It's a blanket, the deep, early darkness of this time of year. Here we are, just days, really just hours, away from the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and I am wrapping all of this darkness around my shoulders like a big, warm cape. I've been sitting zazen at my altar early and going to bed early, dreaming really significant dreams.
Maybe it's the warm weather that has me loving these weeks so much. Today it was in the upper sixties and, when the lawn crew came to mulch my beds, you could smell the heady scent of mulch from my screen porch -- where I ate breakfast and lunch. Yesterday, I worked in the yard all day in a t-shirt, happy for the extra yard time, telling myself that I'll wait for a cold, rainy day in January to go into the garden shed and "organize." I've decided that the shed, here when I moved in, is one of the things that will have to change the most in order for me to have the garden that I really want. What fool thought that barn-style doors, reminiscent of a stable, would fit in this tiny yard? I want a hobbit hut, a fairy cottage, something much more fey than what I have just now.
On the one hand, it alarms me, this warm weather at Solstice time. And, on the other hand, maybe it's the "new normal." Maybe the daffodils and irises that have pushed up from the ground will die in a cold, February frost. Or maybe they'll bloom in February. I don't know; I am going to find out. I still have green herbs in the herb bed -- sage and parsley and rosemary and rosehips -- that I'm going to pick for my xmas hostess. I once saw the cherry blossoms bloom on a full moon in mid-March across the pool from the Jefferson Memorial. It was one of THE most magical nights in my life, a life that, for whatever else has been wrong with it, has been blessed by magical night after magical night.
I won't hate the warming planet. I won't cry over the lost plants. I will love this Earth in whatever stage she finds herself, however she changes, whatever she does to try and balance things out. Last night I sat at my altar and charged Yule gifts for the women in my circle. The chant that I used is, by now, an old one: "She changes everything that she touches and everything that she touches changes." The climate is changing. In the words of the song, "Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life? Well, I've been afraid of changing 'cause I've built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, even children get older. And I'm getting older too."
Looking at these warm December days, at the plants that have pushed above the ground "too early," at the predictions for climate change on a scale no human has ever seen, not even our Ice Age ancestresses, I'm reminded of a wonderful story that I read when I had breast cancer. The story was about a gay man, dying of AIDS. His friends kept exhorting him to fight, to, in Dylan's words, "rage, rage against the dying of the light." He asked them to stop. He said, "Please. Don't force me to make an enemy of my own death." That sentence changed my life. I plan to make an ally, a friend, a teacher, a gift of my own death. Perhaps Mamma Earth is doing the same. If she's that brave, then, damn it, I will have to be that brave, will have to match her gift of bravery with my own.
Someone, and I forget now who, said that a witch's job is to help to turn the wheel, meaning the wheel of the year. It's my job to help to turn the wheel in these days, not in the colder days of my many-times-great grandmothers in Sweden and the land of the Picts. Here. Now. These warming times on this easternmost coast of North America, under these oak trees, on this acidic soil, near this live spring, on this ground spongy with water. I'll have to figure out how to celebrate the longest night when it's warm, how to drink strong drink from cups made of ice on a morning when it's not as cold as it used to be, even four or five years ago when i first began to wake at dawn with these women and feed the birds, harbringers of the powers of the East, while making noise to wake up the sun. I think that I can do it, that I can rise to the witching challenge of these times, that I can sail through these changing ocean tides, that I can handle the over-warm seasons of MY life.
I adore THIS Earth, even more than some idealized Earth of my ancestors. I am alive on THIS Earth, the one being warmed too quickly and stripped too fast of trees, flora, fauna, clean air. The one where dams kill the salmon, where windmills kill the birds, where nuclear plants make poison that will last so long as to be forever, where we fire bullets made of spent nuclear material and turn children into new monsters in order to allow old men to make money. This is the Earth that I need to bless, to worship, to magic into being, to make ready for my grandson.
Welcome to the dark.