Yule, the Winter Solstice, is a powerful time to access the light that shines within. While we enter the coldest season in the Northern Hemisphere, we burn with the anticipation and promise of warmer days. This optimism and hope carry us through the darkness and bitter chills of winter. In December, while the days are growing shorter, we prepare to welcome back the light because this is the season of the Sun God, and at Yule, we celebrate his birth. The long nights leading up to Yule have created plenty of space for rest, reflection, integration, and silence. This time of personal excavation can feel lonely and frightening – but if these past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t build ourselves (and our world) anew without some internal and external systems breaking down. I wrote this blog, The Promise of Yule, to comfort you in the knowledge that hope prevails and light always returns. But first, you must wander through the darkness and greet it as a friend.
At Yule, we find ourselves in the depths of darkness we feared most at Samhain. Once the ancestors leave us, in early November, they let go of our hands and we begin the great descent to the dark places without a guide. Or so we think. Within this darkness, we find our deepest purpose. Without a compass, we find the True Path. But we have to engage our senses and learn to listen to the voice of our intuition. Think of a small child who ventures out for the first time without a parent. This process, of finding your own way, is necessary for personal and spiritual development. If someone is always there to save you, you never learn to save yourself.
I imagine the ancestors gathering around us at Yule in a giant circle of light, watching us navigate these dark places, beaming with pride as they see us take our first footsteps without our fathers’ and mothers’ direction. They came at Samhain as wisdom keepers, channels of the Divine Messages that guide us now at Yule. Did we hear them well? Did we listen and receive? Or did we ignore, and now find ourselves unable to connect to that wisdom as easily? Did we turn away from that wisdom, insisting we can do it all ourselves?
The promise of Yule reminds us that we do nothing alone; we are the Oneness of all creation. For many, this awareness is aligned with Christ Consciousness at Christmas, the birth of Christ. Even if this is not a tradition you honor or recognize, bear in mind that all traditions are in fact your traditions. All across the globe, people have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for centuries, whether it was the hedonistic revelry of Saturnalia in ancient Rome, the Dōngzhì Festivals of China, Japan, and Korea, or the pre-Christian Feast of Juul in Scandinavia. It’s been an important time to gather together, celebrate the gift of light in our lives, and reinvigorate our hopes for the future.
I say this because all of these traditions come from One Tradition, in which light returns after an extended period of intended darkness as a way of rebirthing you through the canal of time. Whatever you call this time, and however you name this light, it is the same. You are the same. We are the same.
Oh yes, you are shoulder-deep in the mystery now, and you alone will find your way back to the waking realms that bring longer days and shorter nights. Then comes Imbolc when life returns to the North, and embryos burrow into the wombs of all creatures. The Sun God is born first so that the rest of us have light by which to conceive our own children, our own creations, our own rebirths. The gods always go first, so that we may follow their lead.
How will you acknowledge this darkness? In alchemy, this darkness is the prima materia, the primal form out of which alchemical gold – the philosopher’s stone – emerges. You must traverse the darkness to find the light. Consider The Hermit from the major arcana of the tarot your guide during this process. Holding out his single lantern, he lights the way home for us all. If you are a spiritual teacher of any kind, the universe has called upon you to be the Hermit – not as a form of retreat, but as a form of surrender and exploration. If you want fast, easy answers, you won’t find them here. But fast and easy is not what you are after, I suspect. That’s good: It means you are ready for what is next. The Mystery reveals itself to those who seek it.
May the magic of this season, the consciousness of light and unity, be with you. May you embody it and may it live within you. And may you mirror it in your thoughts and actions. Amen, A’ho, and So it is.
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