There have been several changes to the Bridge of Light holiday since it was first celebrated in 2004 (the first gathering used the name Yuletide). While much of this information is technical of interest to a few, some of you may find the historical details of interest.
I originally derived the meanings of the colors from principles in Integral philosophy (a nonsectarian philosophy based on the principles of spiritual evolution and the mystical thread connecting all the great world’s religions). I still find my inspiration for the holiday as fundamentally “Integral,” but I apply the principles differently.
In the 2004 version of the ritual, the colors represented main stages of evolutionary spiritual development, with each color aligned to a specific vMeme of Spiral Dynamics theory of cultural evolution. In subsequent years, this narrow inspiration proved problematic on several levels: first, I have never really adopted the color scheme of Spiral Dynamics into my spiritual practice; second, I have begun to place more emphasis on the modes or lines of development than stages, and now use the chakra system as a convenient traditional way of describing these modes; third, the ordering and naming of the principles was overly esoteric and this probably hindered more widespread adoption of the ritual.
There is wisdom in favoring simple principles that are easily communicated to others based on traditional associations that are already widely in use and need not be reinvented. The color associations of the charkas are an excellent way of communicating basic principles of evolutionary spirituality without being too heavy handed or rigid.
As a side note, I will add that new color scheme and ordering is compatible (if not a direct match) to the eight-mode developmental model that I have begun to use in my 2009 writings on the Kalendar, my vision of sacred time, so all in all I believe the modifications help to bring the ritual into line with my best and most contemporary insights into the spiritual significance of homophilia.
I fully credit Kittredge Cherry for originally suggesting use of the charkas for defining the principles. Her meditation on the chakra meanings and their specific application for LGBT spirituality have been quite valuable. I have more or less adopted her ordering and descriptions of six of the seven principles with only minor modifications. (Just as I have fully credited Toby Johnson for originally suggesting that the holiday be held on the New Year rather than the winter solistice, an idea that has improved the ritual considerably.)
Kittredge advocated differentiating between the first and second chakras (red and orange) because these principles are of particular importance for the LGBT community and I couldn’t agree more. Also, her color scheme lends itself well to ordering the candle lighting in a more straightforward evolutionary scheme than my original ritual: (1) red, (2) orange, (3) yellow, (4) green, (5) blue, and (6) purple. I think that these are developments for the better.
Kittredge also recommended combining the eye and crown charkas into one in order to fit the six-color scheme of the rainbow flag with the seven-color scheme of the traditional chakra symbolism. Upon further meditation, I have opted instead for a different solution that retains all seven charkas. I achieved this by adding a seventh principle (depicted by two candles, one black and the other white) for New Year’s Day.
By adding a seventh candle on New Year’s Day just for the crown chakra, then we can retain a celebration of the third eye chakra. It’s my conviction that the Third Eye, representing holistic understandings, integral models of development, and “Right Understanding” (to use a Buddhist term) in the service of enlightenment is somewhat neglected in LGBT spirituality. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to reinforce the principle’s importance.
Kittredge adds, “I see this as a work in progress, and am open to ongoing dialogue about it.” And that is my own opinion as well. I’m publishing these recommendations now, a couple days in advance of Dec. 26, when some individuals will begin their own Bridge of Light rituals, and encourage feedback from the community.
I intend to light seven candles for my own celebration of the Bridge of Light. I expect my celebration will look like this:
Evening of Dec. 26. Light a red candle in honor of the Root of Spirit, the Principle of Community.
Evening of Dec. 27. Light a second candle, orange, in honor of the Passion of Spirit, the Principle of Creativity and Eros.
Evening of Dec. 28. Light a third candle, yellow, in honor of the Core of Spirit, the Principle of Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization.
Evening of Dec. 29. Light a fourth candle, green, in honor of the Heart of Spirit, the Principle of Love and Compassion.
Evening of Dec. 30. Light a fifth candle, blue, in honor of the Voice of Spirit, the Principle of Self-Expression and Justice.
Evening of Dec. 31. Light the sixth candle, violet, in honor of the Eye of Spirit, the principle of Integration and Wisdom.
Morning of Jan. 1. Light the seventh and eighth candles, black and white, in honor of the Crown of Spirit, the principle of Spirituality and Universal Consciousness.
How will you embrace the Bridge of Light?