In the Bleak Midwinter

We are in the midst of celebrations decreed by the mainstream culture right now—as well as our own—but very soon we will return to the ordinary routines of our lives. The month and year on the calendar will change, but the season will be as it has been: in the northern hemisphere, cold, dark, with short days, long nights and frequent storms.

It’s rather a dismal time of year for most of us. The revels and reunions of Yule are past, and it will be quite awhile before the climate is once again friendly. Those working a 9-5 schedule awaken to pale light and leave work in darkness.

Especially with everything happening in the world, it’s easy to feel a bit down. Even as the cycles of life carry on underground and within the near-dormant tissues of the bare trees, it is hard in many places to tell that change is still happening. It is hard to see any sign that life will renew itself, and Spring will come.

It’s at times like this that our rituals and observances are more important than ever. We must step out into the crisp air to gaze at the glittering winter sky, to look for the ice rainbow around the moon. We must refresh our Focuses, light candles upon them, burn incense and conduct our private rituals. We must revel in the silence of falling snow, the patter of rain on the roof. We must see and celebrate the Sacred even in cold and dim days.

These days are also perfect for the more contemplative parts of the practice: for meditation, for saying of an Atheopagan Rosary. There are so many opportunities right now: to contemplate the nature of hatred and bigotry, to reflect on the vagaries of history, to muster the internal resources to resist the rise of values which fly in the face of kindness, tolerance, compassion. Go inward, learn and grow.

Atheopaganism requires effort, just like any Pagan practice. Devotion to the practice and reflection on its values and principles will deepen the experience of our religion, and make its observations more reflexive, more instinctual–with time, these practices become so rooted in us that we naturally turn to them in moments of sorrow or celebration or doubt.

The Universe is magnificent, and we are each a living, conscious part of it. As dark as things may get, they will become lighter again eventually. Hold onto your beliefs and your values, and enact them in ritual practices.

Don’t let the dark days get you down. We are and must  be keepers of the flame even when the weather–and the affairs of humans–drag us through cold and dark. Know that when you light your Focus, when you say a word of gratitude before a meal, when you carry out your morning or evening ritual, you are affirming that you are alive, and that life has meaning.

Hope remains, so long as we know this.

 

 

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