Advent Wreath, Pagans Preparing for Yule

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Advent Wreath and it’s significance regarding Christianity. But what about it’s origin?

In my home, we celebrate the Advent. I thought that I would spend a few minutes writing about why we celebrate the Advent and what it has to do with Benedicaria and other European traditions.

Now, to review, Benedicaria (the blessing way) has its roots in La Vecchia Religione, but is a creolized religion based on the ethnic and cultural roots of the practitioner. This means, that besides it’s foundation, the religion changes from home to home. Mine is La Vecchia Religione add Druid, Hawaiian, and Yoruba.

My celebration of the Advent comes from my mother’s side, a Druidic heritage; however, there are some additions that come from the Sicilian Catholics that are kind of lovely. Watch how creolizing works:

The Advent wreath is an evergreen wreath meant to sit on the table in the main dining area of the house. This is where the family will come to share meals and be with each other for the up and coming weeks of darkness. The four candles will be lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays prior to the Winter Solstice. The candle added will be relit every night the following week until we add another candle, commencing in having all four lit from the Sunday prior to the Solstice and then through Yule itself. In different traditions, the colors have meanings. We will discover that as we go.

My wreath is not made of evergreens; at least not live ones. It is a fake wreath but I have had it for years and love it dearly. I made it myself and its greenery reminds me of the evergreen promise (even if it is made of up plastic). It also has white holly and mistletoe with crystals and bangles added to the wreath. I will talk through the importance of holly and mistletoe as we move closer to Yule/Winter Solstice.

My Advent wreath uses votive size candles, as they last long, aren’t too giant, and can be changed every year.

I take out my advent wreath from storage and place it on the table with no candles right after Oct 31st. It is officially time to switch seasons. Then in November, four Sundays prior to the Winter Solstice, we light the first candle. Why?

The Weeks Prior to the Winter Solstice

As we climb into the darkness, we start to light our way. The family will get closer together as the sun dies and will soon be reborn. As the days get shorter, and colder, we will light the evergreen wreath. We will come together to eat, to fill our bodies with nourishing foods, so we can build the relationships that will keep us strong in the coming cold months, with food that will give us health as well.

The first candle represents the acknowledgment of death. A month prior, we recognized that life is sacred, and in life, the remembrance of those we loved. Telling stories of our loved ones keeps them alive, and the lare (ancestors) will watch over us in the coming year. Now, we recognize the death of our environment. As trees and plants wither away, they will fertilize the coming year. It is time to let go. Release those things (including grudges) so they may fall to the Earth and be used to nourish new growth, within ourselves, our family, and our livelihood

Every night that week, we will light the same candle.

The third Sunday from the Winter Solstice, we will add a second candle. This candle represents faith. Faith in your family, in that the Sun will rise and give us warmth, and in the strength of the circular evergreen. The evergreen represents the faith that there are parts of nature that are predictable, and everlasting. Our love for one another, and that we will be there for each other, and is the faith of the second candle. You will now light two candles for the remainder of the week.

The second Sunday from the Winter Solstice is about light from the blinding darkness. This candle is represented in Santa Lucia (St. Lucy). She will give sight to those who are blind, metaphorically. Let us see what we need to see and what we should see as we climb out of the darkness. May we be brave enough to turn from the comfort of the shadows in Plato’s cave, and see the world for what it is. Even more difficult? She ourselves for who we are, and what we offer (or don’t offer) our family. As we light this candle, we see how we fit into the family unit. What do we offer? And if we don’t offer much of anything, we are to be brave enough to resolute a change within ourselves before the Solstice comes, and make that pledge on the Solstice. This is also the night of Devine Intervention. May those who are sensitive receive psychic vision in guidance for their families. You will now light three candles for the coming week.

The Sunday prior to the Winter Solstice (and if the Solstice lands on a Sunday, you will light it the week PRIOR). This is the candle of peace and promise. A dedication to be there for your family until we get to Lupercalia (Feb 15th). Helping your loved ones thrive and be strong helps you. We thrive as a social pack and are protected as one loving unit. From our love and dedication, the Sun will rise. It is from the heat of our commitment, that the Sun will come back to join in warming our home.

Beautiful isn’t it?

Now, candle colors —- Here is the real T. The colors don’t matter. Remember that the Benedicarians believe in spiritual technology and access and adding what works to the faith. Candles are Egyptian, the Evergreens from Germany, the celebration of this time of year from the Gauls, Heathens, and Celts, and the colors of the candles from Christianity.

Many will say you need three purple for the liturgical colors, and the final pink. Others will say the final is white to burn purest so to lure the Sun. And others will say the first is red and the rest are blue. My word! Well, I like to hold true to pre-Christian tradition in that, we will use whatever candles we can find and that will last. It is the flame that must burn over the wreath; it is the flame that ignites these gifts of thought, contemplation, and prayer. It is the flame that burns like the Sun, lighting our way while he goes to sleep.

And on Yule, the Winter Solstice, we celebrate how Helios rises again with the Sun, and brings a new year, with an incredible foundation built in the darkness by candle light. We celebrate family and we celebrate new life.

I hope that you, too, will run out today and get an Advent Wreath, or make one yourself. Just a wreath and space for four candles. Blow them out each night, using your breath to seal your wish for that week.

After the Solstice, the wreath is finished. I married a Southern Baptist, we we keep it going through December 26th. More of a reminder of our family (which I love).

Enjoy the season of the Advent (it starts today!!!!) And stay tuned for a Winter Solstice article.

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