I hear there hasn’t been a lunar eclipse like this–occurring at winter solstice–for 456 years. People get excited about rare celestial events. But I’ve seen a few of these come and go. To me it seems the greater rarity now is any moment when a human fully meets the sky. Even if a lunar eclipse occurred every year on the solstice, what matters is how you meet it this time. Pause your busy or mournful or joyful life and connect with the power of the Sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun is standing still (hence “solstice”) at its southernmost point on the horizon. It is the longest night of the year when we are invited to turn from our cold mysteries to face the bright warmth of new possibilities. The days will soon get longer and the nights will get shorter. Gardens will grow, and so will our lives.
There are many wonderful Solstice rituals involving chants, costumes and Yule Logs (this one’s nice). I like to keep it simple. For my solstice ritual, you’ll need just a candle (or a fireplace or a favorite lamp) and some “Sun food.” This is a magical edible—something to symbolize the power of the Sun. You’ll take it in at the ritual’s climax. Sun cookies–anything round and yellow—will do (here’s one recipe). Lately I’ve fallen in love with greens–kales, lettuces, chard–as a juiced blend of their chloryphyl is the closest thing to liquid sunshine. Be the alchemist as you prepare what’s right for you. As you gather the ingredients, meditate on your experience of the past ninety days.
At your Solstice moment–which is that hour you can give yourself when you have absolutely nothing else to do. Nowhere to go, nothing to get, no one to satisfy. Approach your altar (or your fireplace or your table with your favorite lamp), declare a circle of sacred space. Call in the elements, the snow-capped mountains, the exhilarating winds, the roaring hearth fire, the healing warmth of a fragrant bubble bath. Light your candle or lamp. Turn so that your back faces the altar and the light is now behind you. Close your eyes and feel into the dark. Notice whatever sensations or emotions this brings. Savor it as your experience, your singular expression of the world soul at this unrepeatable moment. Do not judge it. Sink into it. And when you feel ready, turn to the light. Open your arms and draw the energy of the light into your heart. Offer your profound thanks to the Sun, the source of light, life and energy on this planet. Ask the Sun to bless you with health, creativity, and love in the coming days. Eat your Sun food. Savor this thrilling experience of light! When you’re complete, bow to the candle or lamp. Thank the elements and dissolve the sacred circle into a mist of protection that surrounds you as you re-enter the world. Extinguish the candle.
For the Southern Hemisphere, for whom the days will be getting shorter, reverse the imagery. Start with symbols or images evoking the abundance of the garden. Begin facing the altar. Celebrate the experience of warmth and light as the Sun is at its strongest. When you are ready, turn so that your back is to the light. Close your eyes and contemplate the coming darkness. Feel into it. When you are ready, with eyes still closed, eat your Sun food.