Happy New Year! Welcome the new year with Bridge of Light, a new winter holiday honoring LGBT culture.
Rainbow Arch candle holder
Each candle stands for a spiritual principle and its expression in the lives and history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer 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 (Yvonne Aburrow) of the Dance of the Elements Blog:
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 like the idea of doing a daily candle for each color, but every year Dec. 26-31 is such a busy week for me! I wonder if Bridge of Light could also be celebrated at the summer solstice in connection with LGBTQ Pride?
This year I compiled a new, more detailed summary of the seven principles of Bridge of Light. It includes historical time periods, foods and more about the chakras, the energy centers of the human body. I synthesized and developed this info based on the resource links at the end of this post. For Jesus in Love readers I highlighted Christian history with links to LGBT Saints and theologian Patrick S. Cheng’s models of Christ that arise from the experiences of LGBT people.
Time period: Before Christ / Before the Common Era
Celebrate same-sex love in goddess worship, paganism and other pre-patriarchal spiritualities, in ancient myths and cultures, and in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament.
Mary, Diana and Artemis: Feast of Assumption has lesbian goddess roots
David and Jonathan
Ruth and Naomi
Foods: Root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, etc.), protein-rich foods, sweet and spicy tastes.
Time period: 1st - 4th centuries
Celebrate same-sex love in the life of Christ, among early Christians, in the late Roman Empire and other cultures.
Historical Jesus and the Beloved Disciple
Erotic Christ (sin as exploitation; grace as mutuality)
Mary and Martha
Sergius and Bacchus
Perpetua and Felicity
Foods: Foods growing from ground-level to 2 feet (melons, strawberries, squash, etc.), sweet and salty tastes.
Time period: Middle Ages, 4th - 15th centuries
Celebrate same-sex love in medieval times. Queer medieval Christians include pairs of lovers in monasteries and convents, writers of homoerotic verse, and cross-dressing women. Medieval mystics describe erotic-ecstatic union with God.
Out Christ (sin as the closet; grace as coming out)
Brigid and Darlughdach (c.451-525)
Symeon of Emessa and John (c. 522-c. 588)
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Aelred of Rievaulx (c.1110-1167)
Rumi (1207 - 1273)
Julian of Norwich (1342-c. 1417)
Foods: Foods growing 2-6 feet above the ground (grains, sunflower seeds etc.), bitter and minty tastes.
Time period: Renaissance, 15th-17th centuries (c. 1400-1699)
Celebrate same-sex love in the era that included the Age of Discovery, the Protestant Reformation and the invention of the printing press.
Compassionate Christ, healer and lover of outcasts.
Joan of Arc (c.1412-1431)
John of the Cross (1542-1591)
Juana de la Cruz (1648-1695)
Gay Popes, Papal Sodomites (Queering the Church Blog)
Foods: Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, green tea, etc.), sour and savory tastes.
Time period: Modern, 1700 to 1950
Celebrate same-sex love in modern times, including gender role evolution in Romanticism, Transcendentalism, secular philosophy, and the movements for women’s suffrage and abolition.
Liberator Christ (sin as apathy; grace as activism)
Bernardo de Hoyos (1711-1735): Mystical same-sex marriage with Jesus
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and Ambrose St. John
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
We’wha of Zuni (1849-1896)
Foods: Food that grows 6 feet or more above ground (apples, oranges, avocadoes, etc.), sour and salty tastes.
Time period: 1950 to present
Celebrate same-sex love and gender role defiance in recent LGBT, queer, feminist and black liberation movements, including the struggle for LGBT religious rights. LGBT-affirming churches and religious institutions are founded. Pluralistic expressions of sexuality and gender multiply, but some are martyred in anti-gay hate crimes.
Transgressive Christ (sin as conformity; grace as deviance)
Saints of Stonewall
Mychal Judge: Gay saint of 9/11
Foods: Dark purple foods (blueberries, purple grapes, red wine, etc.), subtle tastes (poppyseed, lavender, etc.).
Time period: Now and the future
Celebrate same-sex love now and in the future! Be a witness of love in all its expressions. Sainthood is a state to which all are called.
Hybrid Christ (sin as singularity; grace as hybridity)
Foods: Fasting. Instead of eating, inhale incense and smudging herbs such as sage. Or… Celebrate with a slice of rainbow cake!
Links to other resources for Bridge of Light:
Each principle has a “Correspondence in LGBT history” according to the “Revisions to Bridge of Light” by Joe Perez
Rainbow Christ Prayer: LGBT flag reveals the queer Christ (Kittredge Cherry and Patrick Cheng)
Same Sex Lovers in church history (Queering the Church)
The Story of the "Queer Saints and Martyrs" by Terence Weldon
Foods that Fuel Your 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.”
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 2012 bring everyone peace, health and prosperity!
Top: “Rainbow Stripes Background” by Philippa Willitts
Chakra images by Anodea Judith of SacredCenters.com
This post is part of the LGBT Holidays series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series celebrates religious and spiritual holidays, holy days, feast days, festivals, anniversaries, liturgical seasons and other occasions of special interest to LGBT and queer people of faith and our allies.