Wednesday, December 22, 2004


So last night I celebrated the solstice, but because I was way behind in doings for Christmas my celebration pretty much involved lighting every candle in the house and puttering around wrapping and baking, etc. I have lots and lots of candles and was amazed to realize that when I light them all there is no need for electricity or heat.

I love celebrating solstice and usually, historically I get together with friends and do all kinds of fun rituals that involve fire. My most favorite is to write down on individual pieces of paper all of the things that I am willing to release and let go of, and all of the things that I am willing to receive and make room for, and then I burn them. And we drink and chant and sing and dance and that's all fun, but I really really really like burning stuff.

Which is why there are some scorch marks on the very expensive Aubusson carpet because fire can get away from you really easily. And after that it's a good idea to incorporate the other elements of water and earth in the solstice celebration. So as to put out any accidental wild fires.

I talked to my friend Leisa last night because we started celebrating solstice at her house years ago - she has a fireplace, much safer for burning wads of paper, so I always think of her on solstice. She had been at a celebration with her kids where they made peanut butter pine cones rolled in birdseed and then the kids decorated the yellow, like the sun cupcakes that she had brought with candy corn and other bright sweet things. There was going to be storytime, but after the sugar from the cupcakes started rushing there was general kiddie mayhem so they just all ate and drank and were festive.

Leisa and I have shared our winter and summer solstice celebrations with friends who have no idea what they're in for. Like the time we took Jacqueline down to the beach for a summer solstice bonfire. Leisa's house is about 2 blocks from the beach so we just walked down the street with our bottle of wine and our strips of releasing/welcoming papers, a bunch of dried sage and lots of matches.

The whole concept of even thinking about what the things in your life you'd like to release and the things you'd like to welcome in is a weird one for most people. It presumes that you actively participate in how your life shapes up and requires a conscious assessment of what is working and what isn't. Lots of people would just rather not. So it's always fun to go through the exercise with newbies. The biggest question is, "Do I have to say what I'm writing out loud?" And really the choice is up to each individual. Personally I like to yell it out because there's something about speaking the words which makes them real and powerful. Of course, I'm a drama queen who likes to get drunk and burn shit.

So we're down and at the beach and it's pretty windy which is cool because we had all the elements: Wind (AIR), Ocean (WATER), Sand (EARTH), and now all we had to do was make a fire. But the blowing of the wind was making that difficult. I don't know if it was because Jacqueline was with us and we wanted to jazz up the ritual or what, but we decided to make a magic circle and sit inside of it, so I dragged the wine bottle in the sand and made a great big trench to designate our magice circle. Then we dug a hole so that our little fire wouldn't get blown out by the wind. Next we opened the bottle of wine, which was actually our second or third because we started drinking when we were making our slips of paper. As we huddled over the hole in the ground, inside our magic circle, sipping our wine as the sun went down we lit match after match and finally got our sage bundles blazing. Well, actually more like smoldering because that's what sage bundles do, but when we started burning our papers we had flame.

And a huge plume of smoke, which drew the attention of a police officer on an ATV.

We were literally the only people on the beach so it's not like he had to look hard to find the perpetrators. We were so into what we were doing that he almost drove into the magic circle before we heard him. Like I said it was windy. As the whine of the engine alerted us to the fact that the calvary was coming Leisa and I yelled, "Don't enter the magic circle!" which caused him to cut the engine and say, "What?"

"We're in a magic circle and you can't come in."
"Um, okay, but you can't have a fire on the beach, it's illegal. Uh, can I ask what you're doing in your magic circle?"
He was a young and flirty cop, and although we were buzzed we also realized how ridiculous that sounded, so we got the giggles.
"We're celebrating the summer solstice by burning all the things we want to get rid of and all the things we're welcoming in. You got anything like that you want to burn? If you do, you can come in the circle and join us."
"Okay, no I don't think so."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, hey my birthday is tomorrow, I thought that was the solstice."
He's totally flirty not even mentioning the open container and public drunkeness which was really good for us because that would've been three ticketable offences from a cop who's not cool.

We sang happy birthday to him and he sat there and watched as we finished burning our paper thoughts, made sure we put out the fire and then took off with a "Happy Solstice." We staggered home, laughing so hard we were crying.

What things in your life are you ready to let go of? What are you ready to welcome in? Tis the season to let it burn!

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