Tonight is the winter solstice, the longest night, the pivot point where we begin to see longer days and shorter nights. But tonight is also that indrawn breath that is held, not doubting that the turn will begin, but not totally assured that the light will rise. We hope we’re past the worst, but cannot be sure, so we court the future with candles and lights and bonfires. It has ever been so, for millennia.
When we didn’t have Wikipedia to tell us that when it got darker and darker the time would come when the light began to rise, we had a collective need to do something, anything, to bring the light back. Everybody knows that. But 2020 has hit us hard, and we’re tired. We’ve had an election, and that’s supposed to mean something, but there are pundits and bloviators and, of course, that big braying voice from the top, all of them saying hold on, don’t bank on it.
Do the old-time thing. Light that bonfire, in whatever way moves you. I’m setting the alarm for 2 AM, and Conrad has wood laid ready in the bedroom fireplace. There will be a little thermos of hot toddy with a bit of our precious Armagnac and the iPod will have our ritual music for our Moon circles cued up. This isn’t a Moon, but Peter Gabriel is celebrating rising from the dark, and that will feel right.
Whatever works for you, do it. If not tonight, tomorrow night. Honor the dark, because it is a necessary thing, and reaffirm your bone-deep knowledge that the light will begin rising, slowly, little by little. Charlie Murphy got it right his beautiful Winter Solstice chant:
“Light is returning, even though this is the darkest hour, no one can hold back the dawn. Let’s keep it burning, let’s keep the flame of hope alive, make safe our journey through the storm.”
I can hear it in the voices of the many circles we have had through the years when we could gather together. Listen, in the safety of your own home, and you can hear it.