A ritual of light | Channelling its sacred power in your home
The short hours of winter daylight mark a stifled freedom. The weather is too cold to linger outside and the journey to work is huddled over a travel mug of coffee. We rush from one place to another and then scurry back home before the darkness settles back in to the sky. When your day starts in the dark and evenings draw in so quickly, the early months of the year seem to stretch the longest and a change of seasons couldn’t come soon enough.
In the Northern Hemisphere the vernal equinox in March marks the beginning of longer days over nights. It welcomes earlier sunrises and later sunsets. And with more sunlight, trees blossom, birds and butterflies migrate back and gardeners take up their tools to prepare the soil for the next phase of life.
Our ancestors revered this change in seasons; archaeologists have discovered ancient architectural structures created with extraordinary astronomical and design skill to mark precise moments in the suns ascent and descent on this day.
At sunrise at Angkor Wat, a revered UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia, the carved bas-relief and decorative flourishes glow with a rosey hue. On the Equinox, the sun continues to rise until it perfectly aligns at the tallest spire of the central tower of this sprawling ancient stone city and elaborate temple ruins like a fiery halo.
Meanwhile, across the globe, the sun sets on Chichén Itzá. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mexico, the 365 steps of the temple of Kukulcán – one for each day of the year – illuminates into a fantastical display of light and shadow. As the sun descends a shadowy serpent can be seen snaking towards a carved stone head at the base.
Just a stones throw from our HQ in Bath, Stonehenge looms on misty mornings. Although the exact origins of this stone monument are unknown, ancient druids would gather on the day of Ostara to watch the sun dawn on these mysterious arches.
And to this day, thousands climb the pyramid steps at the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico to stand with arms outstretched facing the sun as it rises on the Eastern Horizon. Loosely translated as ‘the place where men become gods’, it is said that on this day the pyramids emit a particularly powerful regenerative energy.
Each of these manmade structures were created to celebrate our sacred connection with the sun and while the possibility of climbing up a towering sunlit pyramid or tracing your Neolithic ancestry seems out of reach, every day we can create a ritual within our own homes that reconnects us with our immense relationship to the power of light.
After a day at work, or a brisk evening walk, step inside and find the switch for the hallway light. Perhaps it is a series of pendant lights or one elegant chandelier that bathes you in a pool of light but importantly it banishes the darkness and welcomes you home.
Pause here, perhaps a little longer than normal, within this pool of light to practice a cleansing ritual that removes the demands and stresses of the day from your mind. Carefully place these in the wardrobe alongside your winter coat and boots. Don’t push them to the back, organise each one on its own hanger, to be picked up again the next day with fresh eyes.
Walk into the kitchen and bright spotlights scatter across the kitchen island. These are the spotlights for your stage, your creative platform. The kitchen is the hub of the house not just because we tend to gather here but because it sparks creativity and innovation.
With dinner prepared, lay the table with ceramic tableware, coloured glassware, and candles. Candlelight at the dinner table welcomes your loved ones to join you in much the same way our ancestors would gather around the hearth: for warmth, protection, safety and nourishment. We pass stories around in the same way we pass dishes, inviting discussion and importantly rekindling relationships at the end of each day.
With stomachs and minds full we retreat to the living room: our sanctuaries, designed for rest and recuperation. Lamps are large and situated low to the ground with textural shades and iridescent inners that gently refract the light. Wall sconces are incandescent, gilded in antiqued gold. The effect is a warm and radiating glow like a landscape of small sunsets. With just a few quiet hours of free time, we wind down with a book, a documentary or a calming yoga session that invites us to heal and reconnect with ourselves.
And as we finally retire to bed, one or two bedside lights illuminate the room with lighting as soft as the bedlinen. Simulating the last light of dusk, this low, almost imperceptible, lighting encourages our eyes to rest and ultimately wind down the body and mind, ready for sleep.
With each switch we light our way through our home like a sacred ceremony. It is a slow procession of symbolism that uses the power of light to align us with a sense of belonging to the home and to ourselves. The lighting we choose in the home has a significant effect on rejuvenating the body and mind and, like the sun seekers at the Teotihuacan, we must value the importance of light on our mental health and wellbeing. Whether it is bright and invigorating or a soft ambient glow, feel empowered this Spring Equinox to embrace what lies ahead.