Solstice Advent Spiral Dance

spiral centerAn invitation from Joanne to the beautiful solstice celebration that was offered as a part of Spirit Moves dance night~

Dancers,

This Thursday’s Spirit Moves is a special one. It is not only our last dance of 2013 but it is also a Winter Solstice celebration. The evening is a sacred co-creation (including songs suggestions by many of you), a crystal bowl meditation offered by Yvonne, and with the help of Wendi and others, we will be creating an Advent Spiral, with evergreen branches.crystal bowls

Each of us will have an opportunity to walk through the spiral and light a candle at the central flame. As we travel into the spiral, we may also travel into ourselves~ a symbolic journey to our own central flame. Because at the heart of us all is a beautiful divine light. During this walk, it is up to you to find your own meaning, to set your own intentions or dreams.

Winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year. We acknowledge this darkness while we joyously celebrate the sun’s slow and steady return. It is an opportunity for spiritual renewal, and an embracing of hope through the darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer and warmer.

spiral starsDeep Mid-Winter drawing near,
Darkness in our Garden here – –

One small flame yet bravely burns
To show a path which ever turns.
Earth, please bear us as we go,
Seeking Light to send a-glow:

Branches green and moss and fern,
Mark our path to trace each turn.
Brother animals, teach us too
To serve with patience as you do.
We walk with candle toward the Light
While Earth awaits with hope so bright:
In the Light which finds new birth
Love may spread o’er all the Earth.
Deep Mid-Winter drawing near – –

May Light arise in our Garden here.~ N. Foster

dance spiralI invite you all to come and light a candle. Let’s move our bodies in celebration our own divine light and for the light we see in each other. When we shine brightly, we illuminate the path for others to shine too.  

I’m sure happy to spin around and around in this spirally galaxy (and on the dance floor) with you all.  

Messier 83 - Central regionIt was a beautiful night, with the reverberating sounds of six crystal bowls being played rotationally as people walked through the spiral.  Thank you Joanne, for these inspirational words and super swirling and joyful music to dance to.  Thanks to everyone who made the evening shine.

Unity as a New World

Unity and trust come from knowing that we are not separate from the creative forces of the universe.

I would like to celebrate the unification of all living beings of this great universe, to the oneness that we all are, to unity.  Knowing deeply that we are created from the same matter and energy that began the universe, the galaxy, and the planet is a step in understanding that we ARE creative energy.  By allowing this flowing of creation to evolve the quality of our lives and the life of that which sustains us, the earth, we can dream into being the solutions for the challenges that appear around us at this time.  We cannot do this alone, however.  We already understand the power of a collective, the magnitude of multiple and millions of us joined together.  I believe in our abilities as humans to lift the ego’s and dualities of the places that we are at this time as humanity, bringing us to a oneness with the source of divine energy and so living our daily lives with peace, joy, and equality.

There are many branches that lead us to the light of the open sky.

This will require a restructuring of the basics of our values.  In the past, groups of people living together functioned under a set of common values that guided how those people communicated, used and shared resources, ate, developed relationships, and conducted spiritual rituals.  Today, our values can be so vastly different from every one of our neighbors that we have become isolated in our communities and enveloped in ignorance, fear, or judgements about who they are and who we are.  Who is right and who is wrong?  Who is capable, worthy, rich, lucky, smart, and who is not?  We see these values as the defining qualities that make us either good or bad, or somewhere in between.  These limitations become the lens in which we view the world and everything in it, including the ideas that separate spiritual beliefs into religions.  Separating ourselves from each other in this way leads millions of people down the road to depression and anger, isolation and judgement.

But really, we are born with the solution.  We come into this world from the source of our spirits merged with the source of the spirit that created us.  In our most intelligent and intuitive state, we chose the parents we needed for this journey of physical being.  We are teachers, even as we first emerge.  We come loaded with trust and purity, with energetic receptors and unconditional love.  But we are also sponges, absorbing the words and energies of everything around us, capable of amplifying and mirroring our influences.  As we grow into adults, those influences become our lenses as well, whether we follow the same limitations or abruptly turn away from them in protest.

