Days grow ever shorter, and sometimes there is falling snow. Rivers and lakes freeze over, and an icy wind prowls the eaves of the little blue house in the village. What to do? I pull the draperies closed early and shut out the dusk and gloom beyond the windows, taking refuge and delight in small seasonal rites. I brew pot after pot of tea, pummel loaves of bread, concoct fiery curries, cakes 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.
Dark as the weeks ahead may be, there is light to come. It's December, and that means that in only three weeks or so, our northern days will begin to lengthen again. Hallelujah! It will be months until there is real warmth and light here, but at least we will be on our way. Yule marks our turning back toward light, and it may be my favorite day in the whole calendar year. When the solstice arrives, there will be merriment 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 just the Old Wild Mother's seasonal wobble that makes him seem more distant than he actually is at this time of the year. We and the hallowed earth are in constant spinning motion, 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 every Sunday at dusk in an observance called the Advent (or Solstice/Yule) Sun Circle. In doing so, I join a blithe circle of friends and kindred spirits in honoring the fruitful darkness and calling the sun home.
Elderly magpie creature that I am, and ever a passionate collector of seasonal and timely lore, I would just love to hear about your own "before Yule" practices. May there be light in your own wild, incandescent and precious life.