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.

 

Mulled Wine

It begins where the smoke hits your eyes: smouldering peat,
Mutton stew on a broad iron hook,
Deep snow. How can it ever have been summer?
Apples wrinkling and mice in the barley—
With so much to fear, thank the gods for company!
We’ll tell our tales, remember how we passed the cold
Last year, and that before. And those who couldn’t.

The grape leans across
The seasons, clasps the hand of summer’s
Dried rind, dreaming the new fruit,
Calling the sun back,
World without end amen.

                                           —Mark Green