Days grow ever shorter; 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 the 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.
As in previous years, I am lighting a candle at dusk every Sunday in an observance called the Advent Sun Wheel, a practice crafted by the late Helen Farias of the Beltane Papers and continued by Waverly Fitzgerald at the School of the Seasons. In doing so, I join a circle of friends and kindred spirits like Joanna Powell Colbert and Beth Owl's Daughter in honoring the fruitful darkness and calling the sun home. The Sun Wheel actually began a week ago and continues until Yule, but I have been a little under the weather thanks to chemo and started my observance a week late this time around. Beth and I are on the same cancer journey this year, and I send her light and healing on her way. Let there be light, abundance and rude good health for all of us!
Elderly magpie creature that I am and ever a passionate collector of seasonal lore, I am very interested in your own "before Yule" practices. A belated Happy December to everyone!