This morning, soft gray dawn peeks through my bedroom shades at 6 a.m. With daylight savings time gone, I wake up early, but miss those summer evenings when I walked my trails at 9:00 p.m.
In the dark days, it’s easy to slip into a world of twenty-four hour light. Night lights, porch lights, hospital hall lights, floodlights. Shopping mall lights, traffic lights, street lights, and cell phone chargers pulsing light.
It isn’t easy to find darkness in our world.
At my rural home, I turn out the lights and watch the black night sky. I see the moon in all her phases. Venus beams low in the west. Out my south windows, I notice a bright dot near the moon and want to know its name. I point my cell phone in the right direction and Google Sky reveals a map of constellations, planets, and stars. It’s Mars with a faint reddish glow.
Now I know, but do you see how the light creeps in?
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” ~Helen Keller
For ancient Celts, Samhain, the origin of Halloween, marked the passage into darkness. A time to gather, hunt, and put up food. Time to store seeds and tubers to plant in spring. Time to gather wood for winter warmth and cook fires. Time to give thanks for the harvest that fed the community ’til spring.
In a well-loved Russian story, the maiden Vasilisa traveled alone in the darkest forest in search of Fire. The doll in her pocket, a gift from her dying mother, protected and advised her. Approaching Baba Yaga, the keeper of the Light, was tricky and treacherous. In modern times, Baba Yaga morphed into an evil witch, but she was the keeper of what humans long for and need–Fire and Light. When Vasilisa honored the Darkness, the Crone shared her Light.
I live on a windswept hill and know the challenges of dark nights and cold. My antidote is time outside, no matter what the weather. I wear snow pants, wool socks, and layers. Many layers. Like Hecate, a Greek Goddesses of the night, and like Baba Yaga, that wise old crone, I travel with a dog.
The dark time brings quiet if I let it have its way. Snowdays and icedays when the world stops and plans are canceled.
Inspired by Hestia, Greek Goddess of the Hearth, I open the wood stove, stir the embers, and add dry wood. The fire flares red and warm.
A long quiet evening lies ahead. Time to ponder. Time for silence. Time to light candles. Time to remember and rest. Time to pray and give thanks. Time to write and read. Time to sleep and time to dream.
Time to find the jewels within the Dark.
When the moon shines bright, I walk into the cold night with my dog. She shows me how to love it all. The Darkness and the Light.
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Do you get depressed during the long dark days? Do you spend time in warmer climates? A few readers welcome spring in the southern hemisphere now and others live in places where it’s rarely cold. I need to focus on the good things about the coming months. And I needed to settle on the peace I create in daily life with a distance on election news and political chaos. If you’re interested in reading more about goddesses, you’ll like Home with Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth. For a blog about the challenges of winter weather, see I Thought I Could.