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I Sit Exhausted on This Longest Night

My big plan was to finish up some loose ends so that I could truly enjoy my first winter holiday season in town, not working retail. Daughter was coming home, holiday cards were mailed away...even the weather was nice.

Did your December deviate from the plan, too?  There have been unexpected rituals, several funerals, more than one friend or circle mate whose life took a turn for the...challenging.

We did manage a Witches Night Out a couple of weeks ago but that seems like it happened in another life. Oy vey, as they say.

Last night there was a vigil for the folks who died in Newtown, CT last week and tonight the interfaith group of which I am a part helped our local UU congregation with another candlelight vigil.

I am tired of crying, my eyes are itchy and red and I am using that stuff that "gets the red out." And there are still candies to make and gifts to wrap and irritating gruff people who push their way into the line at the post office.

And there are kind people who also have red eyes these days.  And there are people who come by the temple's food pantry in order to get a food box for a relative or neighbor who needs more than they have.

On Monday, I was honored to present an "Earth Sabbath" celebration at one of the local Episcopal churches. Earth Sabbaths are a program of the NC Interfaith Power and Light and different folks are asked to lead at different times.  My friend Penny (who works for our Jewish Community Center) and I did seasons of light and set up a bright Solstice altar in front of the church's main one.  We sang bright songs and rattled rattles...and wept again for the lost children and the state of the nation and the cracks in our own hearts.

The world here is loud and grief-filled and the energy is disruptive, chaotic. I find my ability to ground is compromised by the sheer number of requirements on my time and attention.  Which is not a valid excuse at all.  I am called to ground and focus, to put up shields when needed...and earplugs when the din is simply too much to bear.

It is the longest night of the year and there are rituals to create, ceremonies to attend..and perhaps a chance of joy in the morning. May the piece of the world that is your piece be warm and bright when the morning comes.  And may your heart be likewise.

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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,


  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance Friday, 21 December 2012

    I don't have any big words, just silent support from across the pond. You're in my thoughts and prayers, as is everyone else who has been affected by this tragedy.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Friday, 28 December 2012

    Thanks for that. Blessings to you!

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