Social Action Office

Winter Solstice

Set the scene:
Cloths of winter colours - dark blue, black, light blue and gold - set in the four directions with the gold facing north to the sun.
Scatter autumn dead leaves etc. over the cloths.
Have some nice background music playing.
Have ready at the four direction points:

  • A container of water
  • A bowl of earth
  • A feather/oil burning
  • A big candle.


Leader: Introduce the Winter Solstice

The winter solstice occurs on this day - 21 June. It is the time when the sun is at its furthest distance from us - it is the shortest day of our year - the day we have the least number of daylight hours. From today onwards the days will be getting longer again and we look forward to spring.

In the Northern Hemisphere particularly, and in times before electricity, this time of year was truly a time of living in darkness. The solstice was really celebrated in a very significant way as it was the time to mark a change -the sun was turning and coming back - this meant light and warmth and new growth. For us here the changes are not as significant. Many things do change and happen to us though, as the Solstice approaches. The days grow shorter, there is less light, the weather is cold (which tends to make us stay indoors more often), some trees become bare and show their skeletons, the grass dies off and the bones of the land show through their tattered coat and we ourselves put on more clothes, looking for colours to tone with the light, the season, and the weather.

It is the time to remember how to live in darkness and to have hope that the light and sun will return. It is the season when we learn from nature

  • how to honour the darkness of Life's Mysteries without losing faith...
  • how to recognise the seeds of growth and nurture them in our own inner warmth until the light returnsÉ
  • how to dignify the elder who lives always within us, and to face our own old age with serenity and faith and power.

We can learn that even in our darkest moments, health, serenity, and healing energy are available to us when we focus on them with positive intent.

The Solstice then, is a time when we experience yet again the natural oscillation of all life forms, swinging from one aspect to the other and then back again, over and over again, just as we inhale and exhale over and over again, and sleep and wake and sleep again, and live and die and live again.

Leader: Let us now invoke the elements and call on the Spirits of the Land to be with us as we gather...

We face south and remember the life-force of AIR (a large feather).
We call on the Spirits of the South to be with us today.

We recall the strong southerly winds that push their way north to us during the winter - bringing the cold to us from the great ocean and the snow country. We are reminded of the need to change and adapt as new winds blow - reminding us of new depth to travel on our journey. We call on the winged messengers who come and settle in our wetlands at this time. Let the message of those taking refuge in our land be encouraged. In the winter fogs let us be reminded to be still and wait for fogs to lift - to stay quietly and listen.

Spirits of the South, thank you for your presence and challenges - be with us today.

We face west and remember the life-force of EARTH (a bowl of red earth).
We call on the Spirits of the West to be with us today.

The red heart of the West and the Centre draws us to itself. A call to explore vastly different, challenging but engaging landscapes. The seemingly barren country stirs us to dig deeper into the heart of ourselves - to tap the pure clean water that rises within. The West reminds us that it too blows cold and fierce desert winds that keep us alert to change. The earth provides us with its unique fruits at this winter time - let us remember there is a season for everything.

Spirits of the West, we thank you for your presence and challenges - be with us today as we gather.

We face east and remember the life-force of WATER (a container of water).
We call on the Spirits of the East to be with us today.

The brilliant blue of the ocean, the strength of currents - these remind us of the need to forever change and grow and go with the movements life presents us - the call of the sea creatures who are not afraid to dwell in the depths; the strength, beauty and wonder of the whales who pass by us at this time; the gift of being able to so easily enter the sea to be refreshed and cleansed; the gift of the moon cycles so closely one with the oceans.

Spirits of the East, we thank you for your presence and challenges - be with us today as we gather.

We face north and remember the life-force of FIRE (a large candle - lit).
We call on the Spirits of the North to be with us today.

As we face north we feel the strength and warmth of the winter sun drawing us out of our winter coldness. We remember the penetrating, burning heat of summer and the dangers it can bring. The care of not coming too close to the sun reminds of the tantalising journey we are on - of being constantly drawn to the sun but not ever reaching it. We know the ancient freshness of the northern rainforests and the intrigue of reefs which remind us that whatever nourishment we need is always available to us.

Spirits of the North, we thank you for your presence and challenges - be with us today as we gather.

Leader: Invite people before they sit to take one of the leaves from the centre - sit and take some time to reflect on:
a) an inner darkness that has presented itself to you at this time and
b) a world issue (small or large) that causes you sadness, grief, anxiety at this time...

