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Postponing the Return of the Light

I'm simply not ready for the dark to be over. So I've decided to put off welcoming the Sun back until a few days before Imbolc.

If then.

I've written here before on the importance of diving into the deep darkness at this most appropriate seasonal time. Go to your Ancestors, I've solemnly intoned. Listen to their soft voices, their wise counsel. Don't fear the deep work of the Dark Goddesses.  Embrace it. Find out what you're made of. Test your mettle.

Well, I ain't finished doing that yet, so I'm staying here in the dark a bit longer. So there.  Maybe I'll venture out around Burns' Night. And maybe I won't.

Several years ago I wrote a little essay on how best to survive these challenging times, this Tower Time. I encouraged all of us to go into our warm burrows, like furry creatures in winter.  Lick our wounds, be safe, rest, heal.

I'm still saying that, my friends.  Only I am saying we need to do it longer.  Whether or not you practice some form of Christianity or spend days during this sacred season with your Christian birth family, you are still bashed over the head with the comings and goings that are a huge part of the winter holiday season.  We Pagans endure it as best we can. We celebrate the Solstice as Sol Invictus or Saturnalia or Alban Anthuan, and we turn the Wheel and the Sun returns.

And we start the whole thing over again.

Nature and many of our traditions have given us this period of rest, healing and reflection before we start busting our hump in the new agricultural cycle. Because of the lunacy of the dominant culture, we rarely get to use it for what it's intended.  We soldier on and...not enough rest, healing, reflection.

It's one of the lovely things about Wicca and other modern Pagan traditions--we are given these natural and sacred segments of the year, these quarter-times.  There's one to plant, one to tend, one for harvest and one  For lying fallow, for renewing our personal and community vigor. Because of the aforementioned Trauma of Christmas in America, we mostly lose that last quarter to busy-ness and triggering situations that deplete us further.

So, friends, I'm taking another 5 weeks off from the glare of the Undying Sun. I'm going to stay in my mole hole and drink warm tea and eat soup and write bad poetry. And when I'm ready--like Punxatawny Phil--I will emerge and begin again to honor All That Is. I will dance the ring and scheme the garden and drink the recently-bottled cider.

I'm making apple butter as I'm typing and there's a cuppa nettle tea steeping on the counter. Stay warm, littles. Deep sleep and dreams of glory!

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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


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