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Celebrations of light in the dark months

In early times, people performed ceremonies to show gratitude for the harvest and the sun that seemed to fade away a bit into the winter darkness and cold. The Solstice celebration was a reminder that the sun would grow strong again, lengthening the days with its light and warmth, bringing forth new life and ensuring survival with another harvest.

The celebrations of different cultures that occur around the shortest day of the year all have an element of light to them, and candles burn bright at this time of year. This year’s Winter Solstice falls on Dec. 21.

The Winter Solstice is celebrated by many locals, no matter their spiritual leanings. It is an important holiday to the local Pagan, Wiccan and Witch communities. The Russian River Black Hat Society will hold a Witches Winter Market to celebrate the Solstice this year. The event will fall on Dec. 18, a few days ahead of the Solstice.

Autumn Gillette is a local witch and the founder of the Russian River Black Hat Society. “Our market is similar to a craft fair but for witches and the like,” Gillette said.

Everyone is invited to enjoy a magical marketplace of vendors offering crystals, chocolates, enchanted candles, herbs, incense, divination tools, and more. There will be healers with their booths set up to offer healing sessions.

You’ll get to meet local witches and hear speakers from their community. It’ll be a fun and enlightening way to learn about the local witch community and to find unique holiday gifts.

Admission is free. They’ll be selling raffle tickets at the door, benefiting their society and the Redwood Empire Food Bank. They will also collect donations of cans of food to for the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

The event runs from 1-4 p.m. at the DeTurk Round Barn located at 819 Donahue St., in Santa Rosa.

“The organization, above all, is about acceptance,” she said. “There are a lot of places people are still afraid to come out of the broom closet but Sonoma County is accepting and supportive.”

Gillette said that the Sonoma County Pagan Group on Facebook is a good way for anyone to find information regarding the Pagan happenings in the county.

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