Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome the New Year with Bridge of Light!

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.

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 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:

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)

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.
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.

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.

“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.”

Bridge of Light continues to evolve. Aburrow suggested adding sacred foods, such as “rainbow-tinted marble cake maybe, or one food of each colour?”

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.

1. Red - The Root of Spirit (Community)

Red evokes life, energy and blood. Shadow side: violence/death.

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.

2. Orange - The Fire of Spirit (Eros)

Orange evokes fire, passion and relationships. Shadow side: lust/addiction.

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.

3. Yellow - The Core of Spirit (Self-Esteem)

Yellow evokes confidence and personal power. Shadow side: fear/anger.

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.

4. Green - The Heart of Spirit (Love)

Green evokes growth, nature, balance and compassion. Shadow side: jealousy/greed, hatred.

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.

5. Blue - The Voice of Spirit (Self-Expression and Justice)

Blue evokes peace, communication and independence. Shadow side: depression/arrogance.

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.

6. Purple - The Eye of Spirit (Wisdom)

Purple evokes vision, intuition and understanding. Shadow side: passivity/nightmares.

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
Harvey Milk
Bayard Rustin
Mychal Judge: Gay saint of 9/11
Matthew Shepherd
Mary Daly
Audre Lorde

Foods: Dark purple foods (blueberries, purple grapes, red wine, etc.), subtle tastes (poppyseed, lavender, etc.).

7. All Colors / White - The Crown of Spirit (Spirituality)

When all the colors of the rainbow mix, they create white light, evoking universal consciousness.
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!

Image credits:
Top: “Rainbow Stripes Background” by Philippa Willitts

Chakra images by Anodea Judith of

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.


Trudie said...

What a wonderfully rich and diverse post! Interesting that the rainbow candle "bridge of light" has been a staple of our decoration during Excel of the Rainbow Zebra weekends since I found this item at a booth at a Gay Pride festival here in Atlanta in the 1990's. Wish I had a photo to share, but don't have one currently on file in my computer...oh, well. Also wanted to comment that one of the books I've recently reviewed for Amazon, "The Intimate Life" by Judith Blackstone, while not explicitly dealing with GLBTQ ideas, has a wonderful application of the Chakras.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Trudie, please do take photos of your rainbow candles to share on Jesus in Love! We need beautiful, artistic photos of a candles lit like a rainbow for future Bridge of Light posts. Getting one of these candle holders has been on my “wish list” for a long time. I’d like to buy one so I can take some photos -- and celebrate Bridge of Light properly.

Patrick Cheng sent an enthusiastic message about this post. He likes the way that I fit his models of Christ with colors and principles. I used the 5 models that he shared here in 2010, but he reports that he has expanded it to 7 models, added the Self-Loving Christ and the Interconnected Christ as the sixth and seventh models. I’ll be reporting more about that this year.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Share my joy! I hear that my wish for a rainbow candle holder is coming true. You’ll all see photos on this blog. THANK YOU!