Tuesday, 20 December 2016
It is the longest, darkest night of the year
“ …when the sun is a small and distant thing. Imagine how it must have been, in earlier times before electric light. Villages cut off from one another as the snow drifted and the wind howled at the doors. The animals housed nearby, or inside, for there were still wolves and bears roaming the last stands of the wildwood. People sending their frail little prayers up to heaven for safety, and for health, and for the harvest to outlast the cold, dark days that seemed without end. How precious those little circles of firelight must have seemed. And in the darkness beyond not only hunger, sickness, disease, but all the fiends and beasts of the underworld, lurking, waiting to take their very souls.”
I thought I'd put it in the creature’s words - someone who understands not only the darkness of the year and the night, but also of the heart. For many of us, it has been a dark year, on a worldwide scale as well as a personal one. In my own damp corner of the Northern Hemisphere, that pale sun has hardly climbed above the thorn trees behind my house in days, and I’ve read the recent news wondering whether the world will ever seem a bright place again.
But it is only in the darkness that we are able value the light, the warmth, the kindness at their true worth. To my mind, that is what these midwinter festivals are all about - drawing in around the things which keep the night, the cold, the danger away - about reaching out to the people and things that we love, about thanking them for their actions, their words, their simple existence. Because the night is deep and dark and cold, but the dawn will come.
Meanwhile, there is a circle of light where you can warm yourself, there is a cup of mead from the hands of someone who cares, and a story to send pleasant shivers down your spine. These are the ways we keep the night at bay.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Time’s Fool this year, and have a Merry Yuletide and a Happy Holiday season. See you in 2017.