I invite you to embrace the darkness.  Embrace the stillness that can only come from the depth of those dark places within you.

On a cold night recently, I stood on my porch, enveloped in soft darkness, penetrated only by sparkling stars.  All was silent.  There was no wind.  The tide was low and the marsh was perfumed with sea life.  A barred owl called from the top of a water oak, piercing the darkness, startling me and sending electric shivers down my spine.  Three times called the owl. Another owl answered from a tree in a neighbor’s yard.  From the banks of the sound, Charlie, our resident Great Blue Heron, squawked his opinion.

Had I not embraced the darkness of my world, of this season, I would have missed a profound gift in my own yard.  I am grateful beyond measure.

In the darkness that precedes the returning light each year lies an opportunity for us to discover our own internal light, so often eclipsed by the bright external lights around us. We long for the light returning, but we forget to honor the darkness.  It is in the depth of darkness, of the quietude of blackest night, that we connect with ourselves.

Almost all world beliefs have some sacred day(s) connected to the returning of the light.  The coming of the light is portended by miracles and deep connection with divinity in many cultures.  In fact, the very word “light” brings joy, hope, and promise to most of us.

But before the light returns, I invite you to sit in darkness, in silence.  Use all of your senses.  Listen to the beat of your heart.  Listen to the sounds of the night around you.  Watch a sun set, silhouetting naked trees.  Breathe in the fragrance of Mother Earth as she prepares the ground for the cold days ahead, blanketing her land in leaves.  Taste the crispness of an apple, the warmth of herbal tea. Feel the energy of life in your palms as you lace your fingers together in prayer or gratitude.  Use the dark time to connect to your inner being, to your soul-self, to hear the wisdom of your guides, of your true self.

The Sun crosses the Tropic of Capricorn this year at 5:23 pm eastern time on Friday, December 21, bringing Winter Solstice to the Northern Hemisphere, Summon Solstice to the Southern Hemisphere, and heralding the Pagan holidays of Yule and Litha, respectively.

The Sun will have already set when the Solstice begins where I live on this longest night of the year. We will begin our Yule ritual in complete darkness.  Slowly, over the course of several hours, candles will be lighted to welcome the coming of the light, which will increase by a minute or two each day until Litha, or Summer Solstice, in June in the Northern Hemisphere.

But this year, we get an added bonus as the light returns.  The Long Night’s Moon is full at 12:49 pm eastern time on Saturday, December 22.  This means that on Friday night, as we are slowly lighting candles to welcome the light, the Moon is waxing toward fullness, gracing us with her light too.

Six months ago, I wrote a blog post about the Summer Solstice.  Here’s the closing sentence from that post: “What matters, I think, is what I choose to do with each minute of both the light and the dark of these days – living in gratitude and awareness that each moment is a gift I’ve been given.”  I believe this is still true, of course.  In this time of darkness, I remind myself I am a work in progress, and I offer gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given.

I wish you darkness.  I wish you time and energy to go within, to seek that place inside you where one small flame may flicker.  From it, may you fan the flames of joy, hope, peace, and love for yourself and the world.

Blessed be,