Winter Solstice: Spark the Dark!
Bastian: Why is it so dark?
Empress: In the beginning, it is always dark.
~ The NeverEnding Story, 1984
Fairy wrens sing to their embryos in their eggs before they hatch.
In the darkness of the egg, the little ones hear their parents’ songs: secret passwords and all secrets of wrens that can be thus imparted, that will help guide their way after they emerge from the darkness of the shell.
To be inside an egg, or the November/December advent of the year, or the new moon phase of time or a dark period of your life, makes you understand the rejoicing of light that is the Winter Solstice or Yule; the joy of the precise moment that the light turns and begins to pour back in over the edges of the day.
It happens in eggs, in months, in the year cycle and in human lives, too. In my own life, after a few years of waning, and a final dark emptiness, I am in the new moon, the lunar Advent: the rich potent time when you know the moon is there but you can’t see it.
I’m waiting for the bright crescent that will help me again to discern shapes and objects.
To explain this: my dear friend Andrea does lunar astrology.
According to it, we all are born at a particular phase of the moon and starting at that phase, a grand moon cycle sweeps through our life, curving in huge thirty-year arcs. According to my own moon trip, right now I am operating the phase before the moon starts to show—which is why I don’t always know whether I am coming or going.
If it were an earthly night, I would have to work by torch, which sometimes might go out. So, I have to try to make good decisions in faith. It reminds me of this part of the year, when late Fall crosses with early Winter and the woods are stark as a stripped altar and people decorate their homes with star lights to keep from giving up.
Yule, like the star lights on houses, is the ancient reminder that there is always hope.
That after the long barrenness, and ebbing, leaking light of November, there will arrive a purity and clarity of joy. When I was little and in Catholic school, every week in Advent all of the grades would congregate in the school hallway while one of our teachers lit the candle for the week. The songs we would sing were of yearning, of anticipation, of longing: ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel,’ and ‘Waiting by the Window.’
The hallways were softly dark and cool; I only dimly comprehended the significance of what we were doing as the light accumulated in the wreath.
I just wanted it to be Christmas.
I wanted the waiting to be over. I had no idea how to use how to use the gifts I was being given, of working within, of learning how to wait, of studying myself for the want of outer distraction. Advent, like the new moon phase before you can see it, like November, is a season of preparation.
For my seven-year-old self, there was only the wreath and watching the candles accumulate light, one each week, until the anticipation of Christmas became acute and almost unbearable.
We had no idea what we were doing, but just as all humans in this time before Yule, we were singing the new cycle into being.
Just as a fairy wren sings to her chick as he is forming. Just as the deep dark time before Solstice is the Universe brooding you, spreading her wings over you and teaching you the secrets that you will need to know when you crack your way out into the light.
Julia Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that creativity, like human life itself, begins in darkness. It is in these sometimes excruciating, clueless, meandering cave passages and tunnels, inside our eggs, that we gain the insights about ourselves that will arrive into use when the Sun starts to visit longer in the sky and when we at last see the crescent of the Moon.
Please remember that for every dark and unseen moon of our lives, there is a crescent. For every bleak midwinter, there is a Yuletide.
Try to recall this when you are in a deep phase. Because we are not all in the same seasons of our lives at the same times and it can seem difficult—and very alone—when everyone else around you is dancing in a full pour of light so bright you could read by it.
That is your learning time, just as the spark of light at Yule is your joy time. While you are hidden in the egg, before the light leaks in, before you bust your way out, learn your secret password in that creative darkness. And try to remember what you learned about yourself in the darkness, when you felt alone.
And you will be ready for the joy.
On any Yule, watch the sunrise if you can, especially the first eyebrow of light arch over the ocean, or mountains or treeline. Take hope from that, the hope of all human life, all carbon life on this earth that loves the Sun.
Brightness is coming.
The Sun in the sky is both allegory and macrocosm of that fact, of what happens in every life. Rejoice! Over the bleakness, through the caverns, through every darkest abandoned night, over every invisible moon, into each sightless egg,
And everything you learned in darkness prepared you for this hour.
Blessed be, Merry Yuletide and love, to the turning of the world!
Ed: Bryonie Wise
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