Knowing that the exact point of the suns return on the winter solstice this year was Dec. 21, 2018 at 2:22pm MST, we walked to the Bow River escarpment behind our home for a fire ritual. There was a desire to burn and make an offering of the tobacco bundles that Luke Barnesmoore passed on as a gift to Barbara a few days earlier when she was in Vancouver. Luke has been learning about tobacco as the chief medicine (the medicinal portal to the spirit world through which we approach all other medicines) from the UBC Indigenous Health Research and Education Gardens’ Medicine Collective, which includes representatives from the Indigenous communities from across the Americas including the Coast Salish, Cherokee and Anishanbe, and invited us to burn and release the medicine in some way to carry our prayers on to the spirit world.
On the hillside, sheltered near Barbara’s companion spruce tree, the winds were strong from the west and the sky clear and sunny. It was refreshing. Barbara documented our labour of fire-making, which was really more smoke-making, and we created a short video as a way to return the gift of our connection with the elements and the Indigenous Treaty 7 land we now live upon.
Later that evening we continued the solstice ritual with 3 friends in our home. This second fire ritual with the leaf-ash-filled vessel, released affirmations of endings, beginnings and goals in our lives. With the accompanying full moon and meteor showers in the sky outside and supportive friends inside, this solstice has deepened the gratitude practice that has been emerging in our lives. A practice where we remember that the elements of the earth and skies are ever present in our life journey when we choose to pause, reflect and communicare while dwelling in our interconnectedness.