White witches welcomed winter to Beech Road in Chorlton with a traditional community blessing at sunset on the shortest day of the year.
Wiccan Trace Robbins and fellow white witch Doctor June Williams drew upon the natural energies of the universe to cast a spell on Chorlton Green designed to promote community togetherness, inclusiveness and warmth.
The blessing was the culmination of a free to attend community event on Beech Road in Chorlton, a strip of independently run shops, bars and restaurants.
The witches invited the community to cast out the old and welcome the new as part of the ceremony by writing their worries onto bay leaves that will be tucked into a traditional yule log, set alight at sunset.
They acknowledged the elements of air, fire, water, earth and our own human spirit using sound, coloured ribbons and the release of coloured smoke.
The witches invited the community to cast out the old and welcome the new as part of the ceremony by writing down any old and unwanted thoughts, feelings or emotions that they are ready to release onto bay leaves that were offered up to the fire.
The Yule log, which had been beautifully decorated by the local community giving individuals the opportunity to tuck or write a message upon it, was set alight at sunset.
They acknowledged the elements and the knowledge that magic is everywhere, in nature and in each one of us, using sound, coloured ribbons and the release of coloured smoke.
Trace Robbins, who runs a school for witches in south Manchester, explains: “The winter solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness and the rebirth of the sun. It is a time for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection.
“We invited the local community to hail and welcome the coming year at our blessing on Chorlton Green. We drew on the elements of air, fire, water, earth and spirit to bring our community closer together. Community starts with our homes, our neighbours, our workplaces, our friends and those in our community we are yet to meet.”
Mark Canny, of Beech Road traders, says: “In Chorlton, your value in the community is measured not by what you have, but by what you contribute. Our solstice celebration is about celebrating the human spirit and how it has the greatest power to shape how we live our lives.”
The blessing was part of an annual afternoon of activities on Beech Road in celebration of the winter solstice that includes fire dancers, face painters and mulled wine. There is an equivalent event held in summer to mark the longest day.
Talented artists from Manchester-based Mythica Performance Art danced with fire throughout the evening, there were family fun activities from glittery moon and stars face-painting to a kids hula hoop workshop.
The atmospheric evening was accompanied by live music from The Bowling Green Pub, and shops on Beech Road opened late for Christmas shoppers.