We are in the dark half of the year. I can feel it deep in my bones. The dark of early night, the crisp chill in the air that caresses my cheek as I walk on my way, the barrenness of the trees, it all reminds me of Her. I’m still feeling my way with this, but I hold an affinity for the Morrigan, the dark Goddess. Perhaps that is why this time of year fills me with inner peace. It’s part of the cycle of things. We cannot have life without death, joy without sorrow, it’s all part of the balance of things, an idea which pulled me to Paganism in the first place.
I’ve been thinking lately about how our traditions for this time of year came to be. In human history, particularly the British Isles, this time of year is dark and dreary and cold. Everything has gone into its winter sleep and us humans are just like the last person left at the party, looking around with a sudden surge of loneliness, wondering where everyone went. So to cope, we created a holiday to celebrate the birth of new life, the imminent return of spring, the end to the darkest half of the year, the winter solstice. We hang bright lights, immerse ourselves in each other, give gifts, and try to be as cheerful as possible.
My hometown decorates for Christmas, but nothing like my small town college has. There are lights everywhere and they feel like beacons, reminders that even when the world is at sleep and we’re the only ones awake in the dead of night, it’s going to be alright. In addition to that, we’ve created special music that is only played at this time of year, and is so annoyingly happy that a lot of us can only bear it in small doses. Translation, Christmas music.
When I was younger, I preferred warmer weather, sunny days and the light half of the year. That’s changed as I’ve grown. I like cold weather, I find myself craving it. Even though I relish the dark greens of summer, I also watch the barren trees sway in the cold breeze, content in the knowledge that they will see new growth, like us all. It’s almost like the rebuilding of muscles. It’s torn apart so it can repair and grow stronger. Nothing of this earth is meant to stay in permanent stasis, change is part of our makeup. These ideas are becoming a larger part of my life as time goes on, and they have helped me to cope in hard times.
Maybe it’s fitting that my graduation from college falls in the dark half of the year, even though I haven’t really given it much thought. The irony of the night is that when we are concealed from the light, we feel less of a need to hide who we really are. And with that, I think I just answered a question I’ve been mulling over for a while. Maybe it is time to stop hiding.