December Solstice 2023
To celebrate this Solstice, Dr. Michelle Merrill will lead guided meditations, interactive celebratory practices, and compassionate conversation. Celebrations feature a message of global wellness, joy and loving-kindness for all beings. We are invited to reconnect with the beauty and wonder of Nature. How do we welcome more love and joy for all our relations? What shall we leave behind, as we move into the next turning of our dance around the Sun? What beautiful possibilities beckon us toward the future?
When is the Solstice?
The precise moment of this Solstice is December 22nd, 2023 at 03:27 UTC (Dec 21st 7:27pm Pacific), when the sun will be at Latitude: 23° 26′ South (the Tropic of Capricorn), Longitude: 128° 04′ East. Our Octal Celebration provides an ecospiritual connection to the Earth-Sun dance from a global perspective.
*When & where will we gather for Novasutras Celebrations of the Solstice?
Beginning about half an hour before the precise time of the Solstice, Michelle will host a session on Insight Timer Live.
If you are on a mobile device (a phone or tablet), the link or button will just take you to the app, where you’ll need to search for this live session (by title, or by name: Michelle Merrill).
If you are on a computer/laptop, these will take you to a web page where you can view the live session in your web browser.
You can save the event to your calendar, and share with others using social media tools through the Insight Timer event – https://insig.ht/mmANjARX9Eb.
If you’re a member of the Novasutras group on Deep Transformation Network, you can RSVP to join the event and ask questions there.
After the December Solstice, our next Octal Celebration will be for the Cross-Quarter that happens in early February.
About the Solstices
The Solstices are the extremes of the year, and are key times for Novasutras celebrations. These days (in late December and late June) have been noted and celebrated by peoples all around the world. Solstice celebrations have been important ritual occasions for millennia, perhaps since the beginnings of the human species.
While local traditions often focus on specific seasonal experiences, the Solstices are global phenomena, a result of the Earth’s axial tilt and orbit around the Sun. The December Solstice, when the sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn, marks the shortest day of the year and beginning of winter north of the tropics, and the longest day and the beginning of summer south of the tropics. The June Solstice, when the sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer, is the inverse: the longest day in the north, and the shortest in the south. In Novasutras, we encourage both local and global celebrations to mark the Solstices.
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 on their horizon in the days just before and after the actual moment of the Solstice. So your Solstice celebrations can appropriately extend through the days before and after the precise moment of the Solstice.
For celebrations of the Solstices, important themes are:
- Celebrating the Sun
- Pausing for Reflection
- Contrasts (day/night, light/dark)
- Global Unity
For your summer Solstice, Abundance and Vigor are also key themes to incorporate in your celebrations. For your winter Solstice, Endings and New Beginnings, and Endurance are appropriate themes.
Meditate for a world abiding in agaya and ubuntu
Participate in the global Novasutras Solstice meditation during the exact moment of the Solstice (whether meditating on your own or with an in-person group). There will be an online guided meditation, generally on Insight Timer Live, and/or via Zoom (register on the Events page) and broadcast on the Novasutras YouTube channel. Events on Zoom also include interactive workshop components before and after the meditation, often based in the Work That Reconnects. A meditation session will usually start 15-30 minutes before the moment of the Solstice, and end 5-15 minutes after the Solstice. If you prefer, you could join by simply meditating on agaya and ubuntu at that time. Either way, we seek to join in simultaneous meditation at these precise moments (part of the Octal Meditations), to encourage global coherence.
More Ways to Celebrate
Here are a few ideas for things you may wish to do as part of Novasutras Solstice celebrations. Some of these can be done on your own, but many are better done in community. You may include a variety of personal observances and community celebrations in the days before and after the moment of the Solstice.
Solstice Mandalas, Crowns, and Garlands
Adorn yourself and your event-space with vegetation that honors the season in your hemisphere: late spring and early summer flowers and fruits in celebration of the abundant sunshine; evergreens in recognition of their tenacity and adaptability in the dark of the year. 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.
