Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Dark of the Year: In Praise of Present (Part 2)

Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3

During this time of year, the dark of the year, we as Pagans have a fairly unique opportunity within our spiritual wheel of the year. We have the opportunity to grow, spiritually, internally, rather than externally. The Wheel of the Year shows us how to use the energy of Nature to develop in a healthy cycle.

The Dark of the Year is the time of introverts, when humanity as a whole goes from exuberant, exo-energetic creatures to inner-focused beings who welcome the dark and calm of semi-hibernation. We don’t sleep the season away like the bear, but rather we enjoy a certain lethargy of the body, which allows us to grow our mental and emotional selves. We embrace the Yin in the world, the Feminine in ourselves, the dark/cold/wet/gestational parts of Nature.

In animals, a “false” hibernation is often called torpor or languor. I, for one, like “languor,” or “languid.” The word (words are power, remember) calls up in my mind an image of sensuality, of liquid, passive, flowing, small movements. Isn’t that what we crave during the Dark of the Year? Lying in bed, snuggling with family and blankets, lounging around the home with warm, liquid foods and drinks. Celebrating life and survival while death (dark, cold, wet weather) prowls around the periphery.

Death and gestation are two faces of the same coin. They bracket life like not-quite-identical bookends, giving us the time of dark and wet and quiet before we start going, going, going as life demands far too often. The season of winter, the Dark of the Year, allows us to pause in this rat-race of work and family and action, action, action. Winter is a small death that gives us a moment to breath, mentally and emotionally.

So how do we take advantage of this time when we can get back in touch with ourselves and those closest to us during the major holidays of the season of the Holly King?

Many Pagans (and Christians, for that matter) do not consider Thanksgiving to be a holy day. But a holiday (holy day) it is.

I would argue that Thanksgiving is the natural extension of Samhain. After celebrating the time of Death and what has passed, we move on to appreciation for what we still have. We gather with friends, family and food to embrace our emotional and physical wealth. We gather in groups to pool our resources, reveling in the duel affluence of luxurious, sensual foods and the emotional plenty of friends and family to share it.

What better follow-up for the Death of the Active Year then to celebrate those who we want to be languid around?

Of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without the sensual experience of those treasured, beloved foods shared with all, and the languid aftermath of the feasting, when everyone sits around and indulges in some light conversation or gossip, or enjoying games that don’t get played during those times when we are all too busy being active.

I think that a lot of people make a mistake during Thanksgiving. They forget the purpose of celebration. This is not the time for taking up the responsibility of supplying everything; it is the time of pooling resources. It is not meant to be spent among those who bring out negative emotions; it is a celebration of gratitude and love. Pressure to be perfect has become part and parcel of the holiday season, but allowing that pressure to choose who and how you participate is still a choice. Choose to make it the celebration it should be.

Many blessings during your Languor in the Dark of the Year!

Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3


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