On Saturday 18 December our local friends and neighbours were invited in for some seasonal cheer at our annual Winter Gathering, a popular community celebration and bringer of light at this dark time of year in northern Scotland. The Universal Hall was filled to capacity as 350 people from the Foundation, its wider community, and people from the local villages of Findhorn and Kinloss and town of Forres, together created an evening of fun, entertainment and awe, anticipating the approach of the solstice and winter holidays.
Community dancers and singers, and performers from the local area, put together a warm and convivial evening of festive entertainment. It was a joyful way to end one year and begin another. In the afternoon there was a special gathering mainly for children and their parents, where the kids were involved in performance, audience participation and welcoming Father Christmas and the 13th Fairy, who made their appearance to the delight of children of all ages.
The evening’s highlights included songs from our local Big Choir, an appearance by community member Mike Scott, candle lit sacred dancing, and a quartet performing beautiful instrumental music. Fun was in abundance as the whole audience joined in a version of the 12 Days of Christmas, with each day sung and acted by a portion of the audience with much laughter and celebration. An awe-filled moment was to hear and sing Silent Night in many languages from all around the world.
There were refreshments offered in the Hall foyer, and a chance to meet and chat. After the entertainment a ceilidh with live music and dancing until late gave the evening a lively finish.
“I thought it was the best Winter Gathering I have ever been to,” said community member Yvonne Cuneo, “The Universal Hall was overflowing and everyone had a wonderful time. I especially enjoyed the participatory 12 Days of Christmas when the whole audience entered into the spirit of the evening with exuberance and laughter. I felt huge gratitude to be part of this creative and loving community, so rich and diverse and yet also with such a strong, unified heart.”
Traditionally, on the afternoon and evening of the solstice itself, the Hall will become a beautiful and tranquil setting for the Solstice Spiral walk, a contemplative honouring of the darkness and welcoming of the light. Community members will each carry a lighted candle as they walk a green and leafy spiral into the heart of the light and return again to the outer world, leaving their candle along the path to light the way for others to follow. The spiral walk opens at noon on Tuesday, 21 December.