
What I really want to say is this:
Know that you are loved and adored by me.
Know that you are part of this community by virtue of wanting to be a part of it, there is nothing more that is needed.
Happy solstice in advance.
Tomorrow I will be talking about the F Word.
Not that one. Though maybe, who knows.
And a week from Saturday I will be throwing myself into quiet and Gemütlichkeit. Though I may break out some dance moves too. This is likely.
I am one hundred percent convinced that however you join me will be the exact right way.
Happy solstice. Happy solstice stones.
If you want to leave possible solstice rituals (that you do, might do, read about, just thought of, whatever), that is welcome here. If you want to skip the stones now, that is fun too! You can always skip them again, that is the magic of stones.
We could also have a little virtual tea party right here in the comments. I am bringing a pot of Egyptian licorice. The pot is deep blue, and it is beautiful.
Help yourself. Love, as always, to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers, and anyone who reads.
I love these questions! I will write them on a card and carry them around with me. And I will light candles, as I always do, and then sit with my colored pens and a big sheet of paper or two, and make lists that map out things to come. Sort of like a mind map, sort of like a plan of connected things.
Bringing a cheerful green pot of Scottish breakfast tea for the tea party!
This invitation is so profoundly welcome to me, I can scarcely express it in words. I can only glow.
Mmmm, I am also glowing appreciation for this. I will whisper-glow a hello in the direction of the solstice, since I cannot join in person. Thinking about rituals, welcoming, comforts, and elimilluminationings of course. Xo
beautiful, beautiful invite. i will be joining from the distance and on floop :).
I have finished my cup of tea (sour peach; I thought I’d ruined it all by letting the box get dripped on, but all the teabags turned out to be wrapped in plastic – usually I would disapprove of this but here it is just right) but I will take it to have acted pre-emptively.
I like this idea. I think I am going to combine it with my New Year (my year starts on Advent Sunday now, and the New Year is all of December and I think a little bit of January too) and sing Britten. So there had better be water, and wine. And candles, yes, definitely. And if the sky is clear I will go and look for stars.
So much yes to this. I will be there in spirit.
This is exactly what I need. Thank you for the invitation!
We are having an open-house party on the 22nd. On the Solstice, most of the work should already be done and the apartment will smell like Drunken Mexican Spice Cake.
Your invitation is perfectly timed. It will be nice to turn off all the lights *except* the holiday lights, and drink some cocoa on the couch with my co-captain and the furry crew.
This year I am test-running a new solstice ritual: solstice stars. I invite you to join me.
*activating super long comment mode*
The concept is this: starting on Dec 1st, each day I fold little origami stars with messages of gratitude and receiving on them. The number of stars is determined by the date—December 10th? Ten stars. That’s where the challenge lies. Here’s how you can do it:
Set your date. I celebrate the winter solstice/Midwinter/Nox as my winter holiday of choice, so I’ll make solstice stars from Dec 1st to Dec 21st (the date of the solstice this year. You can just as easily make stars for a Christmas countdown, or the eight days of Hanukkah, whatever your preferences.
Cut star strips out of paper, x number of stars for each day. On the first day, cut one strip. On the second, cut two. This will add up quickly—I’ll end up making 231 solstice stars this year.
Write your thanks and receiving. On odd numbered days, write things for which you’re grateful. On even-numbered days, write things you wish to receive/create/be true in the new year. These can be tangible or intangible things. No one’s going to see what you write (unless you show them), no one’s going to judge you. The challenge: write something different on each star. My receiving stars are an equal mix of stuff and personal development. “I have bimonthly massages that leave me feeling relaxed and untense.” “I respect my boundaries and don’t feel selfish for insisting on them.” I write my decisions in full sentence because clarity. I use present tense for future reality because it helps them feel more real to me. Write yours as you’d like.
As with any decision, when I make these stars I’m committing to working towards a reality where they’re true. They are as much promises to myself as they are wishes for the future.
Fold up your stars. Instructions here. Fold them so that the message is inside. I like numbering them with their day number afterward. Nine stars with nine on them. Ten stars with ten. You don’t have to.
String them. With a needle and thead, string your stars into a garland. (I didn’t measure how much string I’d need, I just took a long piece. When it’s full I’ll tie the next piece to it.) Watching it grow by leaps and bounds is fun. I like to recite the following just before stringing them:
As the darkness deepens and night grows, I look to the stars from whence all came and to which all shall return. I plant my seeds of starlight, knowing they shall brighten my world as I await the return of the sun. The wheel turns. I honour the old year and welcome the new.
And this for each star as I string it:
On odd days: “Bless the old year, for all it has given me.”
On even days: “Bless the new year, for all I shall receive.”
You can use these words, adapt them to suit your needs, make up your own, or say nothing—it’s up to you.
Hang. When you’ve completed the last day of your star making, hand up your garland as both a decoration and a reminder. You can keep them up as long as you’d like: ‘til the end of the Christmas season, just for a night, until next holiday season, until New Year’s, etc. I’ll leave mine up until the spring equinox, when I’ll compost it in the garden. (Next year I’m going to put a wildflower seed in each star so I can plant them at spring.)
Voila! I hope you find solstice stars as fun and rewarding as I do! Remember: there’s no wrong way to do it! Feel free to change parts to suit you better. If you miss some days, play catch up the next day. Or don’t. If coming up with x number of different things for each star without repeating previous days is difficult, write the same thing. Have fun with it!
After a night and a day of skipping these stones and watching the ripples slooooowly, here’s what I’ve got:
What needs to be eliminated? Shame.
What needs to be illuminated? My body.
I wasn’t expecting these answers, but here they are, and they’re feeling fairly fractal. I am very curious to see where this will lead.
Oooooh, I love these answers. YES YES AND YES! Wow. Wow.
What needs to be eliminated? What needs to be illuminated?
Maybe they are connected. Maybe illumination leads to elimination. And removing what I no longer need can help me see things that might be hidden now.
Things I don’t actually like.
The contents of the closet and the storage room.
Releasing shame allows for a clean slate, so I can create my own design, rather than being committed to the patterns that were there already.
Likewise, releasing sadness allows for the joy to shine brighter.
The fairy lights work their magic best when all the other lights are off.
Elimnation of waste. Of things that no longer need me, things that can’t help me on my current mission. It’s illuminating (hehe) my trust issues.
What needs to be eliminated? All these papers.
What needs to be illuminated? My face.