The Wheel Turns

The days are a bit longer now.

The area where I live has been beset by storm after  blessed storm, so-called “atmospheric rivers” pouring onshore to deluge the parched land of California. We smile beneath our rain hoods and grumble cheerfully about knotted traffic. And despite the dark, pendulous clouds, it is palpable: the days grow longer. It isn’t December any more.

Meanwhile, of course, the greater Darkness we knew was coming after November 8 is now manifesting itself. The petulant toddler we have elected is swinging a wrecking ball in every direction, cheerfully making a mess of all that is decent. This will continue.

The wheels are turning: astronomical forces beyond our control swinging the Northern Hemisphere slowly back into warmth and light, into fecundity and bursting birth and life and death again; the human cycle of history, currently grinding underfoot what is decent and kind and life-affirming.

How do we countenance such paradox? How bear such juxtaposition?

On the one hand, we must, of course, resist. As millions who marched this past weekend have, we must stand up and say that the ugliness of Trumpism is not ours, nor our vision for our world. We must inventory our strengths, take up our available weapons, and fight. This is not a time for mediation and understanding and conciliation, for what confronts us is nihilism and brutality: it has no human heart. It is the time for those of us who can to be heroes: to take up our swords and ride.

On the other, it is a time to survive. The winter is growing old, and if nothing else, the simple fact of lengthening days means that we are succeeding in meeting the challenge of Winter’s yearly Death.

It is a particularly cold and hostile one, and it will last at least four years. We must gather our loved ones close, draw about us the resources we cannot do without. We must hide if we are targeted and do not have what it takes to stand tall. We must make common cause so we cannot be easily disappeared. We must be heroes if we can, but more importantly, we must survive, for it is we who will tell the story of how we defeated fascism when it came to America. It is we who will be The Resistance.

It is we who will see the Spring come again. As Pagans, we must believe, despite what is before our eyes, that the bloom of life and love and kindness will come again, however dark the winter may get.

Some of us will not make it. Some will be martyrs. Some will be victims. As it has always been with winter, some simply will not hold out until Spring. Those of us who do not have privilege will be more at risk than those of us who do, and it is therefore even more our obligation to fight for our comrades who do not enjoy it.

But we are Atheopagans. We are clear-eyed in looking at the world. We do not kid ourselves. This is going to be hard, and there will be suffering.

But we will survive. Our values will survive.

Spring is coming. The cross-quarter Sabbath of the beginning of February, which I celebrate as Riverain, the Festival of Water, but many others call Imbolc or Brighid, is nearly upon us.

It is time to nurture the flame. To ready our tools. To plan our strategies. To envision what will grow in the coming season.

To take oaths of service to what we love.

Each of us will do so in their own way. And ours is not to judge how another chooses to proceed.

But each of us can swear to fight as we can. Each of us can commit to something that contributes to the return of Spring.

If you are coming to Pantheacon, I invite you to join us for the Earth Devotional ritual on Saturday night. It will provide you an opportunity to swear an oath to the Earth—to solemnly, formally join The Resistance with love, determination and Will.

If not, perhaps this can be a part of your Sabbath rites this Imbolc.

Because we need you.

Planet Earth itself, and so many of her vulnerable humans, needs you now.

Photo credit: Susan Seasons

Yule: The Light in the Darkness

It’s a very dark one this year. And, as for our ancestors, it promises to become darker and colder still in January, after the celebrating is long over.

Our Sabbaths are rich with meaning. And sometimes that meaning persists beyond a season.

We are about to go through a very, very dark time. Some of our beloveds will not survive it. And though we must fight to defend every square inch of sacred ground that progress has attained, much we love will be lost.

It’s going to be Yule for a long time.

We must be the light in the darkness now. We much gather with those we love and find cause for laughter and love and joy despite the bitterness outside our walls. We must band together when the cold threatens our fellows, and provide them help and nourishment and shelter when they need it. And to toast the ones who don’t make it, and redouble our efforts in their names.

We must be the spirit of generosity when the weather is cruel and indifferent. We must live in hope, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

The spirit of the Yule season is in some ways one of blithe denial: we sing and celebrate as our food stores dwindle, as the light dims to an ember, as we contemplate yet colder days to come. There is a sort of happy madness to it. Even sad memory of what has passed into history is limned with a sort of rosy glow, a fondness.

We need some of that madness now. It may seem the height of folly to hold out hope and commitment to progressive values in the face of the coming storm, but hold them we must.

Yule says, It’s not over. Even at the very moment when it appears that it may be.

Let us carry the evergreen in our hearts as the coming years unfold. Let us keep the flame of the Yule log akindle within us.

Let us be the People of the Returning Light, knowing that however bad it gets, they cannot kill every seed that waits in the soil, every heart burning for justice.

They cannot defeat us unless we let ourselves be defeated. Here, at the moment on the Wheel when we draw near to those we love to stave off the grim reality of winter, let us take this season more deeply into us, as we will be needing Yule not only in December, but throughout the coming years.

Let us never doubt that the Light will return. Et in terra pax hominibus.