Winter solstice tradition returns to honour local teacher

Light fills up the left side of a glowing, laughing lady.
Jen Stevens was a teacher and "held space" for the community during the winter solstice. Photo by Darshan Stevens.
Loni Taylor - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 06-01-2023
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

This year's winter solstice celebration on Cortes Island brought a touching event back after a five year pause.

Alanah Caron and Jen Stevens initiated the light spiral ceremony in Mansons Hall, back in 2014. The winter solstice ceremony is a spiral shaped installation of cedar bows and candles that guides people to walk through and light a candle as they take a moment to move out of the darkness and welcome the return of the light.

The educators were running the Mansons Playschool and they both had a background in Waldorf education. Caron said that the first spiral was inspired by her Waldorf experiences and the teachers initiated the ceremony just for the kids. 

“It was really beautiful… magical…part of the Waldorf tradition is just holding these seasonal rituals and the spiritual connection that's involved with them.”

People calmly stand around a large installation of cedar bows and lit candles.

2022 will mark the 5th year of the light spiral ceremony being held at Mansons Hall. Photo by Dancing Wolf.

By 2017, the event had become widely attended and had expanded to include a DJ set by Dancing Wolf and group singing, in addition to the spiral ceremony. But the organizers faced major life changes in 2018 and 2019: Caron had a baby and Stevens was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2022. 

This winter, Dancing Wolf and Caron joined forces to bring the event back to honour their dear friend Stevens. 

“Part of it was just like the process of holding the spiral without her and really feeling the lack of her presence and that, also just having to step into the space that she held with the spiral,” Caron said.

Jen's daughter Darshan Stevens spoke about the healing nature of the 2022 event with CKTZ.

“Hearing Alanah express grief about my Mom being gone, and Dancing Wolf going to such lengths to make the space so beautiful, deeply touched that lonely part of myself. Knowing that other people are thinking of my Mom, and reckoning with the loss of her, maybe even lighting a candle for her in this deep winter, helps me move through my own grief," she said. "Or at least, feel companioned in my grief."

"I feel grateful that my Mom wove a rich tapestry with the community on Cortes because it means that my community members are my touchstones for remembering my Mom,” she added.

To hear more about the story of Alanah Caron and Jen Stevens bringing the spiral ceremony to Cortes, listen to the CKTZ News Update below: