There are a lot of myths and legends and sacred or profane stories involved with this time of year. For instance, a bit of the sacred from Joseph Campbell, who was an expert in the influence of myths on our lives: "The night of December 25, to which date the Nativity of Christ was ultimately assigned, was exactly that of the birth of the Persian savior Mithra, who, as an incarnation of eternal light, was born the night of the winter solstice (then dated December 25) at midnight, the instant of the turn of the year from increasing darkness to light."
In the northern hemisphere, the farther north one is from the Equator, the shorter the opportunity to feel the sun on one's face. In other words: It's dark at 4:00 something PM where I live, and in modern times, when commuters hit the road way before the sunrise and return from work in the inky dark, it can be difficult to bear. So we modern folks get crackin' and get busy: stringing lights, flying around or browsing the 'net for the best holiday gift bargains, as well as over eating, over consuming, and over the top anything to stave off the dark.
Listen, I am not trying to emulate the mythic Grinch who stole Christmas: I love seeing the lights, and by the time actual Winter Solstice gets here on December 21, I am finally ready to sing along to holiday songs in the grocery store.
Yet, I also want to remember the true gift of this season: We can enter the darkness in order to better see our light. You light a candle at 4:00 PM on a summer day, and meh--the contrast just isn't there. But ah....candlelight in the dark: It is a magic thing--even if it's one small candle.
Our souls can claim the same, this season especially, but also even in the darkest of times globally and locally and personally--our light, if we believe it to be there, shines brighter than ever. This is what gives me hope right now: These days are looking bleak and sad: but what better time to beam a light from our souls than right now?
This winter solstice is on a new moon: doubling down the darkness of this long night. But guess what, in case you didn't know, it's not that the sun is far away from us on solstice. Nope. Solstice is due to the tilt of the earth's axis as it angles off the sun's light. But during this dark time, the sun is actually....drumroll please...closer to us. Yes. The light is there, its just not as noticeable.
So go ahead and notice the light. Know that darkness is not an enemy. It is a seasonal reminder to us all: Go inside for now, children. Go inside and see how your light shines.
Light and love,