There is no set date, no temperature, nor is there a light level at which nature in the Northern hemisphere agrees on spring having arrived. It doesn’t help that freak storms and late frosts are always an option. Do you start early and hope to get ahead or hang on a bit longer in the hopes your precious eggs and shoots aren’t frosted to death?
Tree by tree, bird by bird, each individual makes their own choice about when to push forward into this new cycle of living. The choice to live is the risk of death and failure. At this time of year, there is nothing else. Living is a risky business, but wait too long and the opportunity passes, it is summer already and you have nothing to hatch.
The last holiday of the Vanic year (as the Vanic new year is the spring equinox) is called Rasthuas Ja'enladata (RAHS-thoo-ahs JIGH-en-lah-dah-tah) [in Eshnesk, the language of the Eshnahai, or citizens of Vanaheim) - translated as Lights of the Winter Storm, observed in early February, where lights are burned through the worst winter storms of the year as a reminder that soon the spring will come. This is the holiday where the Queen's half of the year and time of influence begins, power rising again in anticipation of the spring.
The Queen arrives at the ritual site at the capital, wearing a crown with unlit candles. A representative from each of the twenty-four tribes wields a wand and draws down light from the stars to light each candle. When all the candles are lit in the crown, the Queen lights a candle for each of the tribes to bless them, as the King dances around the Queen, spinning fire, a token of offering his power so that the Queen's power may rise. When all of the tribal candles are lit, the Queen removes the crown and places it on the snow, and the King and Queen mate ritually on the stone table in the sacred circle; the first sign of green growth appears, rising up in the circle of the crown, which will survive the rest of the cold season. The mating of the King and Queen empowers the candles with light and life and the gift of joy. When the mating is done, the tribal representatives take their candles and each tribal candle is used to light a candle for every individual within that tribe, so the Queen's light is given to all of Vanaheim and the land can begin to thaw from the winter and people's spirits can be lifted in hope.
Celebrating the turnings of the Wheel of the Year encourage us to meditate on the cycles of life. This year celebrating the Winter Solstice has proven is harder for me to enterwholeheartedly than often in the past. At the Solstice we celebrate light’s return, and with it the rebirth of life from the mystery of death. This year perhaps it is fitting that it falls on the dark of the moon.Yule honors the return of light while I am living in a society where the lights seem to be going out.
Ultimately my post will be positive, very much so.But let us not pretend it is easy to see any growing light beyond that of the sun itself.
We humans have a deep, innate fear of the dark. We tend to feel more comfortable in the bright light of day that transparently reveals that which is around us, allowing us to assess and respond to people, situations, and things. There is something about the dark which adds the element of the ominous or disturbing. A screen door banging open repeatedly in daylight is a bother, needing to be closed tight lest the bugs get into the house. A screen door banging open repeatedly in the dead of night can leave us with our hearts banging out the same rhythm in our throats, tentatively tiptoeing towards it and taking deep, relieved breaths once it is safely closed and locked.
“Pride cometh before the fall” is a message I recall hearing many times as a child. The warning that, though there was the expectation that I would always do my best, it was not appropriate to express the positive glow of success and accomplishment. If one did not self-monitor humility, one faced the very real possibility of being “brought back down to size”. Messages that urge us to be humble, to keep quiet, to deflect compliments away are fairly strong. Having internalized these messages, there can definitely be a waft of distaste when we encounter boasting. We feel the wave of Ego come towards us and instinctively step back.