Solstice Preparations

Winter Solstice Celebration

By Steve Heinzerling

Last year’s Summer Solstice celebration was such a hit that some of us began talking up a Winter Solstice event.

Being a long advocate for a sauna on the grounds, I suggested constructing a sweat lodge. Denis Sivack has participated in a few traditional Native American sweats and was keen on leading the ceremony. I took on the logistics of building the structure. Living in Brooklyn with green saplings in short supply, I started thinking of how to build the dome with straight lumber.

A Mongolian Yurt became the obvious solution. Come to think of it, green saplings are in rather short supply on the Eurasian Steppe as well. I got to work on the frame, to which several members contributed various quilts and tarps for its insulation and covering. James Williams, Denis Sivack and Hanna Robbie helped with the assembly on the weekend prior to the Solstice. It all came together beautifully.

James arrived at the club early afternoon on the day of the Solstice to start the fire and begin heating the rocks. He also brought along his collection of drums. Vicki Moss brought a large collection of votive candles and paper bags to create an illumination event on the dock. Participation came in at around twenty members. We all decorated our bags with designs and wishes for the new year.

That evening we were blessed with mild and windless conditions. Our candlelit procession to the dock was both memorable and reflective. The sweat lodge worked out just as planned. Denis led us through some traditional rites and we all shared our thoughts and hopes for the year to come. Reverence for our Earth and Water were recurring themes. We emerged from the sweat steaming like teapots, immune to the December chill. A great time was had by all and we look forward to many more Solstice celebrations to come.

Those members not able to attend this year due to it falling on a week night will be glad to know that the 2018 Winter Solstice falls on a Friday and in 2019 a Saturday!

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