Into the darkness

Grimston’s Oak, a roughly 350 year old tree with a wonderfully kvlt AF name, Epping Forest.

As my awesome yoga instructor Kamellia explained in class this week, this past Wednesday into Thursday was Samhain (pronounced “sauin,” more or less), the annual Gaelic festival marking the onset of the season of darkness.

I’m not sure if such an observance can ever fully resonate for anyone who doesn’t live close to the land and its rhythms, but city kid that I am, I sure did feel the turn this year — feel it, and rush forward into its embrace. In fact I’m finding nothing nearly so comfortable lately as darkness, its sensory equivalents silence and stillness, and above all solitude. I’m not unaware that being able to access these qualities at will pretty much defines privilege, of course. But long walks alone in the gloaming feel like a powerful specific for the dis-ease of life in 2018, something blessedly orthogonal to all the fear, hatred and endemic bullshit of our days.

This has been true for me, anyway; as ever, your mileage may vary. However the darkness happens to find you this year, may you know the deep still peace at its heart, and in that peace take the strength to return to the world renewed.

One response to “Into the darkness”

  1. August C. Bourré (@FishSauce) says :

    I often experience something similar this time of year, although not identical, and probably for different reasons. I am a Northerner, both in terms of my ethnic origins and the place where I was raised, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in the far south of my country where the heat and the humidity, while not extreme by any global scale, can be unbearable for me (I headed south because I hate the cold, but it seems to be a part of me in a way that I can’t escape). In the south, Fall is very nearly the only time of year I feel comfortable in my own skin. I can move around without sweating through my shirt, and I’m able to hold off on putting on bulky winter clothes for significantly longer than the locals. I can just be me, comfortably. So many of my best relationships have begun this time of year. Friendships, romances.

    This time of year is important to Northerners, too, because it signals the return of water. Summer is fire season where I’m from; the weather isn’t hot, but it’s very dry, and forests will burn uncontrollably if they don’t have enough water, taking our communities with them. Water in the north doesn’t come from the rain, it comes from the snow. Fall does not signal a die-off to us (most of our trees are evergreen anyway), but the return of water, the time when nature stockpiles the resource that not only keeps the forest alive through the burning season, but keeps those communities that depend on it alive, too.

    The darkness, the snow, the stillness: these are the things that non-northerners see as the source of the north’s hardships, but without those things nothing in the north could survive at all. To turn a phrase on its head: in the midst of death, we are in life.

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