Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Solstice!

The fire is lit!

Overlooking the Mattole Estuary

The sky blushes pink for sunset

Ella bundled up

Friends gather round the burning solstice fire

Already, we have arrived at and surpassed the longest night of the year. It seems to have come quickly this year...

We gathered a plethora of outerwear and a few snacks, and extracted our playing toddler by 4:30 (by threatening to leave without her!), and headed for the bluffs above Mattole Beach, site of this year's Solstice celebration. For 15 years, the party has been at the home of Freeman and Nina, and last year, they declined to host a potluck, and this year, due to Freeman's healing broken back, Michael and Ellen volunteered to host out on their grazing lease.

We parked the car just as the fire was lit. The new location is just breathtaking! There was the looming pile of brush and limbs, set to become a bonfire, perched on the edge of the continent, overlooking the blue and serene Mattole Estuary, while scalloped black sand outlined the roaring ocean below. There were already a handful of revelers, all donning rain pants and coats, parkas, and barn boots, braving the winds and threatening rain to honor the age old tradition of lighting a fire on solstice sunset, to keep the light alive on the longest night of the year, to welcome back the light. The sky turning pink was the only indicator of sunset, as thick clouds obscured the view above.

After about an hour of chatting, we circled for our formal business: to cast into the fire things from the previous year we wish to release, to honor the births and deaths of those close to us, to call out the things we are grateful for, and to sow the seeds of our intentions for the coming year. We write the wishes and intentions on little pieces of paper, and tie them to a fir tree, which is tossed onto the fire at the end.

We have not had as much rain as some would hope so far this year, especially the salmon. Our neighbor Clarence offered up a Native American rain chant, in hopes of bringing on the rain. We all agreed to give it a go. I'll be damned if that rain didn't open up while we were still singing the unfamiliar syllables! And it kept up, effectively bringing our family's attendance at the party to a close.

The Solstice gathering is one of my favorite annual events all year in Petrolia, a chance to gather with intention with our small, but large, community of fellow Earth travelers. It feels like an ancient connection, to honor so old a tradition. Indigenous peoples all over the world honor(ed) this annual marker of the passage of the Earth around the sun. And shouldn't we honor that glowing orange orb that truly provides all that we consume and enjoy on this sacred planet?

Solstice Blessings to all of you, and may your coming year be filled with fulfilled intentions!

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