Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

Yule and the Winter Solstice Moon

Max on the Winter Solstice

Tuesday gratefuls: My slab, all fabricated, comes home. Jodi and Blue Mountain Kitchens. Jon. Birthday dinner at the Black Hat tonight. The darkest, longest, deepest night. Yule. The Winter Solstice. First tarot reading. Max, growing.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Fabrication

Tarot: going to create my first Celtic holiday spread, a Winter Solstice one. I’ll report later. This is the first day in my year long study of the Wildwood deck in particular and Tarot in general.


The quartzite fabricator has met his schedule, bless him. He will be here today to put in my new counter top. This is the piece I chose, the more expensive one, because I didn’t want the next few years working on a counter top I’d settled for. Excited to see it in place. Coming around 9 or 10.

Brian, the cabinet maker? Not so much. Looks like the promise of my kitchen coming home by Christmas ain’t gonna happen. My friendly cynic Alan predicted this. I chose to believe. Sigh.

I have asked Jodi if she can have Bowe come and connect my new sink and dishwasher if we’re going past this week.


Jon and I will attempt a reprise of the birthday dinner. I’m looking forward to it. Black Hat Cattle Company. I’ve had great meals and horrible meals there. Hope this is a good one. Planning to try to get a better bead on how he’s doing, where he’s going. With the family in the picture I’m feeling easier about him and about us.


Did my first ever Tarot reading yesterday for Luke, the Executive Director of Beth Evergreen. The Tree of Life spread I learned from Mark Horn. It was both harder and easier than I had imagined.

Harder in that I kept wondering what I’d say next. Each card has its own meaning and that meaning has a link with the sephirot on which it falls. My knowledge of the cards is still very sketchy and my knowledge of kabbalah, though better, is very far from deep.

Easier in that I found I could go from the images on the card and my understanding of the sephirot to questions that brought a point of reflection home to Luke. I think I talked too much and knew too little. Other than that, I’d give myself an attaboy for the first reading.


The Winter Solstice. The beginning of Yule. It’s my favorite time of the year! Darkness. Gets a bad rap. The longest night is as important to our soul as the longest day is to our crops. I think of this day as the culmination of the promise made on September 29th, the Saint’s Day of the Archangel Michael: This is the springtime of the soul!

As the darkness and cold of winter offers us a chance to sit by the fire, get warm, read, dream, the longest night offers us a chance to go as deep as we can into the inner structure of our becoming. Yes. Of course. You can do so at other times; but this day, this night reminds us of how deep we can go, how much of our life happens in darkness occulted even to our own consciousness.

Since I left the Christian ministry in 1991, I’ve stayed steadfast against transcendence as a spiritual goal. It takes us up and out of ourselves, away from this reality, away from life. It also reinforces the idea of a three-story universe with good heaven, to be suffered through earth, and a bad hell. And, with the Roman Catholic hierarchy leading us toward heaven, it has reinforced the patriarchy of Western culture.

In rebelling against transcendence I chose to go down and in, rather than up and out for spiritual sustenance. I wanted to sanctify this world, this place that we know. Existence before essence. That meant I wanted to know what happened in the interior of my life, how it could inform my journey.

So happened that the Great Wheel came into my life at the same time. When I started to write novels, Kate suggested I find something close to me as subject matter. At the time I was learning about the Correls, my Irish ancestors from County Wicklow. I chose to look into the Celts, their history, their mythology, their religion.

I learned so much. The Faery Faith, by Edward Evans-Wentz, took me into the daily, seasonal lives of 19th century Celts still involved with the auld religion. The holidays like Beltane and Samain, Lughnasa. My first awareness of them from this exploration.

Then I discovered the Great Wheel. The expanded Celtic calendar of holidays that includes the solar holidays, equinoxes and solstices, with the cross-quarter holidays peculiar to the Celts: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa, and Samain.

The Great Wheel was the key that unlocked the door to my new spiritual path. It’s seasonal and I’m a Midwestern boy attuned to their changes as they relate to the agricultural year. The Great Wheel is an agricultural calendar so it matched my lived experience in the corn and beans belt of central Indiana.

Now, thirty years plus later, I’m growing beyond my rebellion against transcendence. I still don’t want or need its reinforcement of patriarchy, of hierarchy. But. Transcendence can place us in this interconnected web of evolution, a literally universal process happening both in us and outside of us. Transcendence can be the way we come out of the comfort of our own interior to interact with the ongoingness of all things.

The Summer Solstice, the longest day, the promise of the Sun’s energy delivered to plants so that our lives might be sustained, is the holiday of transcendence. A time when we go beyond ourselves, feel beyond ourselves. Live in the web aware of the web.

The Winter Solstice, the longest night, the promise of fecund darkness, of fallow times, of the life that gathers in the dark world of the top six inches of soil, reminds us of our precious particularity, our uniqueness, our once and only time. We go down, down into what Ira Progoff called the Inner Cathedral. We knit together our shadow, our unconscious, our consciousness, go down the inner Holy Well that connects each of us to the collective unconscious. We knit them together, see them for the whole, the distinctive pattern, that is our Self. It’s a both/and, our uniqueness and our can’t get away from it interconnectedness.

Gone on too long. Sorry about that. Can’t wait for night to fall. This night, this Holy, Sacred, Blessed night.