Days grow ever shorter and snow falls now and then, but does not stay. Rivers and lakes are freezing over, and an icy north wind howls in the eaves of our little blue house in the village. At nightfall, I pull draperies closed and shut out the gloom beyond the windows, taking refuge in warmth 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 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 days will begin to lengthen again. Hallelujah! It will be months until it is 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. We and the hallowed earth are in constant spinning motion, not the magnificent star at the center of our universe.
Every Sunday from yesterday until the Solstice, I am lighting a candle at dusk in an observance called the Advent Sun Wheel, a seasonal rite crafted by the late Helen Farias, founder of the Beltane Papers and later adapted by Waverly Fitzgerald. In so doing, I join a circle of kindred spirits in honoring the fruitful darkness and calling the sun home.
Elderly magpie creature that I am and a passionate collector of timely lore, I am very interested in your own "before Yule" practices. Happy December everyone!