Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deep in the Dark of the Longest Night

Deep in the dark of the longest night
We keep our vigil by candlelight
Waiting to sing to the newborn sun
The universe will birth when the night is done

See the sun arising,
See the sun arising;
Darkness is gone!

Yesterday was the winter solstice, a High Holy day for pagans, and last night was the longest night of they year. I did not stay up all night as is the old custom, primarily for two reasons: I am still recovering from being very ill, and staying up all night by yourself is much different than doing so in a group of celebrants. At 6:04 this morning CST the sun reached its farthest point on the ecliptic and began its long journey back. From that moment on, there will be a little more light and a little less darkness every day until the Summer Solstice. Then the cycle will repeat, every year as it has done since the dawn of time and will continue to do until the end of time.

The sun returned in two ways this morning. First, the Solstice of course. Second, the weather has been really bad here for the past three weeks. It has been raining almost every day, and even when it hasn’t been, the sky has still been overcast. The only times it has been clear is at night. But when I rose this morning, the sky was clear of all save a few wisps of cloud. The newborn sun arose, a ball of liquid fire over the mountain. Despite the chill I ate my breakfast on the front porch, basking in the light. Welcome back, Ra! Apollo! Pan!

This is also the first day of winter, the time of the great cold and darkness. The Crone is in her full majesty right now –the old woman who holds all the wisdom of age, who guards the gates of Death and the keys to every world. The time of cold is upon us, the time of endings and transitions, the time of dark and cold. But, the Light is returning and each day spring will be a little bit closer, and the time will soon come when the maiden, newly born again, will frolic in fields of flowers and new grass.

This Solstice is a bit bitter sweet, for winter and the time of darkness has not just come to the world in the form of the ancient cycle of seasons. Our culture, our world, has also entered a time of darkness and we have not yet reached the longest night. Things are shifting, changing. Everything that once seemed secure is starting to shift. The moorings are coming loose. Deep in the corners, in the shadows, the whispers are beginning, the dreaded word that sends chills up the spine: depression. I heard them yesterday, even at the Solstice celebration. You can see the worry on peoples face, in the way they hold their bodies and clutch at their purses. I only made a quarter of what I usually make at the annual solstice fair. Part of that was the weather –it was pouring rain all day –but part of it must be attributed to the economy. Even here, in one of the most recession proof areas of the country, the affects are being felt. Stores are closing, people are being laid off, the discounts are amazing. And people are starting to worry.

You have no idea, I want to tell them. We are not facing a depression. We are facing a complete change in our way of life. Oil is almost gone. So are numerous other resources. We have built our entire way of life on a house of cards, a giant Ponzi scheme that has to come crashing down. We have forgotten the first rule of the natural world: Everything is interconnected, and when you touch one thing, you touch all things. We have also forgotten the second rule: Everything has a price. Everything. We’ve gotten away with not paying any prices for so long that we think there are not any. But there are, and the bill is beginning to come due. There must be a day of reckoning. And while that day may last more like a century or two, come it will. The first stirrings are being felt now, like the first leaves to drop in autumn. More will come.

It is going to be a long, long night and a rough winter. Much will change. Much will be destroyed. But, dawn will come. It always does. The Light will return.

One planet is turning
Circle on her path around the Sun
Earth Mother is Calling her children home
Light is returning, although this is the darkest hour
No one can hold back the dawn
Let’s keep it burning
Let’s keep the light of hope alive
Make safe the journey through the storm

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Anonymous murph said...

A most excellent post ras. Very well said.

12/21/2008 10:21 AM  
Blogger RAS said...

P.S. I want to make sure anyone who reads this knows I did not write the three songs quoted above, nor do I know who did. I have heard them many times, and seen the music, and nowhere are the author(s) listed.

12/21/2008 10:54 AM  
Anonymous freeacre said...

Beautiful sentiments, Dear ras. It is a comfort to me to think that our pitiful species is not in charge, and that, ultimately, the Earth and the Universe, are.

Our happiness, I think, depends on how much harmony we can establish with the planet. Until we get that, we are cursed to struggle outside the garden.

12/21/2008 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anna Armaiti said...

Hi, my name is Anna Armaiti, and I wrote the first song quite a number of years ago. There are three verses, and it can be sung as four part round:

Deep in the dark of the longest night
We keep our vigil by candlelight
Waiting to sing to the newborn sun
The Goddess will birth when the night is done

Raise your voices, sing on high
Let all the earth hear your joyful cry
On this night we sing to light
And the Goddess of all pleasure and delight

Raise your voices, sing your praise
O'er all the earth till the darknes fades
On this night we sing to light
And the Goddess of all pleasure and delight.

Happy Solstice!


Anna Armaiti

12/21/2008 4:59 PM  
Blogger MoonRaven said...

A belated Happy Solstice to you, RAS. I don't know how I missed this post (other than I was just coming out of my work&life&myownblog-focused overwhelmed mode). But you have written a beautiful and important post. It will be a long winter and we have a long night ahead--but I too believe that the light will return.

Incidentally, that song (Light is Returning) is by Charlie Murphy and was originally on his Canticles of Light album. His order of the song is different--beginning it with "Light is returning, even though this is the darkest hour..." and ending it with the verse "One planet is turning...Earth mother is calling her children home". This was also the quote I used for my solstice post.

Good luck with your break and your writing.

12/28/2008 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Kathy "Peak Shrink" McMahon said...

Beautiful, Ras.

The weather was so terrible, we couldn't spend the night at the bonfire, as we usually do with friends at the solstice. It bummed me out.

You are right about the natural correction that's going on, though. I can feel the weight of the change, the pain of the childbirth, morphing into something dramatically different. I try and whisper "let yourself float!" the those in despair, clinging terrified to the side of a swift-running river of change. We're bashed and knocked about if we insist on holding on the the old ways. We can relax and float, if we see it as inevitable.

12/28/2008 11:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home