All mixed up

For the next two months, I want to stay out of public places, especially ones where things are sold.  I was in a major home-improvement store the other day, and the aisles are crammed with extra displays, making moving around even more challenging.  November and December are the time of the year when Darkness reigns, and the Land of the Dead is close at hand.  Instead of gaiety and lights, this is the season of pulling back, letting go, spending time in the darkness.

Darkness is not evil, nor is it to be avoided.  Without darkness, we would not appreciate the light.  Western European cultures adapted to the long, dark winters, by conserving resources in the autumn, mindful of the months of darkness ahead.  Harvest festivals in late September and early October were the last celebrations that the populace engaged in until the Yule after the winter solstice.

The short days of autumn were when many people turned to handicrafts to pass the time, making things that were intended for a certain person.  Thoughts would turn to that person while one was working on their gift, giving them energy, and crafting the love into the item.  Giving gifts to young children was unthinkable, because children had no understanding of what sacrifice went into a gift.

Autumn is the time of Death, when the Life Force abandons the land.  Symbols of light and eternal life are diminished by the lengthening nights, premature signs of celebration that will not come until after December 25th.  Our ancestors prayed that the Sun would return to the skies, to bring life to the land again.  They would not dare to celebrate the solstice so early, as that would be begging for some calamity to befall them.

Seeing icons of the Yule Tide celebration at this time of year emphasizes the materialistic nature of our society, cheapening the potent magic that those symbols hold and confusing our young over what to expect.  To see these symbols so far in advance dilutes their meaning, and mixes up the understanding of where we are on the Wheel of the Year.  We need to appreciate the dark, to embrace it and accept it as part of Life.  Never should Light be taken for granted.

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