Advent Offering for Women

(art: Cathy McClelland)

Journey through Advent with a virtual circle of women celebrating soul.

Each Sunday of Advent brings a new invitation to shape space–inside you–on a journey to the sun’s rebirth with the Winter Solstice.
All those who identify as female are welcome. All faith traditions welcome too. Diversity enriches the journey!
Step outside of time each week and steep inside the gift of you–your life, your gifts, your challenges.
You decide when and where to participate with each Advent invitation which will be posted at dusk on the four Sundays before Christmas (and again on the Sunday before New Year’s Eve.)
Week I, Sunday, December 2: EARTH
Week II, Sunday, December 9: WATER
Week III, Sunday, December 16: FIRE
Week IV, Sunday, December 23: AIR
Bonus Week V, Sunday, December 30: BLISS (New Year Visioning)

We’ll move through the elements together with a combination of online invitational prompts and handwritten mailings.

Sliding scale (pay what fits you this season):

Affordable $33
Sustaining $44
Providing   $55

Enroll you & friend/relative(s):
Giftgiver (for 2)   $77
Giftgiver (for 3)   $111

Facilitator Kelly Salasin is a lifelong educator, retreat leader and yoga/yogadance instructor. Kelly is the creator of Writing through the Chakras, an online writing journey for women. She regularly assists leading presenters at Kripalu Yoga & Healing Center including visionaries Tara Brach, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Joan Borysenko, Julia Cameron, Tama Kieves & Dani Shapiro.

the deva in the darkness

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

by Denise Levertov


I wonder why we’re so quick to reach toward the Sun on Solstice.

Why do we dismiss the gift of the darkness?

Sipping margaritas under the summer sun is simpler. Much simpler.

I’ve read that the days leading up to Solstice are the most feminine of the year–a time of pause, of rest, of surrender. Winter’s yin to summer’s yang.

I need that.

Why do I fight it then? (Curse it, even!)

Why do I place a higher value on the expression on my yang than on the yin which necessarily conceives it?

This Solstice day is a dark one in New England. I’ve lit my tree and my staircase and my wreath to make Holy the darkness. In this week before Christmas, I’ve opted for extra yoga classes instead of the gym–seeking that which is slow and restorative to anything more invigorating.

My doctor calls, suggesting an upgrade with my progesterone cream–offsetting the havoc inflicted by my shifting hormones.

I’m hesitant to claim the relief.

Do I not deserve it? Wouldn’t I prefer to be my usual, satisfied self?

These are the questions I ponder in my therapist’s chair.

She tells me that some women say that it is their PMS self that is their truest reflection.

Am I an edgy, agitated, easily-irritated woman?

I can be.

Do I want to be?

I’m surprised to discover that, right now, I do. I prefer her. She fits. She has something important to say.

Annie Dillard writes that, How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

This morning I wake in self-love, the first I’ve felt in weeks. Gone is my fractured mind and my ever-present angst. My body is tired, but I feel whole. Still. Contained. Embraced.

I open my computer, and watch as that changes. With each click of the mouse, my mind wakes to the day. My fingers speed over the keys, delighting in the rapid succession of taps. Despite this engaging stimulation, my wellbeing begins to fray.

When I click on my browser, I am at once overwhelmed by how many pages I work at one time. I close all but one, and then suffer the lack of efficiency.

I resist the urge to check email while a page is loading. I don’t scan Facebook. I stay present to the site that is open in front of me. Even though nothing is happening. Even though I am bored. Even though this is impractical.

I witness how my thoughts race ahead of my body. I bring them back. I am gentle.

Slowly my sweet sense of sanity fractures away. The phone rings. An email comes through. A Facebook chat chimes. The Christmas cd skips. I have to pee.

Had there been sun–or hormones–I wouldn’t have noticed any of this…

This is how I live my life.

This is its cost.

This is the darkness illuminating the price tag.

Kelly Salasin, December 21, 2011

To read more on self & the holidays, click here.

To read more about the Sun and Winter Solstice, click here.

Winter Calling

"Cosmic Sun" Doesburg (

“North, the dark turning, the spiraling universe, slow guidance of starlight.

Where are you in this universe?

Touch the Earth–you are here, embodied in the sensitive hand, in the Earth you touch.

Breathe–you are here, in sacred life, in the intimacy of your breath, in its confluence with the breath of trees, of seasons, of galaxies.  You are here.

Sacred Fire, the core of stars, the center of the Earth, the light within the matrix, soul fire–warmth of your smile–you are here.

Mysterious ocean, fluid fertility, your heart’s realm of dreams, where consciousness casts its nets and learns the currents and tides of power.  Here also you find yourself.

Touch the winter Earth, set your feet to the mountain’s path.  In this season, you will seek the high ground, learning to pace your energy, keep your balance, patiently commit yourself to the long haul, and at last stand free of the shadow with wisdom.”

(from The Spirit of Place, Loren Cruden, 1995, Destiny Books.)

A Tribute to the Sun on the Winter Solstice



A few years ago I left my home in the mountains to spend a wintry week at the beach.
There, I had an unexpected affair with… the Sun
from Seduction to Awakening
in 7 days

“The dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.”


Sun Affair

Day I: Seduction

The Dawn

I wake in darkness, long before dawn,
and wait…

Wait till the sky begins to color in swaths
of peach and pink.