A Mandala to Celebrate the Season
A way to turn this into a festive group activity is to create a mandala together. Invite participants to bring flowers, foliage, fruits and other items that represent the season. Depending on the size of the gathering and the space, have just one person (or a few people at a time) begin arranging the items into a circle. Make sure that everyone who wants to participate has at least a few minutes to do so. You can use all of the materials that were brought, or just see if there is a group ‘feel’ for when the mandala is complete.
When the gathering disperses, allow participants to reclaim any durable items they brought. The remaining plant matter can be taken home by participants if desired, or composted.
Create/Co-Create a Novasutras Symbol
Creation of the Novasutras symbol 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. It’s easy to engage all event participants in the creation of a Novasutras symbol (see this video on creating the symbol as a personal ritual or meditation).
For community gatherings, you could create a symbol large enough for all participants to stand in. Perhaps you invite people to arrange themselves by color they’re wearing (or provide hats, masks, signs, etc. in green, blue, brown and white), then have everyone briefly meditate on agaya and ubuntu as represented by that portion of the symbol (green for beings above, white for beings below, brown for the tree beings that connect above and below, blue for beings nearby and far away or beings of the seas). On the beach, the symbol 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. On pavement, it could be drawn with sidewalk chalks or sand.
To produce something like a mandala (indoors or out), 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.
Please take pictures and share your creations – add them to our Facebook page, or use #Novasutras, #Solstice, #Agaya and #Ubuntu on other social media. Be sure to include ‘sweeping up’ in the closing of your celebration, making sure that any materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) come from the yoga traditions. You may choose to do a set of Sun Salutations for dawn, noon and/or sunset (108 is considered an auspicious number in Hindu traditions, but you may simply do one or a few, as feels appropriate), 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. Here are a few more videos to help you learn how to do them (full playlist). Solstice Sun Salutations can either celebrate the abundance, warmth and vigor of the sun at its highest and most bountiful, or be thought of as a practice to ‘encourage’ and celebrate the return of the sun (as you pass through the shortest day of the year and 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 may be welcome as an addition to your celebration, it is insufficient to the natural process of community.
Find simple songs, and invite everyone to participate in singing them. Encourage those that have acoustic instruments to bring them and play along as they can (small drums, tambourines, shakers or rattles, harmonicas and ukuleles work well outdoors). Some traditional, folk, movement or spiritual songs 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, or many songs from the Rise for Climate Change songbook or our YouTube playlist of songs for gatherings) — these simple songs and chants can remain unmodified. Our YouTube playlist– https://bit.ly/NovasutrasSongs – includes several songs that are good for sing-alongs. Around the December Solstice, you might enjoy caroling with these climate-themed revisions of well-known Christmas carols. If you have a favorite sing-along or hymn with a title or lyrics that do not provide a good reflection of agaya and ubuntu, change the words to better suit the intentions of a Novasutras gathering. (Please share your creations!)
Similarly, keep ‘dancing’ simple and fun. The Spiral Dance developed by Starhawk is a wonderful option, but you could just have a simple ‘conga line’ that becomes a circle (or two concentric circles traveling in opposite directions). Even the ‘Hokey Pokey,’ can be easy and fun for participants of all ages (maybe “…and you shake it all about. Feel agaya and ubuntu, and you turn yourself about. That’s what it’s all about!”).
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 — vegetarian or vegan items are preferable, as these are kinder to the climate and other beings. It also helps to ask people to avoid ‘disposable’ materials (particularly plastics) in both food packaging and serving materials (plates, cups, cutlery, napkins). 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, sunset, or solar noon. Take that time to observe the sun at its most northerly/southerly setting or rising position, or its highest point in the sky. Some may choose to stack rocks or set other markers to indicate direction of the sunrise or sunset point when viewed from a specific place on that Solstice.
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 wear masks or costumes representing one or more of the themes of the Solstice (the sun, reflection, contrasts, abundance, vigor, new beginnings, endurance, etc). A longer event could include materials and opportunities to construct these.
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 (perhaps with an invitation to take away something other than the thing you brought, so it becomes a kind of gift-exchange).
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 .