Witchcliffe’s first lantern walk celebrating winter solstice

By Ecovillage resident, Anu Grace

On Friday 23rd June, in celebration of the Winter solstice, a parade of lanterns we had made, weaving through our villages, singing and drumming, stopping at cluster sheds to pick revellers up – Harry leading the way with his bird calls.

About 50 of the wraggle taggle of us paused at Bussell Hwy for the next leg down Mammoth Street, while others went back to the already blazing cauldron manned by Todd, our keeper of the Fire. We meandered down the laneway to pause for a moment at the big muddy pothole on Mammoth, a sacred pothole indeed for Tim and Anne-Marie’s kids to play in many years ago. We walked to the end of Mammoth to be met by a welcome from Witch & Windmill shop owners, Miranda and Michelle. We paraded through Miranda’s book shop and back into the bar area, singing, waving our lanterns, and then gathering back out on Redgate Road.

From there we crossed down Shervington Avenue, circling back to the Ecovillage Community Centre and the warmth of the fire to be met by drum beats. Anne-Marie called us to attention to then honour a moment’s silence – as the season turned, we turned our bodies too. After singing into the fire, it was time to eat the gorgeous food people had prepared to share.

Did I mention the weather was perfect? At that point, there was no wind or rain to disturb the view of a large sickle moon hanging right above a brightly pulsing Venus – the heavy deluge of the past week having cleared for our journey. Harry then called the children into the foyer of our community centre, where candles burned and instruments lay around the red velvet story chair. Anu told and sang a story about the fire in our own hearts, a fire kindled by giving to others at Midwinter.

Many thanks to Witchcliffe Community Association who supported this initiative, paying for the lantern making materials and helping to make it happen. Thanks to Michelle, Karen and Mike who made room for us in the community centre. Witchcliffe Community Association, which meets regularly at Druids Hall, wants to co-create this as an annual Witchcliffe tradition, building bigger lanterns next June and developing the theme with all who are interested. Ecovillage residents, Anu and Laurie, hope to acquire some lantern making skills when they travel east to Woodford for New Year.