Dark Night of the Year

November 24th, 2007

This time of year, between Samhain and Yule, is a difficult time. It is a time when most plants (at least in the north) have died, animals are hunkering down for winter, and the universe looks inward. It is the dark night of the year.

Many Wiccans see Samhain as the New Year, when the old year ends and the new year begins. On the contrary, I’ve found that Samhain is only the end of the old year. It corresponds to the final waning crescent phase of the moon. It is not the beginning of the new year, because that happens at Yule, when the sun is reborn.

The time between these holidays corresponds to the dark moon phase, when there is no light to be seen, but instead the power of the unseen is felt.

Many feel a sense of depression during this time, commonly medicalized these days as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sufferers are told to sit in bright artificial light to fool the body into thinking it is a brighter time of year. The problem with this is that it denies the nature of this energy, instead of embracing and using it.

One way to think of it is to see the energy of the earth moving retrograde, as other planets do. Things are turned on their head and become confusing. In tarot, it corresponds to the High Priestess and the Hanged Man.

As a result, this is more of a good time to finish what you can and not start new things until Yule. It is a time to reflect upon the year that finished at Samhain. What did you accomplish? Did you keep your Yule resolutions? If not, what can you do better next year? If so, what should you do next year to move further? We all need this time of quiet reflection to see where we are in our path and look ahead.

Looking back on our actions from the last year (or longer) is difficult. The skeletons we hid in the closet come out in the dark. Those things we try to forget in our everyday busyness work their way back into our consciousness. I think this is the true reason for the higher rates of depression felt now.

The important thing to remember is that this time is a blessing from the Gods. If They didn’t provide this energy, we would not be able to look back, take a deep breath and prepare to grow in the next year. It is a big challenge, but remember, the promise of the reborn sun (or reborn Son, as the Christians think of it) is shining in our hearts if we let it. Yule will come, the wheel will turn and the energy of the earth will flow forward again.

Do you do anything particular to cope during the Dark Night? If so, please share a comment.

4 Responses to “Dark Night of the Year”

  1. Cosette Says:

    I completely agree. I do not see Samhain as the beginning of the new year, but the end. I see Yule as a beginning and this period in between as a dark time of rest and introspection.

    The climate isn’t that different here in South Florida; it’s still bright and warm (although not scorching like the summer). But there is a different energy. I don’t get depressed, but I also enjoy the high energy of the secular holidays, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about the year, what I accomplished, what I didn’t, and considering new projects.

  2. Morninghawk Says:

    I’ve never been to the southern states in the winter, so it’s interesting to hear that the energy changes similar to the way it does in the north, even without the snow.


  3. Livia Says:

    I like your idea of thinking of this time of year as Earth in retrograde, it puts things into perspective. When it gets cold we bring out plants inside to live under the grow lights for the winter. Whenever I get too cold or too whatever I go sit in the plant/craft room and let the plant energies and creative juices flow.

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    That’s an interesting way to handle the difficulty of this time of year. I’m sure it is better than sitting next to a bright light given to SAD sufferers. The plants would help give you some good energy.

    Thanks for the comment.

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