We are beings of emotions and senses.  We cannot help but feel.  We take on, through sight and sound, through touch and taste and smell, the emotions of the world.  We are not meant to be shut down, to be limited, to be programmed.  We are the expression of the emotions that we connect with and empathize with if only we are allowed to.  It is through these levels of expression that we process the emotions that rise and fall, and so turn emotions into revelations.  Revelations in turn spark the next steps of our actions, which become offers to those around us, gifts that may be taken up and integrated into someone else’s expression.  Good and bad become the same thing- moments that shape us with opportunities of expression and deeper understanding.  We are all in different stages of this process.  Unity does not mean that we will cease to feel the turbulence of living.  It seeks to erase the lines of separation, and so cushioning each of us with a secure knowledge of belonging and worthiness in the light of divine love.  With this understanding, compassion blossoms, and so too, the doors to unconditional love and the return to our inner child.

Something big is coming.
It’s still a secret, but arriving everywhere.
The atmosphere is charged with longing and searching.
The pilgrims and the mystery-lovers know.
They are gathering now
The sound of prayer drifts across the dawn.
It’s Muslim, Jew, Christian
All mingled
All religions
All this singing
One Song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
The sunlight looks a little different on this wall
Than it does on that.
And a lot different on this other one.
But it’s still one light.
We have borrowed these clothes
These time and place personalities
From a Light.
And when we praise,
We’re pouring them back in.

–Rumi
Joy is a return to the deep harmony of body, mind, and spirit
that was yours at birth and that can be yours again.
That openness to love, that capacity for wholeness
with the world around you, is still within you.
-Deepak Chopra

Summer Solstice Celebration

“The Sun, each second, transforms four million tons of itself into light, giving itself over to become energy that we, with every meal, partake of. For four million years, humans have been feasting on the Sun’s energy stored in the form of wheat or reindeer, as each day the Sun dies as Sun and is reborn as the vitality of Earth. Every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth: She is the energy of the Sun. And we adults should organize things so her face shines with the same radiant joy. Human generosity is possible only because at the center of the solar system a magnificent stellar generosity pours forth free energy day and night without stop and without complaint and without the slightest hesitation. This is the way of the universe. This is the way of life. And this is the way in which each of us joins this cosmological lineage when we accept the Sun’s gift of energy and transform it into creative action that will enable the community to flourish.” – Brian Swimme, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos video

The creation of our first summer solstice celebration came about so easily and quickly, moving from the seeds of suggestion to a beautifully co-created ritual, potluck, and campfire within a week.  It was like a mini process of the time between the winter solstice of idea dreaming and the final flourish of the height of the sun’s expansive energy of manifestation – a theme which also became the foundation on which we reflected during our ritual activities.  I began pondering the idea after a conversation with our friends’ Anna and Tim about what we do for solstice, if anything.  My response was that I had always wanted to do something…. but had never really acted on creating my own ritual for this time of year.  We consulted some books and discussed past experiences that elicited thoughts about what opportunities arise for us during solstice, when the sun’s light is at the most expansive, but also tipping towards the decrease.  I reflected on my past intentions to make these seasonal cycles more a part of my families and my communities awareness in celebration and ceremony, bringing to light our spiritual connection to the earth.  It seems to me that the fractions of religion have left many of us spiritually isolated in beliefs that do not centralize around a church- and although many in my community do share the same central church of the earth, community festivals and rituals that acknowledge these spiritual journeys are either missing, or take place in small, private settings.  I was very encouraged with the response to hosting a solstice celebration – everyone I invited was excited to participate and those who couldn’t come were hopeful that they could make it next year.  (There already was a next year.)  It seemed to fill a void for many I talked to, who said they usually spent the night with a few candles and a drum dancing around by themselves, or, like myself, had just never taken the time to create a celebration.  For our homeschooling group, it was a natural continuation of the Waldorf Advent Spiral that we have been celebrating together for three years on the winter solstice.  (See my older post on the Waldorf Advent Spiral.)

Once I began sprouting my ideas, I was committed –  my vague thoughts found roots in Anna and Tim’s soils of visualization.  We brought the theme of magical wood folk for everyone to dress in, and extended invitations to those we thought would like to take on a role during the evening.  We spent a day clearing a walking trail through the forest of our property, and raked up the piles of grass that our neighbor Lester had very timely scythed for us.  We set up a place on a flat rock beside the pond where Joanne created a solstice altar, and we invited everyone to bring something to add to it during the evening.  Then, after we all gathered in our magical wood folk attire in a circle of almost 50, we began with a simple meditation of grounding and listening.  As the sounds of the evening birds filled the still sunlit air, it occurred to me that I had suddenly come into a role that I had never imagined in my intentions, but that felt natural and easy despite my total lack of experience in leading a meditation to a large group and speaking about the energies of summer solstice and how we can reflect on our inner journeys at this time.  I had tried to do some writing as to what I thought I might say, and just couldn’t get it right.  But for three days I had been listening – to my inner dialogue, thoughts, revelations, and insights to help prepare myself for the time of this ritual, although it had been for my own reasons of understanding, not because I saw myself in the role of the “grand ma’am” speaking to everyone else.  There were things I forgot to say, and I tried to keep things short and simple so as to include all the children while engaging the contemplations of the adults.

