The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.
– Joseph Campbell, The Journey Inward: The Power of Myth
The Winter Solstice and the December New Moon are conspiring today to create the longest, darkest night of the year.
It was a year ago to the day that I wrote the first post of this blog, The Great White Winter. As I explained in Chasing the Light, I did not know what form it would become. I simply felt impelled to write. It was a crisis moment in my life, a moment of in-betweenness. I was in a gap. And I find myself there again.
Tonight I am much more conscious than last year of what it is I am doing here. But life is still a mystery, as it always should be. I have come to another crossroads, a moment of transformation. Perhaps it is my fate to re-enact this every year at this time. Perhaps it is all humanity’s fate, it is encoded in our collective consciousness, to burrow deep inside at the darkest time of the year, bundled up, provisions laid down. It is not just our physical form that burrows, but our minds and hearts as well. We look inward to see if we can find enough light there to get us through the Longest Night.
For millenia humans have built altars to align with the light of this day. Festivals of great significance are enacted the world over at this time. My favourite aspect of these festivals is not the celebration of returning light, but the turning-upside-downness of society and the willing participation of all to observe it. In ancient Rome during the festival of Saturnalia, slaves became masters and masters became slaves. In medieval Europe, the Boy Bishops of universities and cathedrals continued this tradition. Weak became strong, small became large, powerless became powerful, and vice versa. Of course, for only a brief time. Then the world is turned right side up once more, as the sun strengthens in the sky each day, reasserting the order of normal life.
This dark time is a time of reflection, of turning inward. The past two months I have been caught up in the world outside. I had work to do, important work. I finished a giant task, I took on new ones, I found myself in situations I never could have anticipated. In the aftermath, there are painful truths to face and difficult lessons to learn. And here I find myself on the Longest Night. Life feels topsy-turvy and uncertain. Last year, I could not see the light coming. This year I am wiser. I know it will come, that there will be a bright dawn after this dark night. That things will make sense in time, that I will have come out of it stronger than before. I must trust this to see me through. In the darkness creativity incubates, waiting for the first ray of dawn to coax it forth.