The chief problem with Nature Religions is: Nature. I can't remember even once, since I began practicing magic with my wonderful circle of witchy women, when Nature has stopped us from being outside -- either at a wooded lakefront, or in my oak grove backyard, or on Capitol Hill, in the v shadow of power -- and banging drums, blowing whistles, beating pots, and shaking tambourines to wake up the sleepy Sun after the longest night of the year. But this year, when we've some, er, special magic planned for the, er, v powerful, the weather is threatening to keep old witches w broken ankles confined. I'll be spending some time this evening trying to push back the sleet.
Someone, and I apologize for forgetting who, once said that people are fearful of witches because witches aren't afraid of the Dark. I'm not sure if that's true; there are times in my life when the Dark has terrified me, but that's also true for me vis a vis the Light. What I do know about the Dark is that it's mostly comforting to me, these days. A lovely witch once asked me which room in my home was the darkest. Unless I go down into the basement, my guest room, tucked into the oak grove in my back yard and away from the street lights, is the darkest room in my home. If it weren't so much smaller than the master bedroom, I'd have picked that room for my bedroom, for that reason alone. As it is, I walk into the room two or three times an evening and just stand there, absorbing the comforting Dark. Scientists think that sleeping in deep Dark may help to prevent breast cancer; our attempts to light up the Dark have had so many pernicious effects, in addition to making it impossible to see the Milky Way, which, honestly, we were meant to see almost every night. I love the fogs we've been having for the same reason that I love the Dark: comfort. With only a small bit of practice, you can wrap the Dark around you the way that you can wrap fog around you, like a comforting cloak with a magical buckle on the front.
I wrapped up in my blue wool cloak yesterday morning and walked out barefoot in the fog and there were daffodil sprouts coming up out of the deep brown Earth, saying, "We love the Dark, the Dark underneath the ground, the deep Dark of winter. We'll see you soon when the days get long enough to warm the ground." And my hellebore, known as the Advent Rose, would be about to bloom, had Landscape Guy and I not transplanted it this year. It may bloom, yet.
My wonderful circle of magical women -- old, young, sexual, pregnant, menopausal, living with husbands, leaving husbands, leaving jobs, nurturing children, nurturing grandchildren, nurturing news agencies, nurturing federal agencies, nurturing film companies, nurturing non-profits, nurturing aged mothers-in-law, competing internationally in bridge, blogging, learning witchcraft, becoming political, rejuvinating after an annus horribilis, becoming devotees of specific Goddesses, learning to lead ritual -- will gather to celebrate the longest night, to appreciate how long the Dark can last when the Dark sets its mind to lasting. We'll eat, do magic, dance, read tarot, exchange small gifts, dance, tell secrets, dance, tell the truth, dance, sleep, and wake up to drink magically-prepared liqueur from shot glasses made of ice (I know some one's going to ask: Here), do magic to protect women's rights, and go eat brunch. (What? You didn't think witches eat brunch? We invented second breakfast.) And I will know, once again, that I am blessed beyond anything that I ever deserved, blessed to live within this college of priestesses.
And so, on into the growing Light. I think that we can do this. Bhride, wait for me on the other side. Witches are also not too terribly afraid of the Light.
May the Darkness bless you, bless yours, and bring you Her Dark Gifts.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."