We started with the time of the winter solstice when our ideas were the seeds of our dreams, and everyone received a piece of cloth and a stone.  We began our journey around the pond, contemplating the energies of germination.  At some point, we tossed our stones into the universe of the pond, and watched the expanding rings of our ideas begin the chain of action.  Then we followed the trail into the forest – empty, and ready to receive.  Along the trail, we met with a variety of beings, each offering a gift with a message.  There was a young man of the moss with a message of grounding, and a grandmother with rosemary and the words of remembrance and love.  A father and son gave cedar, for strong roots and a soaring spirit, and two sweet girls gave fennel for joy.  In a clearing there was a woman that danced and soared with the abundance of summer grain, and finally, a beautiful mother with the gift of wild rose in beauty and heart.  We explored the trail and the little treasures along the way with giggles, in contemplation, with friends hands’ near by, and with eagerness to explore.  As everyone emerged back where we started, a simple song greeted and invited new voices until all of us had returned with our gifts.  Lastly, we sent around a long white ribbon which everyone held onto – amazingly this spool of ribbon ended exactly with the circumference of our circle.  I invited everyone to take part in offering a word into the circle that described a world they deemed as sacred – so that collectively we would create a vision of a healthy, life sustaining community in which to live.  It could have been endless, I am sure – ideas cascaded into each other as we all threw inspiration into the vision – flowers, trees, birds, hugs, tears, bears, watermelon, ice cream, lego, leaves, star wars, space, the milky way, ice cream (again), friends, mothers, fathers, babies, beetles, clay, sand… all imbued into the white ribbon we all held.  Finally we went around and cut the ribbon so that each person had a little piece, which became a perfect tie for keeping together our gifts in the piece of cloth.  In this way, we sent out our individual dreams, collected skills and gifts, then came together in a group to share and build a world that supports each of us and our goals.  Then we feasted!

After dinner we spent some time folding origami boats and boxes with the help of the Kikuchi family.  We placed them on small squares of cedar wood, put a tea light candle inside, and sent them off on the pond with wishes and prayers.  We lit the altar candles, started up a fire, and got out some instruments.  Everyone made a fine effort to stay up to see the Milky Way, but eventually families and neighbors drifted back to their beds.  Except for us and two other families – we pulled out our sleeping bags and spent the night gazing at the crescent moon as it made its way across the late night sky.  It was indeed a beautiful beautiful night.

I am so happy to be finally opening up our land in this way.  This was the first gathering of any kind we have had since all the excavation took place three years ago.  The pond is alive with plants and bugs, the marshy field is dried out and level and ready for orchard plantings, the piles of construction scraps have been cleared away.  We have laid the groundwork for our sanctuary, and I am sure it will continue to change, grow and flourish with the cycles of the land and seasons as will I and the community of family and friends around us, in support and in celebration.

Thanks to Joanne and Kenta for some of these photos.  Ideas for this ceremony were learned from Earth Wisdom – A Heartwarming Mixture of the Spiritual, the Practical, and the Proactive, by Glennie Kindred, as well from our own imaginations and experiences.

Dancing the spirit sacred

“DANCE IS A SPIRITUAL CHANNEL, AN OPENING OF METAPHYSICAL AND SENSUOUS DOORWAYS. EVERY DANCER KNOWS HER GOAL: TO GET TO THAT POINT WHERE THE BODY NO LONGER STANDS IN THE WAY BUT BECOMES THE INSTRUMENT OF THE SOUL’S EXPRESSION, THE BODY, AND PSYCHE WORKING TOGETHER. THE FEELINGS OF JOY, HOPE, RENEWAL AND SPIRITUAL CONNECTIONS THAT WE CAN EXPERIENCE THROUGH SACRED DANCE ARE NOT ALWAYS FELT BY THE BEGINNER. A PERIOD OF DISCIPLINE AND TRAINING, A SHAMAN’S JOURNEY. GRADUALLY INNER AND OUTER WORLDS FUSE, AND THE DANCER CAN MOVE BEYOND CONSCIOUS CONCERN WITH THE PHYSICALITY AND PERFECTION OF FORM. WHEN WE ARRIVE AT THIS PLACE WE ARE CONNECTING WITH THE MUSIC AND THE MYSTICAL AND THE ETHEREAL, SURRENDERING TO A POWER THAT USES US. WE ARE DANCED!”

