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  • Kitty Edwards

A Fire Ceremony for Winter Solstice

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

~ Albert Camus

The winter solstice is a time to release the old and invite in the new. During the longest night it is traditional to celebrate the darkness and invite back the sun into our lives. It is a time of life, death and rebirth.

In the northern hemisphere the winter solstice occurs in December, while those in the southern hemisphere experience it in June. In ancient times, winter festivals were held on or around the winter solstice.

In Boulder, Colorado our celebration centers around a sacred fire ceremony in which we set the intention to release that which no longer serves us, while honoring all that we are grateful for on this longest night.

We incorporate the four elements of ceremony– invocation, transformation, closure and celebration. Below I describe our winter solstice fire ceremony. I encourage you to create your own ceremony that reflects the needs of your community, family and friends.

We celebrate the winter solstice on December 21 this year. Before the ceremony each participant writes on a slip of paper those things that they wish to release into the fire. These might be habits, relationships or tasks. Each participant is also given a sprig of fresh holly and a bell to use during the ceremony.


After everyone has gathered in a circle around the fir pit, the host says:

I call on the high mountains of this region to share their wisdom.

I call on the great rivers to share their currents to show us the flow

of our sweetest journey.

I call on plants and trees to breathe with us so that we may feel the

connection with all of life.

I call on the animals that share their flesh and their beauty that nurtures us.

I call on the earth herself to hold us and give us strength.

I call on the stars above to shine down on us tonight,

lighting our way.

Please join us in this winter solstice ceremony.

The fire keeper lights the fire using olive oil as an accelerant. The host greets each cardinal direction, Mother Earth and the heavens. Each person in the circle around the fire is also acknowledged by the host.


While the fire gathers its strength, the participants sing the chant “Fire Transforms Me” by ALisa Starkweather.

Fire transform me,

Lead me to my passion.

Fire transform me,

Lead me to my passion.

I choose life. Yes!

I choose courage,

I choose life. Yes!

I choose courage,

To dance among the flames,

To dance among the flames.

When the fire is ready, each participant is invited to place their slip of paper into the fire.

Returning to the circle, participants begin to blow the breath of gratitude into the holly sprig. What are you grateful for at this time in your life? A yule log, decorated with ribbons and burnable objects, is passed around the circle. Each participant attaches her holly sprig to the log. The fire keeper is the last to attach her sprig of holly. She then places the yule log in the fire.

While the yule log burns we sing “Deck the Halls,” a traditional Welsh carol with English lyrics written by Thomas Oliphant in 1862.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

'Tis the season to be jolly,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

See the blazing yule before us,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Strike the harp and join the chorus.

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

While I tell of Yuletide treasure,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes.

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Sing we joyous all together,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Heedless of the wind and weather,

Fa la la la la la la la la.

As we stand in silence the host invites the spirits of the land to visit the fire and join the circle. The silence continues as the yule log burns.


Host recites lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.”

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That is how the light gets in.”

Participants ring their bells. The host calls on the sun to return.

Father Sun, crest the highest mountains with your light. Ho.

Father Sun, warm the deepest waters of our rivers. Ho.

Father Sun, call forth the blossoms from the seedlings. Ho.

Father Sun, encourage new life from our wombs. Ho.

Father Sun, kiss Mother Earth with your breath. Ho.

Father Sun, we honor you with the fire in our hearts. Ho.

Participants ring their bells. The fire is attended to by the fire keeper while other participants find places to sit around the fire.


Sitting around the fire the celebration begins with warm drinks, warm cakes and warm


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