Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Longest Night, Shortest Day

Tonight in the Northern Hemisphere marks the longest night of 2016. How fitting! The world has been through many changes this year ~ including an explosion of violence (phrasing intended).

Tonight we embrace the long darkness. Tonight we encounter the shadow within ourselves. Tonight, no matter which side of any quarrel or battle we may be on, we share as a collective in that reflective shadow.

We are entwined with that Shadow ~ the collective and the personal ~ through this long night. In many of the ancient traditions, fires were lit to stave off that darkness. Stories were told throughout the night. Tales of encounter and battle with unseen and unknown foe would be told by the many of the elders. Children would be allowed to stay up or, if they fell asleep, would be kept close to the fires themselves.

In some of the even more ancient places which were built like Newgrange in Ireland to catch the first rays of the Winter Solstice sun, the night was spent in other forms of rituals. We have no clear knowledge of them except that the very building of the passage place would have taken much planning. Some of the labyrinthine caves and rock passages may have been used for the same type of encounters with the Shadow on that darkest night.

In our day and age, we have electric lights or candles or kerosene lamps. Most places have some way to insure the longest night doesn't have to be encountered in the dark. But when we do, when we allow our spirits to face the Shadow, we find the energy and strength to face it. We get a better understanding of the palpable Darkness and the Spirits that inhabit the dark spaces. After all that's been done and come undone in 2016, we would be wise to spend the time gaining that understanding.

Tomorrow brings with it the shortest day, with the moment of Winter Solstice at 10:44 UT. Light is often described as wan on short days such as this. Yet it also brings with it the reassurance that the nights are growing incrementally shorter and the days ever longer. Warmth and sunshine will follow close behind. Bleak, overcast, dreary days will continue for awhile longer. Soon enough, we will find ourselves in the midst of greenery and bright colored blooms. But for now, the Shadow remains our sole comfort.... or discomfort, as the case may be.

What do you see when you encounter the Shadow? How do you embrace the darkness? What do you want to find when you awaken into tomorrow's light? What does the Shadow mean to you? How will you continue to prepare for the lengthening light of the days?

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