As we enter this Christmas season, it is important to understand the origins of the celebrations that go on this time of year. It is not just about commercialism, and it is also not just about the birth of baby Jesus. It is, beneath all the other stuff, about the coming of the Light.
As the season changes at this Yule time, the light in the world increases, slowly but surely, bringing us longer days and shorter nights. The Ancients deified this with the legend of two brothers, Cernunos and Gwynupnud, the Oak King and the Holly King, who would fight twice a year for the hand of the Maiden (the Goddess). In June the Holly King would win the battle and the world would slowly become darker with shorter hours of daylight. In December, the Oak King would win the battle and the world would become brighter once again.
This is not just a metaphor for seasonal changes. It is also a metaphor for Hope. As the Light inspires us, we gain more hope. As the dark descends upon us, there is less hope. Neither one is actually good or bad. It is simply a changing of the seasons within. As we become familiar with our own inner darkness, it becomes as much of an allie as does our inner Light. The Darkness can be divine.
At this time of year, I very much appreciate the lights that are all around us. The lights on the Christmas trees, the lights on homes, the lights on the streets and in the department stores. It is beautiful and allows the long winter days to become more bearable. But none compare to the light in my daughters' eyes, or the light that is felt within in response to a warm caress. These are the things that truly bring hope to me.