Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bridge of Light honors GLBT spirit at New Years

Welcome the new year with Bridge of Light, a new holiday honoring GLBT culture.

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.

I’m doing Bridge of Light for the first time this year, and I encourage others to join me.

For a new version of this article, click this link to
Welcome the New Year with rainbow candles! Bridge of Light honors LGBTQ culture

Each candle stands for a universal principle and its expression in the lives and history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people:

1. Red - The Root of Spirit (Community)
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)

The candles are intended to provide a starting point for individual and group meditations on the meaning of spirituality in our lives.

I worked with Joe Perez, the founder of Bridge of Light, to revise the principles this month. You can read our discussions at the Gay Spirituality Blog. We’re open to future revisions, so let us know what you think!

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.

“Bridge of Light is an interfaith and omni-denominational cultural and spiritual tradition,” he says. “The annual winter ritual (now in its fifth year) 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.”

He 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.”

I have spent years doing healing meditations based on 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.

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. I’ve played it countless times, and I’m celebrating Bridge of Light by listening to one meditation each night this week.

I ran out of time and cash before I could buy myself a rainbow candle holder for Bridge of Light this year. I added it to my Wish List at -- in case anybody out there would like to buy one for me. I hope to take photos of my new candle holder for Bridge of Light posts on this blog in the future.

Happy Bridge of Light, everybody!


Yewtree said...

What a lovely idea - I will open my chakras and light a candle in honour of Bridge of Light.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thanks, Yewtree. I was beginning to wonder if anybody here shared my joy in this new holiday… although I did connect with some kindred souls at other blogs who were celebrating Bridge of Light. I perceive that it’s hard to start a new holiday… and yet I feel this one is well worth the effort.

My first Bridge of Light was a sweet, powerful experience -- even though I didn't manage to get the “right” kind of rainbow candleholder. It's amazing to feel like the rainbow flag is shining through me. Like I AM the rainbow flag!

Next year I'll try to announce Bridge of Light sooner so we can prepare ourselves.

eric said...

To be honest, Kitt, when I first read this post when you published it last week, I thought to myself that it was interesting, but felt no real connection to it, so I didn't have anything to comment.

But, now I've read Yewtree's and your comments, and have thought more about it.

There is in me a strong streak of what I guess you could call "traditionalism". In this case it comes out sounding something like "We have enough holidays, why do we need more?"

But then, for the first time today, I followed your link to the news release. I admit my interest is piqued.

So, here's my current thoughts: I can see the value of an explicitly LGBT holiday. The 7 candle idea is a good one, but needs more development. I read the 7 steps outlined in the release, but they leave me wanting more information.

Perhaps developing the thoughts that go with each candle would be a place to start. Perhaps one idea would be to "sell" those like myself on why Christmas might not be enough?

Does this make sense?

I'm certainly going to consider celebrating this next year.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thanks, Eric. Continuing in the same spirit of honesty, I must admit that I wasn’t impressed either when I first heard about Bridge of Light last year (or maybe 2 years ago). It took time for me to realize its value.

My “conversion” began after I decided to start doing more holiday and saint-day posts here. This made me more aware of when the GLBT-oriented holidays are. I realized that there was a “queer angle” to most Christian holidays, but not to New Years. Joe Perez founded Bridge of Light because he felt the need for a “gay winter holiday,” and I do see that it fills a gap.

You ask, why isn’t Christmas enough? Bridge of Light seems very similar to Kwanzaa in that it builds on Christmas by celebrating a culture (black or LGBT).

But Bridge of Light is really about New Year’s, not Christmas. What do GLBT people have to do on New Year’s Eve now? It seems like going to the bars or drunken parties is almost the only LGBT way to celebrate the New Year. Our community definitely needs a healthier way to welcome the new year.

I want to develop the 7 principles more as you suggest. We have a whole year to think about it!

JMP said...

Hello! Glad to hear others are considering adding the ritual to their New Year's Eve plans. Next year, I want to do quite a bit more public relations for the activity, contacting and discussing and inviting reflects on the principles and how the holiday can be developed. Your ideas are welcome, and there's even a Facebook group where you can contribute.



Kittredge Cherry said...

Thanks, Joe, it’s an honor to have the **founder** of Bridge of Light joining our discussion here. Next year I also want to do more to prepare others (and myself!) in advance, and perhaps have daily posts on the principles. I look forward to keeping in touch through our blogs and the Facebook group, etc.

Yewtree said...

I would like to celebrate Bridge of Light this year. I have written a prayer and a benediction which could be used for it.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Wonderful! I rejoice in your prayer and will definitely include a link to it (or quote it here??) when I blog about Bridge of Light this year. I had grand plans for Bridge of Light blogging this year, but time is running out, so I may do something simple. But Bridge of Light is definitely part of my New Years celebration now.