Monday, September 22, 2008

Light and Darkness

Today is the fall equinox, also known as Mabon in the pagan tradition. Yes, this is another one of my crazy religious posts, but please bear with me. I do have a point. ;-)

In the pagan tradition there are eight holy days: the two equinoxes, the two solstices, and the four cross-quarter days between them. The half of the year that lies between Ostara (the spring equinox) and Mabon is known as the light half of the year; the other half is known as the dark half of the year. On the equinox day and night –light and darkness –are precisely balance. Every day from here until the winter solstice each day will get a little bit shorter and the night will be a little bit longer. After the solstice the reverse will be true, until day and night are again in balance on Ostara. After that, day will overtake night until the longest day is reached on the summer solstice. Days will then grow shorter until we reach Mabon again and the cycle will repeat.

This is the sacred balance: that light and darkness must, on the whole, be equal. If this balance goes out of true, then problems will inevitably result. This may seem a strange thing to say, as in our culture we are thought that light is good and darkness is bad. But it is true nonetheless. Please note I am not talking about good and evil here. While evil can –and should be –seen as dark, there is nothing inherently evil about darkness. In fact, darkness is as sacred as light. Darkness and light are both necessary halves of the whole.

The womb is dark, as is the ground in which we plant our seeds. Winter and death are dark. We grow in the light and reach for the sun, then slowly decline and die. This is the pattern that has existed for time untold, the pattern that must exist for life to go on. Light and darkness, light and darkness.

Winter is necessary. Without winter, without the dark half of the year, then the earth can not rest. All life springs from darkness and all life returns to darkness. Without the cycle of death and decay new birth becomes impossible. This too is something we have forgotten in our culture –we cling to the light, believing that all darkness is evil and avoid death and other problems as long as possible. We have forgotten that everything flows in a pattern, that there is a cycle that repeats endlessly. The wheel does not stop turning just because we wish it to. The rules that apply to all of life also apply to countries, to nations, to everything that exists under the sun. ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’

Once more winter is coming. We entered the dark half of the year only a few minutes ago. I performed my ritual and came inside to write this essay. Not only is winter coming for the year, but for the culture in which we live. Do not fear the winter. Or the dark. These are not things to be feared. They are natural parts of life. Without winter there can be no spring. Without darkness there can be no light.

May the winter be mild, and may the spring to come be glorious.

Blessed be.

1 Comments:

Anonymous freeacre said...

A very eloquent and soothing post, ras. Thanks. I feel badly that this equinox passed by without much notice on my part. I'm happy to be reminded.

Our garden is freezing every night now. The chickens and rabbits are pretty secure in their enclosures at night. The rabbits water bottles are ice in the morning. Canadian Geese are milling around marsh areas. I think winter will come early this year. Bu, your post makes that seem OK.

9/24/2008 10:32 AM  

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