A growing shadow is creeping across the face of humanity--a darkness unconfined by season, undeterred by reason. While it is simple to view the turmoil and bloodshed that envelopes our world as the byproduct of ignorance or politics that exist "out there," it is not. Like caring, chaos begins at home.
We flee the darkness, we turn off the television, we dissolve into daylight. Our attention shifts to items more prosaic, less stressful. Thomas Aquinas wrote "the reality of things is their light." Reality is defined by those things of which we choose to take notice, that we "illuminate." society worships bright Apollonian ideals--knowledge, supremacy, technology. Some willfully ignore the gathering darkness, instead finding justification in the apparently brilliant moral righteousness of their actions. Just as mortification results from enduring darkness, so barren desert results from the unending radiance of a light-polluted world.
The leaves of the great Tree of Life stretch heavenward toward light, energy and divinity while the root sinks deeply seeking nourishment, stability and mystery. Cut off from the root and its nourishment, intellect withers and looses its foundation. Rampant campaigns of ungrounded intellect allow spirit to run riot, balance is not possible. Below, deprived of light and orderly energy, the root turns on itself, unleashing decay and putrefaction on a world already under assault by untended intellect.
Too many cleave to the belief that light can drive out darkness, that divine sanction should hold darkness at bay. At winter Solstice, the bright Oak King, ruler of the waxing year slays the dark Holly King, ruler of the waning vegetative year. The Oak King, the sun deity, is born again, light returns to the world. But the story does not end there. At summer Solstice, the Holly King rightfully slays the Oak King as the fertile year begins to wane and return to ground.
The Oak and Holly Kings are brothers, twins, each what the other is not, but forever a part of one another. They represent light and mystery, one reaching, one descending. Together they embody the potential of life - the light that exists in the darkness and the darkness that must exist in the light. Mystery feeds intellect, intellect illuminates mystery - neither can exist without the other.
Do not turn away from the world, listen to the cries from the shadow. Let your tears soften the darkness with compassion. Compassion finds its home in mystery. Bring that compassion, that fundamental grounding, to the world of light. Act meaningfully in everything you do--be present during your day, not automatic, unconscious, accepting and ignoring.
In Nature’s arms, we are slowly turning toward the winter solstice on December 21 at 4:43 AM PST. In that moment the light will be born again to our world, let us always honour the darkness that brings it forth. Wishing you peace in this holiday season.