Light and darkness

Lofoten, Norway

‘What does he sing of?’ Arren asked the mage… ‘Of the grey whales, and the albatross, and the storm…’ (from The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin)

Beyond my window as I write this, a dramatic fire-streaked sunset is submitting slowly to the darkness of the longest night: Winter Solstice.

In Ursula Le Guin’s book The Farthest Shore, the prince Arren and the mage Sparrowhawk witness the Long Dance, performed on the shortest night each year by the Children of the Open Sea. Far out beyond any land, they live on rafts, swimming like dolphins, joyful and alive. All of the shortest night, they dance by torchlight, and the chanter sings, tirelessly, until dawn.

But the story tells of magic being sucked from the world by one man’s fear of mortality, leading to madness, namelessness, and to the death of dragons. And so the chanter falters in his song, for he can no longer remember the words.

Every year has its share of horror and harrowing events, but 2014 seems to have taken a sharp twisting turn towards inhumanity. I feel that hardness and lack of compassion in myself, often, sitting like a stone in my heart. Not to the extent that I could conceive of, for example, killing children in their classrooms, but I sometimes wonder how many steps away that might be for each of us. What events and convictions might make us feel that torture is acceptable, that mass kidnaps and rape are legitimate political weapons, that it’s somehow alright for carers to abuse people who are elderly or have disabilities, that buying ivory when elephants are being hunted to bloody extinction for profit is just a trinket.

I wonder if, at this sacred time, we can look openly into the darkness and find some answers there.

And I also wonder if we can find the joy in our lives. Sometimes we feel guilty about our experiences of joy, about our laughter, when so much is going on that is terrible. But that’s when we need to own our joy the most. It keeps us truly human and holy – in its original sense of being whole.

At the darkest time, try closing your eyes, and look within. In the distance is a tiny pearl of flame. This is the sun within you. As you breathe, the solstice sun grows in power; reaching out its rays, it touches your heart, bringing life, and renewal. May its blessings fill you with light. (from The Winter King by Danu Forest)

 

Click here to join our community mailing list

Finding an alternative for “youthful”

Youthful Adjective 1. characterized by youth; young 2. of, pertaining to, or befitting youth: youthful enthusiasm 3. having the appearance, freshness, vigour, etc. of youth: She is 60 but her optimism has kept her youthful The word youthful has become a sloppy shorthand for a number of other characteristics. The dictionary definition above gives us just a couple of examples: the implication that enthusiasm…

Knowing the landbase

Tomorrow the wheel of the year takes another turn, marking the beginning of the Celtic festival of Samhain, mid-way between the Autumn equinox and the Winter solstice (here in the Northern hemisphere). The veil between the worlds seems to become thinner as we take this time especially to remember our beloved dead. These days are marked…

Lonely for beauty

I was painting a chair yesterday, listening to Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes read The Creative Fire, when I heard her use the phrase “Lonely for Beauty”. Why was I painting a chair? Because function is important, but not the only important thing in life. Needing a space to eat and entertain, I had bought a pine…

Of bats, quiet, and a full moon

Last night was the long awaited Friday 13th full moon. I’ve been so conscious lately of the sheer noise of life. By which, of course, I don’t mean only physical noise, although there’s plenty of that. There’s so much pressing in on us, so many day-to-day demands, terrible things happening in the world that simultaneously frighten us and…

Fear of dementia

Dementia. It’s the elephant in the room. The big fear that we will not be able to live out our crone years in joy and wit and strength. And I think there’s something about our baby boomer generation that believes we can conquer it, even though many of us will have known the experience of caring…

Rising

I wept today when I heard of Maya Angelou’s death. This surprised me: I’m not much given to mawkish sentimentality. I knew Dr Angelou only through her words (but oh, such words); there was no warmly remembered shaken hand at a poetry reading, no brief word of encouragement at a political meeting, no flourish of her…

Still kicking – and alive!

Thanks so much to those who have been sending plaintive emails asking if I’m OK. You know who you are! I am fine. I’m in the process of moving house and haven’t been able to focus on Pilgrim’s Moon recently. But I will be back very soon with news and views. Warmest wishes to all.

Goodnight Grandpa!

(Did you win an Earth Pathways 2014 diary? See the end of this post.) I used to love the TV show The Waltons. Do you remember it? The large family growing up in Depression-era America, struggling through financial troubles and a changing world seen through the eyes of the eldest son, John-Boy? If you do,…

Is yours an Earth Pathway?

Each year, I get a copy of the most beautiful diary you can possibly imagine. Called Earth Pathways, it is chock-full of poetry and other magical words, art work and festivity. Each day has the phases of the moon and sunrise and sunset times, and the festivals which mark the turning wheel of the year….

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...