On Pender Island, we have just begun dancing again.  I am sure that, looking into the long past, there have been many days and nights of such dance in these forests. In the 5 or 6 years that we have been gathering to dance- through a few different forms and names and coming and goings of people and numbers- our intent has always been strong in holding a judgement free zone of sacred honouring through movement, writing, drawing, meditation, yoga, the many facets of creative expression.  It took awhile to get going really, in the beginning we were all struggling a little to find out what actually fit- music was a little off, or nobody would have a key for the hall, setting up the sound gear was hit and miss.  Communication and organization really- but when it came together we understood the greater reason for persistence.  What we needed was a leader, a guide, who had great music and themes of contemplation, someone to give us some ground to leap from, opening us up to the possibilities.  Our friend Nicola stepped forwards- she was only just beginning herself, exploring 5 rhythms dance workshops, and having a willingness to test her own waters about facilitating such a space.  She gave us inner explorations, and outer excercises like witness dancing, mirror dancing, spoken word dancing- she gave opportunities to really throw down the barriers and be exposed to ourselves and others in trust.  She also instigated the altar- candles, colours, thematic objects, cards, paper and pencils.  In and out of a few years,  Nicola led us through her own discoveries until just last year, when she moved to a neighboring island with her family.

A few of us knew at that point that dance nights would not end because or guide was gone- but that we were ready to step up with the tools needed to continue to offer the same space to those who would come.  While we are not offering the deep guidance that Nicola had, we are opening the space to a collective presence- much like we first envisioned but stumbled to achieve in the beginning.  We invite women and men, young and old, anyone who is wanting to be in this space and uphold the sacredness.  People can sit, lie, stretch, write, draw, paint, or just breathe.  We accept anyone who would like to put together the playlist for a night, with or without a theme.  Our music is always diverse with everyone’s individual musical style, and as we share, it expands us all.  We keep a “library” of past playlists available for copying, and it is not unusual to hear a song pulled from those past nights.  We are creating a wide foundation of music.  The building of the altar, which is usually taken on by whoever is doing the playlist, (but doesn’t have to be) holds us together in beauty and sacred meditation, and allows any discussion of revelations, epiphanies, heart murmurings, or places of shadows.  We have explored earth, air, fire, water, solstices, passion, joy, healing, forgiveness, innocence, gratitude, the cosmos, and whatever other energies develop throughout the year.  Recently I read an idea put forth by Dr. Masaru Emoto, which said, “E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness.”  I have felt this to be so true during dance many times, that our collective energies are more powerfully charged when we move together, when we feel together, when we love together.  It is infectious.  We have held healing circles for friends, sent prayers to far away places, and chanted sanskrit mantras together.  We laugh in shared stories of our lives.  It is a small island- we are all connected in ways outside of these nights- in other groups, in professional jobs, in the roles we hold in our community.  I think it is brilliant that another layer of our interactions is open in the sacred way of this creative space- may it lead to a deeper honouring of each other in every day.

We are not a huge group, by any means.  I have noticed though, that since december 2010, our regular average has gone up from around 8 to 25.  It is not many still, but it makes the community hall where we dance seem like a maze of bodies to weave through.  I think the foundation is growing.  I think there is an awareness that collective consciousness, stemming from our individual self care and love, is simply just a good thing to do.  Release and refresh.  Dance and be danced.

I would like to send gratitude to those people and forces that have helped shape these beautiful evenings along the way with such a natural procession of growth and evolution.  May the journey continue.

Artwork here is by Joanne Green, Pender resident and fellow sacred dancer.  Visit her site for beautiful mandalas and images of  spirit and nature.  www.joannegreenart.com

Winter Solstice Advent Spiral

For three years now, our Spring Leaves homeschool group has gathered together to celebrate the winter solstice with a traditional Waldorf Advent Spiral.  Well, traditional in the structure, but as always with our group, the additions of our own expressions of creativity make the celebration unique to us and our expanding, multi-age group.  

