Photographs by J R Compton + Comments by Amy "Moonlady" Martin
Mother Winter Valery Guignon welcomes her flock.
Heads wait to display silent auction jewelry and hats.
Lucina Lankford prepares name tags for volunteers.
Kitchen witches from the Circle of the Serpent
create food that celebrates the abundant Earth.
Head witch Gaelen readies platters of vegetables.
Cathedral of Hope altar drape evokes the
darkness and light of our holiday season.
The Sun Gate waits for its climatic moment.
Friendly people queue up for admission.
Julia Schloss' screen of recycled materials highlights the silent auction.
People arrive by the hundreds in swirls of color, plaids, prints,
wild bright patterns,
and families respendant —
Boogeyman Tory Young's rags are ready to carry away our fears and dread.
Winter SolstiCelebration 2007 begins with an elemental invocation
(left to right: Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Amy "Moonlady" Martin)
with Earth and Water dancers from Sultan’s Dreams.
As the Women's Chorus of Dallas sang,
Julia Schloss and Tzivia Stein-Barrett added elemental ingredients
to create an altar honoring Earth and its spiritual traditions.
In a ceremony called “The Animating Breathing,” Ben Gruver
embodies and amplifies the sacred breath with his didgeridoo.
The Circle of the Wild Wood chants the first line of the Lord’s Prayer in its
original Aramaic, which translates as “Oh energy that breathes through me.”
The audience takes moments to stretch
and meditate through spiritual exercises about time and body
helping us feel connected.
SolstiCelebrators join in chant
led by Buddhist brother ChiSIng,
who encourages us to focus our hearts and sing without fear
while those who can not hear, sign along.
After bringing a deep spiritual space, ChiSing bows.
Willie Breedlove shares the service with the hearing impaired.
Cynthia Stuart drums gently as audience members stand
and say aloud the names of loved ones they have lost.
Passing the darkest moments of Solstice,
a few small flashlights dare the dark.
Then more and larger lights illuminate
until the ceiling dances with light.
Sheaves of grain on the Earth altar refract through a crystal ball;
an Earth goddess appeals to spirit;
angel and candle protect;
a Shinto god guides;
and an elephant bears the wisdom of mankind.
Tom Prasada-Rao celebrates our return to the light.
Event producer Amy Martin dances and smiles.
and everybody hugs in our community meet-n-greet.
Storyteller Peggy Helmick-Richardson embodies a wicked character
and Gene Helmick-Richardson appeals for peace.
and participating, members of the audience enthusiastically join the annual howl.
Geofffrey Ricketts weaves his harp through his “One Voice,"
showcasing Matt Woodbury’s lush baritone.
Vibrant Singer Annie Benjamin exhorts the crowd to never forget “Life’s Blessings,”
Julia Schloss moves to the "gratitude Dance,"
and the audience enthusiastically joins in.
Jamal Mohamed on drums and Freddie Jones on trumpet
enthrall the crowd with a playful set.
And the service concludes with dancing through
the Sun and Moon gates into a new year.
Then onto the Yule Fest with food
and more fun costumes and colors.
While the drummers drum,
adults socialize in the Fellowship Hall,
kids play in the gates of the Sun
and the Moon.
A smiling mom carries her young child
and another plays joyously.
While their volunteer moms wrap up in the
kitchen, two girls quietly color in the pews,
and the Winter SolstiCelebration 2007 winds
to a close with more colorful costumes
and Stephanie Hancock as the frosty Element of Air.
All images copyright 2007 by J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any
medium without specific written permission.