Embracing light with winter solstice | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Embracing light with winter solstice

Jeff Munson, Tribune city editor

On Sunday the planet experienced its shortest day of the year, known as winter solstice.

But it was on Friday at Mountain Spirit Bookstore in South Lake Tahoe where Tahoe City spiritualist Debi LeFaye held a workshop to explain the Celtic, Native American, Mayan and Catholic traditions behind the annual planetary event.

“The celebration of winter solstice has always been steeped in tradition, but it has come within our culture where it has been taken for granted,” said LeFaye, founder of the Academy of Ancient Arts on the West Shore.

A winter solstice celebration in other cultures, particularly the Celtic culture, has included a ceremonial evergreen tree that is decorated, a candlelight ceremony, stockings filled with gifts, a burning of a Yule log, a holiday drink of teas or ciders, a meal and the sharing of gifts.

“The longest night of the year is a celebration of the return of the light,” LeFaye said. “From Sunday forward, every day grows brighter until the return of summer and its solstice.”

Spiritually speaking, the winter solstice is about observing light, she said. It is this welcoming of the light by way of the planet and the sun that sets a person’s energy off on the right foot. If one is able to recognize the light energy, tradition has it that their lives will be filled with light the entire year.

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A typical Celtic ceremony would be to open the celebration with a circle of people holding candles,and looking to the north and south, calling on the heavens to bring in light energy. Next, would be the burning of a Yule log, because tradition has it that smoke and flames carry messages of hope. Following the burning, there would be a closing circle, during which those gathered in it would thank the heavens, then blow out their candles. Participants would end the ceremony by saying three times: “The circle that’s been open shall never be broken.”

Audrey Krassow, who attended Friday’s workshop said she planned to take what she learned and exercise the ritual in her home.

“I’ve done little things in the past, in a limited way, but never knew how to do it the right way,” said Krassow, a South Shore medical billing clerk. “Now I hope to make it a tradition.”