A few of us begin creating the spiral on the ground, by gathering clipped branches of cedar, fir, and other nearby evergreens.  The boughs are laid so that they form the edges of a pathway which winds inwards, then curls slightly back on itself and winds outwards, so that the path in and the path out is continuous and can be walked through in one direction.  In the center we place a large candle set up on a rock so that it creates a strong central focal point.  This year, our group collectively bought supplies for making candles, and so the central candle was a beautiful, homemade beeswax pillar candle.  Everyone was invited to bring an object representing a blessing, gratitude, a wish, an honouring, or just something close to their hearts.  We had photos of family members, crystals, feathers, lego men, a jar of water, a sculpted tree, and little animals amoung the treasures.  These were placed somewhere along the evergreen pathway, along with many golden stars cut out from thick poster paper.  Taeven, Cedar and I had cut the stars earlier on in the day, and we wrote and drew words and designs of inspiration, such as light, peace, joy, earth, friends, life, animals, etc.  We decided to place these messages facing down so that as everyone walked through the spiral with their candles, the stars are all simple and anonymous.

The whole group gathered around the circle at dark, as the first stars began shining in the clear and still december air.  We started by welcoming, and setting our intention of honouring the returning of the nourishing sunlight in our  journey through the cycles of the year.  We brought awareness to the four directions from which the cycles flow, and to the paths of our ancesters from around the globe whose travels have brought each of us to this place in time.  We thanked the energies of the four elements, each of which brings energy that shapes our world and ourselves, and finally, we honoured the center of the circle, the constant light of unity and wholeness in which we and the living entities of earth and the universe are all interconnected.  Then we had a visit from the Lady of Winter, dressed all in white and flowing down to dance among us while we shared the reciting of a solstice prayer.

Then we invited the youngest of our group to enter into the spiral with their unlit candle and walk towards the center candle, from which they light their own.  As they continue along the path, they find a star and place their candle on the ground on the star, and then follow the path back out.  As each child and adult does this, the spiral path is slowly filled with little flaming candles, a reflection of the collective light that is created by all our own individual lights flickering together.  The treasures begin to glow softly in the light.  It is such a peaceful joy to witness our children making their way through the dimly lit path, finding the source of the light to make their own, and then creating a space for their light in the collective.  It is also a wonderful thing to do for ourselves, as adults and parents, taking time for this simple action of honoring and holding the space for recognizing our place here in the turning of the wheel of the year.

And then of course, we feast!  A potluck dinner and warm drinks are prepared inside the home of one of our families, who gratefully offered to host us all.  It is a wonderful way to connect with the other families who are on this similar path of lifestyle, and with whom ideas and inspiration exchange.  We can have the tendency to be isolated, and so it is with gratitude that I take these opportunities to get to know the larger group as individuals, and the gifts and talents that everybody holds in their uniqueness.  It is also fun to have the diversity of the kids all coming together in a free and neutral space, where friendships develop between those who are simply drawn to each other, without boundaries of age or gender.  As everyone gathered up their candles and treasures, we invited them to take home the star from under their candle, and we hope that the message they found on the star brightened up the night even further!  Thanks to Kenta Kikuchi for these lovely photos!  I look forwards to experiencing what we create again next year.

My Voice

So here are my first words going out into this big space….and right now it feels as if I am only myself, writing to myself, writing my thoughts to only my own voice and consideration.  But I am also acutely aware of the possibility that I am writing to the immense and infinite number of voices out there, to the potential of a vast network of ideas and solutions that support a new picture of the world that we live in.  Even if I inspire one person out there with one idea, I will have accomplished the purpose of this blog- which is to give of what I have inside.  To inspire, in spirit, from my spirit to you and to the spirit of the universe, visions that will lead us into a future that connects and sustains our selves within the living entity of the earth.  The universe is reflecting back to us that which we give, and as I look around at what we are currently living amongst, I am strongly motivated to encourage thoughts and actions of beauty, respect, and love.  Imagine the world that you want to live in- let those visions inspire you to take the actions that will create that world.  Let the world around you help inspire your visions!  It can be easy to let fear become the motivator for the things we do, instead of feeling the positive waves of action that come when we are inspired by something or someone, no matter how big or small.  So let the spiral of inspiration begin!  Or rather, let it join up with the spirals that already swirl around us, expanding us exponentially.

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