Winter Solstice: A Liturgy For Alban Arthan 2016 [‘Lighten Our Darkness…’]

161220-alban-2016-celtic-litrugyYes, tomorrow marks, for those in the northern hemisphere, the shortest day, the longest night, the wonderful time of the Winter Solstice; or Alban Arthan as it is known in Wales.

The Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, 21 December 2016 , and many will celebrate as the sun rises  at 8.04am, in London, UK (albeit some 20 minutes later in north Wales).

In the Druidic tradition the name ‘Alban Arthan’, is Welsh for ‘Light of Winter’. And so it is time of merriment around the camp or village fire for  Celts, Druids, Welsh folk of old, a time to light candles in the darkest of times, and a time to acknowledge that deep in the earth the seeds of hope are becoming active, and that Light and spring are on their way. It is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal.

Some Druids believe this light to be the Light of the hero King Arthur Pendragon who  is symbolically reborn as the Sun Child at the time of the Solstice. Others see the Light belonging to the star constellation known as the Great Bear (or the Plough). Others have many varied beliefs. Some, myself included, acknowledge many viewpoints out of respect for others, but focus on this light as being the Light of the Christ-child at this time.

‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ Leonard Cohen

It is a most wonderful event when you gather a group of people together, who acknowledge that something wonderful happened and symbolically happens again and again, and each respects the other’s view knowing that it differs, but also knowing that the occasion is bigger, much bigger than the individual or even the ‘tribe’ they hail from. Truly, awe takes over.

For Iranian people, many celebrate the night of the winter solstice as, ‘Yalda night’, which known to be the ‘longest and darkest night of the year’. It’s a time when all the family gather together, usually at the house of the oldest family-member, and celebrate it by eating, drinking and reading poems (especially Hafiz). Nuts, pomegranates and watermelons are also served during this festival.

‘I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.’ Hafiz

At this time, The Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival is celebrated, and it is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese people. Traditional food, such tangyuan are served – these are glutinous balls of rice (equivalent to our dumplings, maybe), and can be served in a savoury or sweet broth.

How will you celebrate it?

You might be part of a Grove, faith-group or ‘tribe’, but if you’re not then the following suggestions can be used in part or adapted as suits your requirements. A simple meditation of gratitude before breakfast, or a lighting of a candle and a few words would suffice.

Here are some ideas (from previous articles) that you might consider using:

The ‘Circle is Turning’ (Winter Solstice version)
A few words have been adapted for the song to be used at the time of the Winter Solstice. It is full of depth and pathos – click here for the tune. It ‘fits’ the tune (with a bit of manoeuvring) and starts at 11 seconds into the video. The poem/song:

The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

The trees, they slumber.
Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber.
Deep roots are dreaming.
The trees, they slumber.
Deep roots are dreaming.
I’m listening to the winter’s sacred rest.

The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The snow is falling,
the earth is bless-éd.
The hope of spring, ye-et to come.

The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
The Circle is turning,
we celebrate winter.
And nature sleeps, as the darkness falls.

– oOo –

Candle-lighting liturgy: Requirement: 5 Candles and a candleholder (Advent-style)

The following is recited, as the first candle is lit:

All: We walked in darkness, but you showed us the light. We pray for those that walk in darkness, that they, too, may see the light that shines in the darkness. (Based on Isaiah 9.2)

The following is recited, as the second candle is lit:

All: The light shines in the darkness, still. And the darkness did not comprehend it. We give thanks for the light that guides us. (Based on John 1:5)

The following is recited, as the third candle is lit:

All: You are the light of the world, and indwell us, so that we become a light in the world. We seek ways to live out that light in our life, in service to all. (Based on Matthew 5:14)

The following is recited, as the fourth candle is lit:

All: There will be no night there, because Your light will illumine us. We praise you for that great promise of light. (Based on Revelation 22:5)

The following is recited, as the fifth candle is lit:

All: Light from Light Eternal, born this happy morning, we greet you. (Based on a carol, based on ancient sacred text)

– oOo –

Prayer For the Winter Solstice sunrise

Standing. Recite, facing south:
In this time when it is darkest,
we offer gratitude for all that was and is,
and for all that is about to be born in secret.

Recite, facing west:
In this season of expectation
we draw near in unity and peace for all,
to offer praise and worship to the Spirit of all.

Recite, facing north:
At this intersection of time and space
when Heaven touches Earth,
we look forward in anticipation and hope
to the year ahead.

Recite, facing east as the sun rises:
Yea, Lord, we greet you,
born this happy morning.
Brother Sun, who brings the day and gives light
testifies to your birth, and re-birth in our hearts.

– oOo –

Meanwhile, however and wherever you celebrate the Winter Solstice this year, please accept my blessing, both to you and those whom you love.. Blessings, Tadhg

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work
You do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal…

(John O’Donohue)

4 thoughts on “Winter Solstice: A Liturgy For Alban Arthan 2016 [‘Lighten Our Darkness…’]

  1. this is lovely* thanks tadhg*, and i’ve taken one or two bits to add to our yule ritual which we’ll do in the morning. i am hoping to start writing a little carol this holiday, its my challenge using my new Sibelius software. i’ve just written my own arrangement of gartan mother’s lullaby for our choir, which we’ve performed accompanied by my harp. so this seems like my next little challenge. i’m on the lookout for some words to set to the eventual tune, so i may be in touch for some inspiration! i’ll have a look through what i’ve collected first. thanks so much for your wise words this year, and i wish you a peaceful yule and 2017. *annie* *northumberland*

    On Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 4:44 PM, Tadhg Talks… wrote:

    > Tadhg posted: ” Yes, tomorrow marks, for those in the northern hemisphere, > the shortest day, the longest night, the wonderful time of the Winter > Solstice; or Alban Arthan as it is known in Wales. The Winter Solstice is > on Wednesday, 21 December 2016 , and many will ce” >

    Liked by 1 person

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