What the Solstice Spiral Tells Us About Darkness


Here we are, the holidays upon us, celebrating and honoring the various ways this time of year has meaning to us. And while it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” we’re also in winter and approaching the solstice, which is marked by the least amount of daylight. In the midst of all the festivities, we are also holding the awareness that we are in the darkest days of the year. Even as we go about our busier than usual schedules, our bodies know, are still primally linked to this natural cycle of the year.


The solstice is the time when we take pause and note the dark, more pronounced and punctuated by its accompanying bare trees and colder temperatures. The solstice spiral is an experience that ritualizes and integrates our knowing of the facts about the season and the mystery of the meaning of returning light in days of darkness. Walking the path of the spiral, whether in body or spirit, with candles yet unlit allows us to move closer to our understanding of darkness, to carry it with us as we move, to see the beauty in it as we walk with others.

Reaching the center, there is palpable emotion, a sense of wonder as we bring the light from the central candle to our own. The energy changes. How we see the same space with the lit candle changes. Placing our candle among the pine boughs with the other candles gives us a renewed sense of being and belonging. In this seemingly simple act, we shift. What we feel and sense going into the spiral changes as we walk out of the spiral.

There is no way of knowing what the transformation will be until we experience the spiral. And yet, we show up here together to participate in the mystery, to interact with it in some way. It is a statement of courage and curiosity. A willingness to explore and wonder is at the heart of the solstice spiral. What can we become as the light shines upon us once again?

The Solstice Spiral is an all ages event. Children of all ages are welcome to participate. We ask that parents attend to their young children in the spiral to assist as needed with fire safety while allowing the child to experience the spiral for themselves as much as they are able.


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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Tuesday & Wednesday 9a-3p

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