The heART of Ritual

musings

Wreaths, Cycles, and the Winter Solstice




Wreaths: (From the Middle English wrethe, a twisted garland or ring of leaves and flowers) have been used ceremonially for centuries to create a circle of hope. Since ancient times, they have symbolized eternity, because the ring shape has no beginning or end.


A linear path merely takes us from beginning to end, but the wheel of life symbolized in a wreath reminds us that we are always most vital, engaged, and alive when we accept our current phase, create forward movement, and celebrate the season at hand. Entwined botanicals form an artful intersect between natural and domestic worlds—and turn a front doorway into a portal bridging the two...Taking a walk, gathering natural materials, making a wreath—all become a link to ritual and a meditation on the season.


Creating a wreath that is a labor of love is a reminder that no matter where we are in the seasons and phases of our lives, we will continue to cycle through the good, the bad, the ups and downs, youth and aging, life and death. Taking comfort in the recurrence of winter, spring, summer, and fall. Drawing vitality from each to celebrate the mood and spirit of the season. Each of us, according to season or phase, will find ourselves moving along the wheel of life, marking the present, utilizing the greens and botanicals that are thriving at the time. Holly and ivy, rosemary and bay, spruce and pine to bring the best of the outdoors in when we celebrate solstice and Christmas in the bleak midwinter. Pussy willow and forsythia to herald spring. Lavender and roses to celebrate summer, and fruits, nuts, grains, and fall foliage to bid farewell to another growing season. Wreaths of laurel for times of celebration, baby’s breath for birth, and acacia for times of mourning.


After the holidays, I move my wreaths to trees along the edge of the woods. I pay these fading seasonal markers homage by giving them back to nature and making way for the next turn of the wheel. Seemingly in tribute to this cyclical process, the fruits, seeds, and berries turn wreaths into neighborhood bird feeders, and the wildlife that replants them create new generations of growth as faded heirloom and native botanicals are sown into the surrounding landscape. Once the wreaths are picked over, they almost inevitably become places for nesting. Another visible reminder of the circle of life and our own creative contribution to the larger wheel of life.


Happy gathering & decorating!