Step, by step, by step
As humans, who are but creatures entwined and enmeshed in the web of creation that is the natural world, we cyclically descend into darkness as well.
Descents into darkness are terrifying. They are everything that the twinkling, light-filled, brightness of the positivity-movement is not. They are notable, because it feels as if the fire has gone out. The sun has died. The darkness continues to grow, it seems there is no room for light. The spark of hope that we carry within our bones has been suffocated. And, without that spark of hope, we die.
Settle your bones into the cave of darkness.
Sit, curled inside the great womb
Listen to the sounds of your own breath.
In. Out. In.
It is here that we can practice surrender. In the dark, there is nothing that can be done, except to be. Only when buried in the dark, can the seed of possibility germinate. It is only when we surrender the possibility of ever surviving the darkness, it is only when the darkness has become as dark as it can get, that we are able to see the spark of light. Light needs darkness to shine. Rest in surrender to the Great Cycle, the Eternally Turning Wheel.
Light, Dark, Light
Hope, Despair, Hope
Peace, Anguish, Peace
Life, Death, Life
Sometimes, our descent into darkness is short lived. Other times, it seems that eternities have passed and still, we see no light. There is no set time-frame for darkness. We wait, knowing the light will appear. When we see the spark, we can begin to nurture it. We can stoke it, and protect it. We can add fuel so that the spark becomes a brilliant, radiant fire. And it is this fire, this hope, that we carry with us as we emerge from the dark. It is this fire that we can hold up to illuminate the lives of others.
As December begins, contemplate the darkness. Accept it. Welcome its transformative presence. There is much darkness in our world at present. Rituals can help us usher in the process of transformation. A ritual that can be performed nightly as we lead up to the winter solstice is to:
- Come before an unlit candle each evening or morning in a dark space.
- Before lighting the candle, allow yourself to sit and be inside of the darkness of the room.
- While here, think of a situation that you want to illuminate and bring hope to. It could be anything. A person (even yourself!), a place, or an event that needs healing, hope and light.
- And then light the candle. Allow it to illuminate the darkness of the room. Imagine the warmth and light reaching out and illuminating the circumstance that you have chosen.
- You can leave the candle burning for a set amount of time before extinguishing it. Alternatively, you can light a stick of incense with the same intent and let it burn down. You can perform this ritual each evening in December (or early in the morning), or you can choose one day a week to do it on.
The light always returns.
Peace is restored.
The sun is resurrected
We are never left in the dark.
As we move through December, we will be examining several of the many, many myths that carry the theme of descent into darkness, and rising into the light.
Source: Advent to the Solstice: A Ritual