I just returned from a Solstice celebration held in a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains. This ceremony and its ‘Dreaming’ counterpart held in the middle of winter have become necessary bookmarks in my year, rituals of integration and relationship that bring wholeness and balance to the busi-ness of my life.
One of my favorites moments in this pattern cycle is the night we dance a prayer dance in a medicine wheel built into a meadow, surrounded by redwoods and anchored by a mother tree that must be at least 600 years old. People have been dancing to the Tree of Life for millenia and you can feel a sense of eternity and timelessness that comes like grace as we dance around the delicate Oklahoma Redbud, our ‘tree of life’, hour after hour.
Leg muscles powered by the relentless beat of a large hand made buffalo skin drum (and the energy of the rotating team of drummers that keep this beat alive), the dancers alternately rush to the center and ebb back to the perimeter, again and again. Running forward with outstretched hands, raising our eagle feathers to bless the tree that stands in the center representing Life, we offer our gratitude for the gifts she’s given us all year. Then we dance back in equal rhythm, gratefully receiving life’s bounty and drawing it deep into our own centers, again and again.
When the drums have stopped and we’ve finished dancing, those who want to stay pull a circle of chairs close around the tree … She’s lit from below by a thousand candles encircling her base, long white ribbons that decorate her branches dancing in the night wind. We sit in long silence as the stars and moon move above us and the night whispers its secrets to the trees. I drink this endless moment like water in the desert, stillness pouring into my body like holy communion wine.
My deep gratitude to my companions on this prayer dance journey, and to the hosts and conveners of this beauty: FireHawk and Pele at Resonance and their partners Bill & Marilyn Veltrop at Infinite Games and Craig and Patricia Neal of Heartland Circle.