Hello, Darkness

Samain                                   Moon of the Winter Solstice

The holidays.  We’ve got no decorations up.  No Christmas or other holiday music plays here.  We did all of our shopping online.

When I was at Best Buy a week or so ago while hunting for a device to download pictures to Kate’s i-pad (no joy on that front even now), Christmas music played and, as I said here after that, I responded, singing along, even getting the little uptick in the heart that comes with the commercial or family holiday all Americans celebrate at this time of year.

I do miss some of the over doing, present wrapping–ok, I don’t miss present wrapping, decorating the tree–well, I don’t miss getting the tree, putting up the tree or the occasional nasty surprise like the one my friend Mark discovered when he watered and watered this year’s tree only to discover the pan had cracked and water had leaked out under the tree skirt, nor do I miss taking down the tree, cleaning up the fallen needles, Christmas music–responding in the store meant something to me, but only because I’d spent 40 days away from the US and this is one strong cultural tradition, over saturation spoils the effect, church services–well, I bailed on those a long, long time ago.

So, maybe I’m not too sad about our ascetic approach to the holidays.  Besides, the holiday that now means the most to me, the Winter Solstice, comes along now, too, and I do celebrate that one with candles, meditation and writing.

There is, though, a powerful need for reflection, for love, for warmth in all its manifestations.  Sergio, our guide on a tour in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the Americas, explained that winters there, where the nights are long long long, often results in depression.

Another argument for a Ge-centric faith, one that acknowledges the darkness, relishes its nurturing power, rejoices at the return of the light and doesn’t have to get overly metaphysical about it.

These brave festivals of the light like Deepavli, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule and even New Years all respond to the same fundamental astronomical fact, the lengthening of night and the ancient fear that the sun may not return.  In that sense they’re all good, but why not acknowledge, first, the fundamental reason for the season, axial tilt?

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