Spend time with that - then invite people to share with someone near them... or if anyone wants to say anything before putting their leaf into the fire.

Sing: Living, Breathing, Dying, Rising, I am the light.

Leader: We are now going to enter into a Solstice meditation so...

Find a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Release all pent-up energy and stress. Inhale and exhale again, and sense the sacred space that surrounds you. Draw into yourself the pure golden energy of the winter sun. Feel it spread out from you and it touch your neighbour's sacred space. Feel it spread out and fill this room with Love and Light and Peace.

Now see or sense that you are in the bush, on the coldest, darkest, night of the year. You feel perfectly safe and protected. See the tall grey gum trees around you standing guard with their evergreen leaves. See the river in front of you - the water is oh so cold. You hear fish jump. Hear the ground crackle as you walk and the smell of the gum leaves as you walk on them. Your nose is cold, but you feel fine... alive, and brisk, and well. The cold sharpens your senses.

You feel as though you can hear sounds you have never heard before. Ssssh. Listen for them. What do you hear? (silence) You can see wonderful things you have never been seen before, both with your outer vision and your inner vision. Watch them. What do you see? (silence - allow time)

In the darkness wonderful visions and ideas and solutions come to you... answers to problems you are facing. Remedies for distress. Cures for diseases are arriving. If you are looking for an answer to a problem, now is the time to be open to its arrival. Tell it that it is welcome, and that it can find safe lodging with you. (silence)

Now sit quietly and appreciate the darkness and the clarity of the cold. Be aware of the energy of life beneath the dark, cold ground. Feel your connection with the seeds sleeping there, gathering strength and storing nourishment for their coming appearance on earth. Feel the connection with the seeds of your life getting ready to blossom in good health and vibrancy. In the safety of the dark and the cold, new healthy life is getting ready to appear.

Breathe deeply and exhale. Focus on golden warm light the sun brings you. Feel it warming you, providing inner heat. See or sense its light spreading inside you. Feel its golden rays connect you to all of life... Feel your hands and feet tingle with warmth, as you stand in the dark, cold bush on this dark, cold night. Sense the halo of warm, nurturing heat that is now surrounding you...

Know that you have the safety and healing powers of both heat and cold. Know that you are balanced and whole. Feel that you are safely rooted into the ground, but that your spirit is free. Know that both the darkness and the light are safe for you.

Focus on any area that needs healing. Allow the darkness and light to penetrate that area with healing power. Take a deep breath and feel both alert and relaxed. Feel safe. Take a deep breath and say thank you to the powers that be for this feeling of safety and well-being. (silence)

Take a deep breath and ask for continued protection for you and your safety and well-being, and for anyone about whom you are concerned. (silence)

Take a deep breath and ask for continued protection for this planet and all its beings. Take a deep breath and envision world peace. (silence)

When you are ready, gently open your eyes...

Leader: I invite you now to come forth and place your leaf back into the centre - take some fresh seeds and plant them - these seeds are a symbol of our hope and belief and courage to know that from out of darkness new life comes - a reminder that we need to recognise the seeds of growth and nurture them in our own inner warmth until the light returns - as we gather here for the Spring Equinox may we have flowers of colour to enjoy!

Once seeds have been planted people are asked to take a candle and light it from the SUN candle and stand to conclude our time together.

Honouring the Winter Times: (invite different people to read each one)

1. We know the sun is at its furthest point from us at this time. We are grateful for the changes this brings and the opportunities this provides us with.

2. We know this is the turning time - a new journey begins for the sun and for us at this time. We honour the chances for the new journeys we need to take and ask for courage.

3. We honour the growth, energy and life force of things and concepts we cannot see, and recognise that they are manifesting even when hidden.

4. We honour our faith in the silence, darkness and mystery of life, from which new creation emerges.

5. We honour the places of the cold, dark, silent, safe incubation - the earth, the sea, the human heart, the human mind, the womb... where life, solutions and inspirations find the nourishment and fertile space in which to begin their journeys.

6. We honour and reclaim our hope in the face of darkness and trouble, knowing that the seeds of change are always present.

7. We honour our staying power, collectively and individually... for having the energy to "see" something through until the end, despite the struggle and darkness.

8. As the sun begins its journey back to us again, we honour our moments and opportunities of rebirth.

All: We honour our journeys and say THANK YOU for all the stages and seasons of our lives - may we be blessed with hope and listening hearts.


Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ, the light of the world to you.


June 2001


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