It is what happens at this time of year when the days grow ever shorter and snow falls, when rivers and lakes freeze over, an icy wind howls in nearby gutters and the eaves of our little blue house in the village. I pull the draperies closed early and shut out the gloom beyond the windows, taking refuge and delight in small seasonal rites. I brew pots of tea (one after the other), pummel loaves of bread, concoct fiery curries and spicy cookies, draw, read and dream, plot luxuriant gardens for next year (more roses and herbs, perhaps a whole Medicine Wheel garden) and forge grand schemes which will probably never see the light of day.
As dark as the days ahead may be, there is light to come. Here we are in December, and that means that in only three weeks, our northern days will begin to lengthen again. Hallelujah! It will be months until it is truly warm and light here again, but at least we will be on our way, and Yule just may be my favorite day in the whole turning year. When it arrives, there will be celebrations and silliness, candles, music and mulled cider to drive away the darkness and welcome old Helios back to the world. He is still here of course - it's the Old Wild Mother's seasonal wobble that makes him seem more distant than he actually is at this time of the year. It is we and the hallowed earth who are in constant spinning motion, and not the magnificent star at the center of our universe.
As sunlight hours continue to wane between now and Yuletide, I am lighting a special candle each Sunday at dusk in the timeless observance called the "Solstice (or Advent) Sun Wheel". In so doing, I join a grand and gently glowing circle of kindred spirits in honoring the fruitful darkness and calling the sun home.
Being the elderly magpie creature that I am and a passionate collector of timely lore, I am very interested in your own "before Yule" practices