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Happy New Year! Welcome the new year with Bridge of Light, a new winter holiday honoring LGBT culture.
|Rainbow Arch candle holder|
People celebrate Bridge of Light by lighting six candles, one for each color of the rainbow flag, on New Year’s Eve -- or from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, one candle per day.
Each candle stands for a spiritual principle and its expression in the lives and history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The candles are intended to provide a starting point for individual and group meditations on these principles:
2. Orange - The Fire of Spirit (Eros)
3. Yellow - The Core of Spirit (Self-Esteem)
4. Green - The Heart of Spirit (Love)
5. Blue - The Voice of Spirit (Self-Expression and Justice)
6. Purple - The Eye of Spirit (Wisdom)
7. All Candles - The Crown of Spirit (Spirituality)
Together these colors form a rainbow, a time-honored symbol of a bridge between two worlds: heaven and earth, East and West, male and female, queer and non-queer.
The principles are beautifully expressed in a new benediction prayer written for Bridge of Light by Yewtree of the Dance of the Elements Blog. Yewtree (Yvonne Aburrow) is a Unitarian and a Wiccan who has written four books on mythology and folklore. She completed an MA in contemporary religions and spiritualities at Bath Spa University in the United Kingdom. She offers this prayer:
Let us embody the values of the rainbow flag of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.Joe Perez, author of “Soulfully Gay,” founded Bridge of Light in 2004. It has obvious parallels to Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday started by Ron Karenga in 1966.
Red is the root of spirit, found in beloved community,
Orange is for Eros, the fire of spirit, the experience of erotic connection,
Yellow is for self-esteem, the strong core of spirit,
Green is for love, the heart of spirit, the verdant growth of the soul,
Blue is for self-expression, the voice of spirit, calling out for justice,
Purple is the eye of spirit, which sees inwardly with the eye of wisdom.
And all the colours together form the crown of spirit, the experience of spirituality.
“Bridge of Light is an interfaith and omni-denominational cultural and spiritual tradition,” Perez says. “The annual winter ritual...has helped to draw attention to the positive contributions made by members of the LGBT community in the areas of spiritual growth, inner transformation, and religious leadership.” His most recent post on the subject is “Why I (still) celebrate the Bridge of Light.”
I worked with Perez last year to revise the principles last year based on my own meditations on colors and their connections to the chakras, the energy centers of the human body. The seven chakras are associated with the colors of the spectrum, much like the rainbow flag. For me as a lesbian, it’s been a powerful experience to integrate my personal healing meditations with the rainbow flag of the GLBT community.
Perez posted a lovely tribute to me on his Integrally Gay blog: “With special thanks to Kittredge Cherry, for sharing with me her meditations on the chakras and their connections to the colors of the rainbow flag. Her ideas are largely incorporated in these fully revised guidelines for 2009 Bridge of Light rituals.”
Bridge of Light continues to evolve. This year Yvonne suggested adding sacred foods, such as “rainbow-tinted marble cake maybe, or one food of each colour?”
I did some research and found an excellent list of “Foods that Fuel Your Chakras.” It can be readily adapted for Bridge of Light. Here is my summary based that list plus other sources. Let’s use it to find delicious ways to celebrate Bridge of Light:
1. Red/Root: Root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, etc.), protein-rich foods, sweet and spicy tastes.
2. Orange/Fire: Foods growing from ground-level to 2 feet (melons, strawberries, squash, etc.), sweet and salty tastes.
3. Yellow/Core: Foods growing 2-6 feet above the ground (grains, sunflower seeds etc.), bitter and minty tastes.
4. Green/Heart: Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, green tea, etc.), sour and savory tastes.
5. Blue/Voice: Food that grows 6 feet or more above ground (apples, oranges, avocadoes, etc.), sour and salty tastes.
6. Purple/Eye: Dark purple foods (blueberries, purple grapes, red wine, etc.), subtle tastes (poppyseed, lavender, etc.).
7. All colors/Crown: Fasting. Instead of eating, inhale incense and smudging herbs such as sage.
For those interested in learning more about the chakras, author Carolyn Myss connects the seven chakras with the seven sacraments of the church in her book “Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing.” It’s a great book for anybody who seeks healing, regardless of religious faith.
I also recommend a CD set of meditations based on the chakras, “Activating Your Chakras Through the Light Rays.” It’s definitely “new age,” but it’s the best of its kind.
Happy Bridge of Light, everybody! Be renewed and refreshed as the New Year begins! May 2011 bring everyone peace, health and prosperity!
PS. Each principle has a “Correspondence in LGBT History” according to the “Revisions to Bridge of Light” by Joe Perez. Here’s my quick summary of the historical connections. The full history is online at:
1. Red/Root: Same-sex love and eroticism in paganism and other pre-patriarchical spiritualities (starting 10,000 BCE)
2. Orange/Fire: Same-sex love and eroticism in the stories and myths of the ancient world, including Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Jonathan and David, Naomi and Ruth. (starting 5000 BCE)
3. Yellow/Core: Same-sex love and eroticism in world religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Confucianism (starting 500 BCE)
4. Green/Heart: Same-sex love and eroticism and gender role defiance in modern times, including secular philosophy, women’s suffrage and abolition (starting 1500 CE)
5. Blue/Voice: Same-sex love and eroticism and gender role evolution in Romanticism, Transcendentialism and other late modern movements (starting 1800)
6. Purple/Eye: Pluralistic expressions of sexuality and gender with feminist, queer and LGBT liberation movements (starting 1950)
7. All colors/Crown: Same-sex love and eroticism now and in the future.