EVERETT – Five hundred candles lined the Snohomish River Thursday afternoon as the sun set at 4:18 p.m.
Dec. 21 always marks the shortest day of the year, when daylight emerges late and hides early.
But this season has been darker than usual, said Karen Guzak, who planned the glowing riverfront walk.
Storms began to hammer the region in November, bringing floods, snow and wind. Hundreds of thousands of people around the region lost power, some more than once.
“It’s been such dark days,” she said. “We thought it would be a lovely way to gather the community and provide light for the winter.”
The winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that gets stargazers outside to take advantage of long hours of night-like darkness, said Mark Folkerts, president of the Everett Astronomical Society.
“If there are clear skies, I want to go out and set up a telescope,” he said. “You have a long night here so you can see the sky. You don’t have to stay up late.”
The solstice is a simple equation of physics, but to some, the event holds spiritual significance.
A small group gathered Thursday evening at Moonflower Magicks, a magic shop in Everett.
They sat in a circle and held candles to remember the mythic phoenix, which rises from the ashes of its former self.
Moonflower Magick’s Colby Avenue store was destroyed by fire in late October. It reopened in a temporary Hewitt Avenue space, but will soon relocate to a permanent Colby Avenue home about a block away from the original store.
“The sun coming back, rising from the ashes; it’s very helpful for a store that just burned down,” said Andrei Freeman, who led the ceremony.
Freeman is the leader of Intimate Fire, a group that hopes to become the Snohomish County chapter of Orto Templi Orientis, an international organization that traces itself back to the Knights of Templar.
Heather Freeman, Andrei Freeman’s wife and a Snohomish-based artist, wrote the ceremony.
“It’s based on an ancient ritual that if you didn’t do the right ceremony, the days would just keep getting shorter and shorter and colder and colder and the sun would never come back,” she said.
“Of course now we know the sun will come back, but it’s still something worth celebrating.”
Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.