On Dec. 22 we celebrate the winter solstice. And as we all know, this marks the Christmas holiday season which in many places around the world has become more of a commercial holiday than a spiritual one.
During this time of great change on the planet, people yearn for a deeper way to work spiritually and to celebrate holidays. People yearn for deeper and more authentic ways to connect with each other. During the holiday season many people feel empty and some people get depressed.
I would like to suggest a way that you can work in your community to create a deeper experience and a beautiful way to connect with others during this solstice and holiday season.
Many people during this time of year buy Christmas trees. During our solstice celebration this year, I would suggest a new way to bring in this holiday season.
In my book "How to Thrive in Changing Times," I wrote about the tradition of creating a prayer tree that comes out of Siberia.
In indigenous cultures it is believed that everything that is alive has a spirit and we live in partnership with the spirit that lives in all things. For it is believed that all of life is connected to a web of life. And together with all of life we live in a place of cooperation and partnership. It is important to honor and respect all of life that is connected to this amazing web.
In Siberia, trees are seen as seen as sacred as they bridge the heaven and the earth. There is a wonderful shamanic tradition in Siberia of creating a prayer tree.
Traditional food and drink offerings are left by the tree. The shaman in the community chants and gives thanks to the helping spirits for carrying the prayers of the people up to the universe so that the dreams manifest back on earth.
People tie ribbons loosely on the branches of the tree. As the tree will continue to grow it is important not to choke the branch with a ribbon that is tied on too tight.
The ribbons tied on the tree are empowered by individuals in the community with personal prayers as well as prayers for loved ones, families and for the community itself.
One year while I was teaching in Scotland, I visited a forest in the Trossachs called "The Fairy Forest." People from all over the world had come to the forest to leave letters, drawings, pictures, gifts and prayers for personal and planetary healing. These were left on the ground by a tree or tied on to the branches of the trees in this forest. It was an extraordinary sight to see a whole glen of trees filled with colored ribbons, photos, gifts and a variety of beautiful objects filled with love and hope.
In celebrating the solstice this year you might want to consider creating a prayer tree in your community. Start by giving thanks to the tree in a way that calls to your heart. Intention is the key. Bless this tree with the love in your heart as this living being works in partnership to carry prayers to the creative forces of the universe.
Loosely wrap different colored ribbons that contain prayers for yourself, your loved ones, your community and the planet. Invite others in your community to do the same. This way of working brings people in your community together and this in itself creates healing for all of life.
If you cannot use a tree in nature to create a prayer tree you can buy a Christmas tree and instead of placing ornaments on it invite your community to place ribbons, letters, drawings, etc. that include prayers.
You can also suggest that people make their own prayers objects through some kind of craft such as knitting, crocheting, carving, etc. If appropriate you can even create a prayer tree in your work place. This is a great way to bring co-workers together to support the prayers of each other.
Use your imagination. Remember the key is the intention and the love that put you into creating this ceremony.
The time of solstice is a powerful time for reflection. This is also a wonderful time to remember what you are grateful for and bless others and all of life itself.
When we can experience our gratefulness for life we transform our perspective about what is happening in our own lives and on the planet. For when we feel grateful we can experience the beauty instead of the pain. We want to acknowledge those who are suffering and feel compassion. At the same time it is important to experience the beauty and the gifts that life brings for us. This is an ancient teaching that has been passed down through many cultures and many generations.
Let us together hold a positive vision for the planet. Let us embrace ourselves, our loved ones, and all of life with love.
Sandra Ingerman, M.A., is the author of eight books, including "Soul Retrieval," "Medicine for the Earth," "Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner's Guide," "How to Heal Toxic Thoughts," "How to Thrive in Changing Times" and "Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation." Sandra teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. Sandra is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a professional mental health counselor and a board-certified expert on traumatic stress. To order Sandra's books and to read her blog, visit her on Red Room or at sandraingerman.com.