Photo from Laplander’s Natural Lore Blog
It’s the Winter Solstice, which in Druid circles is known as Alban Arthan. That magical time of the year when the sun seems to be stuck, setting in the same place on the horizon for a few days, and we experience the Longest Night. From the 25th the sun will start to set further in the west each day, giving us slightly more daylight. At first the change will be infinitesimal but it holds within it the promise of new life, and hope that better days will follow.
This period of darkness is an opportunity for inner reflection, for rest, for dreaming and for acknowledging the blessings and challenges of the night. It is an opportunity to let go of that in our lives which is finished or dying. While we mourn the loss of the light, it’s important to remember that when we release our longings for things that have past, it makes room in our hearts to nurture the still, small light of hope.
Yule, Christmas, Diwali and the other midwinter festivals celebrate the return of the Light and in our Alban Arthan ritual we also acknowledge the rebirth of the sun, which is heralded by the arrival of the Mabon. In ritual this is preceded by a period of mourning, and the symbolic covering of our eyes while we meditate on the dark. So before we all rush headlong into celebration I’d like to encourage you to use this Solstice period to spend a few days contemplating the gifts of darkness.
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark.
Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.
To Know the Dark, Wendell Berry