Those of us used to going and doing during the holiday season may deeply feel the absence of the frenetic pace and festive atmosphere of yesteryear. But in days of old, it was not uncommon to spend this season in quiet contemplation.
Imagine yourself in this earlier, ancient time. Darkness falls early in the day, so the fire and candles provide warmth and light. These are antidotes to the cold, depressing weather. You might sleep more hours each night, or awaken in the wee hours with uncharacteristic bursts of creative energy.
Harvest is over. You have the time you need to explore your thoughts and feelings on these longest of nights. Stories after dinner offer illuminations in a heroic tradition. In your simple, comforting home, there will also be divination, a throwing of light on the future yet to come, or games of chance, throwing the dice for Fortuna’s sake.
The firelight is a doorway of shamanic journeys, offering otherworldly relief from the sameness that coldness brings. What do you see there in your visions? What do you see when you dream?
Home is a refuge, even in the darkness. Each morning, you offer gratitude for the warm bowl of oats offered you by your beloved. You go out into the forest and ask permission from the tree spirits - or perhaps offering a libation - before gathering the evergreen boughs, holly, and ivy.
For all is not lost or barren, but a promise. The light and growth will return.
Gatherings, in this time, are meant to throw off the darkness like an unnecessary cloak. Friends and family gather, each bringing a dish to share. There is dancing and singing and blustering laughter. Above all, there is generosity, at the root of all giving.
Instead of gifts, you parcel kindnesses to offer others: a packet of seeds; tea from your garden; or a finely dipped and turned candle with a wick tightly hand woven from flax, meant to burn slowly to mark the return of the light.
Imagine that this year, we choose to receive the wisdom of the ancients.
The limitations of the current situation offer us an unprecedented opportunity to revive, reconnect, and rekindle the light within ourselves, with spirit and intention.
For example, instead of uncomfortable family gatherings, we choose organized online parties at scheduled times. Instead of overspending, we are picking up hobbies: crochet, decoupage, painting. We are blending our teas and mixing our remedies to extract the goodness we need to cast off inertia and illness.
We are picking up the pieces and finding ourselves whole.
The absence of what has gone before doesn’t mean that we’re missing out. It means that we get to consciously and intentionally choose what we’re allowing in. That we can take a moment to work on our own unresolved jetsam and flotsam, gathering and stringing together new understandings like seed beads whose cord is meant to be worn then broken. For it is in the breaking of tradition that we release that which is no longer needed.
May Yuletide blessings find you, wherever you are.