The next Solstice is Friday, December 21st (specifically at 22:22 UTC, 2:22pm PST, when the sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn). The solstices are the extremes of the year; the December solstice marks the shortest day and beginning of winter north of the tropics, and the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer south of the tropics. Around the times of the solstices, the sun appears to stop changing the path of the arc it follows across the sky. People see the sun rising and setting at nearly the same place in the days just before and after the actual moment of the solstice.
For celebrations of the Solstices, important themes are:
Celebrating the Sun
Pausing for Reflection
Contrasts (day/night, light/dark)
For the summer solstice, Abundance and Vigor are also key themes to incorporate in your celebrations.
For the winter solstice, Endings and New Beginnings, and Endurance are appropriate themes.
What to Do
Here are a few ideas for things you may wish to do as part of a Novasutras Solstice celebration:
Meditate for a world abiding in agaya and ubuntu
Participate in the global Novasutras solstice meditation during the exact moment of the Solstice – December 21st at 22:22 UTC, if feasible.
If you’d like to join the simultaneous global meditation, there will be a guided meditation from 2200-2230 UTC on the Novasutras YouTube channel. (Invite your friends with these Dec 2018 Solstice flyers, set for Pacific Standard Time — contact us if you’d like flyers for a different time zone.)
Co-Create a Novasutras Symbol
Engage all participants in the creation of the Novasutras symbol (see this video on creating the symbol as a ritual or meditation). This can be similar to casting a circle and calling the corners in neo-pagan and various indigenous rituals, as a way to open a sacred space for the gathered community. But while it should be done with reverence, in agaya and ubuntu, it need not be solemn.
On the beach, it can be drawn by participants following each other and scuffing their feet in a kind of dance, or by one or more people drawing with sticks.
You could create a symbol large enough for all participants to stand in, and let them arrange themselves by color they’re wearing (or provide hats, masks, signs, etc?), then have everyone briefly meditate on agaya and ubuntu as represented by that portion of the symbol.
To produce something like a mandala, people could bring appropriate materials to co-create the symbol: leaves and flowers; feathers; seeds, grains, cornmeal (of different colors); chalk or sand; colored stones or beads; or just draw on newsprint or butcher paper with paints or markers. Weather permitting, you could even do a litter clean-up at a beach or park, sort the objects found by color, and array them in the symbol.
Be sure to include ‘sweeping up’ in the closing of your celebration, making sure that all materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Solstice Crowns and Garlands
Adorn yourself and your event-space with vegetation that honors the season: summer flowers in the southern hemisphere in celebration of the abundant sunshine; evergreens in the northern hemisphere in recognition of their tenacity and adaptability. Everywhere, plants must attune themselves to the seasons and make the best of the available sunlight – this holds important lessons for human communities also. By honoring their evolutionary genius and celebrating their sensual beauty, we become the partners of plants through ubuntu and agaya.
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) come from the yoga traditions. You may choose to do 108 Sun Salutations in one session (108 is considered an auspicious number in Hindu traditions), at dawn, noon and/or sunset, or simply do one or a few at any or each of those times nearest the solstice where you are. The sun salutation is fairly easy and safe for healthy beginners, and it is fun to do in large groups. Hereareafewmorevideostohelpyoulearnhowtodothem (full playlist).
South of the equator, December Solstice sun salutations celebrate the abundance, warmth and vigor of the sun at its highest and most bountiful. North of the equator, you may think of these December Solstice sun salutations as a practice to ‘encourage’ and celebrate the return of the sun (as your days will now begin to grow longer).
Song and Dance
One of the main ways that humans the world over celebrate in community is to make music and dance together. In the so-called-developed world, we have grown accustomed to music as performed by professionals and merely enjoyed by spectators. While this is delightful and also welcome, it is insufficient to the natural process of community. Find simple songs, and encourage everyone to participate in singing them.
Where they feel appropriate to agaya and ubuntu (such as We Are the Rising Sun or We Are the Power in Everyone, kindly provided to the world by Campfire Chants) these simple songs and chants can remain unmodified. If you have a favorite traditional, folk, or spiritual song that does not provide a good reflection of agaya and ubuntu, change the lyrics to better suit the intentions of a Novasutras gathering. Encourage those that have acoustic instruments to bring them and play along as they can (drums, guitars and ukuleles work well outdoors).
Similarly, keep ‘dancing’ simple and fun. The Spiral Dance developed by Starhawk is a wonderful option, but a simple ‘conga line’ that becomes a circle (or better yet, two concentric circles traveling in opposite directions), or even the ‘Hokey Pokey,’ can be easy and fun for participants of all ages.
Share Food and Drink
Whether it’s a full-meal potluck or just a small sacramental bite or sip of something meaningful, sharing food in community is a uniquely human way to strengthen ubuntu. Don’t neglect the importance of this aspect of celebratory gatherings. Novasutras cookies might be nice.
If you are inviting participants to bring food, ask them to be respectful of agaya and ubuntu in their choice of what to bring, and ask people to avoid ‘disposable’ materials (particularly plastics) in both food packaging and serving materials (plates, cups, cutlery).
Be sure to include ‘washing/packing up’ in the closing of your celebration, seeing that materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Other Ritual Activities
For outdoor celebrations, you may time them to include sunrise, solar noon, or sunset, taking that time to observe the sun at its highest point in the sky, or its most northerly setting or rising position. Some may choose to stack rocks for small markers of the sunrise or sunset point when viewed from a specific place.
All could participate in pouring water into a shared bowl or pitcher, then anointing themselves and/or splashing the water, along with some kind of blessing or intention. A bowl that creates a good reflection when filled with water can be even more directly symbolic, with an invitation for each person to pause and reflect on the months since the last solstice, and upcoming year.
Participants could be encouraged to bring masks or costumes (or a longer event could include materials and opportunities to construct these) representing one or more of the themes of the Solstice (the sun, reflection, contrasts, abundance, vigor, new beginnings, etc).
Participants could bring small items to represent one or more of the themes of the Solstice celebration, decoratively adding them to a community altar toward the beginning of the celebration then deconstructing the altar at the end.
Invite Your Community
Perhaps you just want to have a small gathering with like-minded friends. But if you are willing, Solstice celebrations are a great opportunity to talk with new people about Novasutras. Let us know about your plans, and we’ll add them to our Events page.
Post a few fliers (template for fliers) to publicize your local event, directing people to the Novasutras website for more information about events. Contact us if you want our to help promote your local Novasutras Solstice event .