Well, Yule is well and truly gone.

Gone the tree, with all its treasures.

Gone the green: the mistletoe, the holly, the ivy.

All is stripped away now, burned away to ash.

What remains, essential, is the seed, the core, the center.

Fire: the pure, pure flame.

Now the midpoint. Now the halfway. Now the now.

Old Lady Winter becomes Winter Maiden.

Time to clean.

Time to take stock.

Time to plan.

Let the bonfires blaze. Let the hearth fires shine. Let the candles gleam in every window.

Now the sleepers stretch and yawn.

Now the Bears dance their shuffling dance.

Now the Goat Men leap and flog.

Now the kindling. Now the quickening. Now the pulsing.

Now.