There in the distance,
I make out a light…
–a ship on the horizon
–a bright star
but too golden to be either.

I wait and watch
that flickering light,
until I understand that it is the jeweled promise of a new day

And then I throw on my coat and my boots
and run toward the beach
to catch it~

And though it seems to try, again and again, it never shows its face–
Simply paints the sky
lighter and brighter from its hiding place.

I return home, drowsy
thinking the day too overcast
to catch a sun.

I nestle back into my writer’s perch–
a cozy seat, looking out at the Atlantic
in soft light.

Yet in the moment that it takes to
tend the simmer of my chai at the stove
and place a steaming mug next to my sleeping beauty,
I find the white wall beside my chair

Awash with bold color!

Gasping, I run toward the sea again and find
a bright orange ball, hoisting itself
out of the ocean
and above the clouds
Bathing my face
in glorious light.

Those who wake only moments
later, find a world
winter white.

A thin line of color remains
where ocean meets sky,
a wink to those who witnessed this
particular dawn show.

The Sunset

At days end, we catch each other’s eye
across the bay
in a moment of “what if…”
but turn our separate ways, until

Night falls and I see
that he’s taken a paintbrush
to the sky.

I turn my head away, and rush
with milk,
unable to bear
such an unrequited

Day II:  Lover

This morning I’m stirred in the dark again,
but weary from the early rising the day before,
I attempt, again and again, to drift
back into my dreams.

“Go see the sun rise,” I nudge my sleeping husband
hoping his action will quell my own.

But once the room begins to lighten,
it is I who leaps from the bed once more,
Simmering chai while quickly dressing,
pressing my husband to come along.

I rush toward the beach,
mug bouncing in hand,
while my husband stumbles a block behind me.

He takes shelter from the wind beneath the deck
of a vacant, beachfront hotel,
and I turn back to join him there,
Sipping our hot drinks from this sterile perch.

Until,l I glimpse

Just a nail tip
of an orange orb
behind the horizon lined clouds.

My husband yells something about “shoes and sand”
as I fly down the dunes to meet Him.

And there in full view of my man with whom I share my bed,
I open my arms to Another’s embrace,

Receiving him inside my heart,
wishing I’d come alone.

Later when I crawl back under the covers
instead of starting the day,
my husband rebukes these dawn antics,
tells me I have “crush” on the Sun.

I smile slyly before drifting off,
wondering how I will leave this Lover behind
when it’s time to go home to the mountains.

Day III:  Quarrel

I wake at before dawn for the third day in a row
the demands of this relationship
opening the blinds to see if he’s there
heading to the kitchen to brew my chai

to Wait,
wait, wait

for Him

It’s always Him,

WHERE is He?

When will He come?

Will I make it in time?

And then He mocks my indifference
and doesn’t rise.

He leaves behind his studly orange garb
and appears later, higher,
in Regal Robes
of gold,
Holier than thou light,

Casting his halo upon me,
soft, brilliant hues…
subduing my angst,

and i know,

I know

Wherever i go

He is with me

not as “other”

but as “One.”

Day IV:  Stalker

Exhausted, I want to forget him
Return to my sunless life
Enjoy the ease of an afternoon
Because I can no longer manage these dawn interludes.

But He is always there
and i feel him
pulling at me
even in my sleep
even on this overcast day
even with His filmy light

Day V:  Parting

I wake and realize that He is Risen
Without me.

I feel both relief
and Vacancy.

Today, I return
to the mountains
To a sun hidden behind hill and forest,

And I wonder,
How will I live without our ocean dawns?

Or is he one and the same
wherever I go?
Across the Millenium
Gandhi, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha?

How will I know him
without that brightly colored garb
or regal robe?

Can I return to him even if I cannot always stay,
Prodigal lover?

This morning I wake
with those
who know the world only
winter white.

I have missed the magnificence of
His dawning,
and I know it will
be a long time,
a long, long time,
before I embrace Him again.

His love is
a blessing of light on my life.

Shining, but never joining
in bed.

Gate of the Morning,
I give thanks
for this new day.

Day VI:  Home

Who is it that shines in the sky and lights my morning mountain bed?  Bright, white, rising above the pines, reflecting snow?

It can’t be you.

It can’t be the orange garbed painter, the regal robed artist.

That beach, those sands, are over 300 miles away.

There is no sea here.

How do you still find me?

How large and omnipotent are you?

Unfathomable, inconceivable light reaching, heart touching, morning waking orb?

You are the light of the world.

How can that be?

You are the light of the world?


How can I experience such an intimacy to

the ONE
who belongs to ALL?

And what about you,

Are your rays that wide?

Sun, tell me.

How is it that you touch me so deeply while touching billions of others at once?

Embracing land and sea, forest and mountain, jungle and desert?

Through rain and snow and sweltering heat?

How can you be so large?


And how do I bridge our intimacy with

the impossible span

of your


Day VII:  Awakening

I haven’t just discovered you, have I?

This has been a life-time affair.

Why didn’t you tell me?

How painful it must be to wait…

My childhood days with you on my back,

Mountain mornings of Sunshine on my Shoulder,

Marshland sunsets,

Pond dusks…

It has always been you and me, and then I forgot.

How do you love such amnesiacs?

(Funny that we wait

for the You to rise

into view,

when it is we

who are turning.)