A different way of looking at darkness


Fall is my favorite season. It’s that moment when nature celebrates her incredible achievements with color, texture, and fragrance. The days are shorter, cooler, and less intense. It’s the moment where Mother Nature announces her intent to take a break after a summer full of production and growth.

For those of us who follow the Julian calendar, this time of year marks the end of our calendar year.  While fall is for many of us a time of restarting – school, work projects, returning from vacations, it isn’t our new year. That will come later. Our dates are somewhat arbitrary, as timekeeping tools often are. They reflect the beliefs and understanding of the people who invented them.

In the Celtic tradition, the holiday of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in) marks the new year. This holiday is celebrated on November 1 on our Julian calendar. There’s a great deal of spiritual meaning associated with this date and I’d love if you’d go learn more about it.

What I love about this concept of the new year starting in November is the way it shapes the relationship between dark and light. (read more on my blog)

Our western culture tends to associate death with darkness and life with lightness. It flows through our metaphors, our language, our celebrations, and our moods. It’s the way we’ve always thought of the great circle of life. We consider darkness to be empty, void, cold.

The Celts, however, consider darkness to be the creator of light. It is in the womb of darkness that life begins. It is in the dark nights and cold days of winter that plants prepare for sprouting. It is in the darkest moments of our thinking that the inspiration of light springs forth. Darkness is not empty, but full of potential.

Darkness represents the transformation, the catalyst shifting what is into what will be.

To move the new year to November 1 changes nothing about the passing of seasons, the shifting from harvest to rest. Those things still come to pass as they always have. After all, we use many different calendars and still manage to keep up. There’s fiscal year calendars, school year calendars, and lunar calendars that we can follow and not get too confused.

Something more powerful happens when you shift your new year celebration to the deepening of the darkness. Nov 1 is about halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. The days are getting shorter and colder. The natural world is preparing for the winter. It is here that we truly enter into the cold and darkness associated with the winter season. It is welcoming in the darkness of the months to come. 

By making this shift, we accept the darkness and declare that darkness is not to be feared, avoided, or shunned.

Photo by  Daniel Weiss  on  Unsplash

Photo by Daniel Weiss on Unsplash

Darkness represents the nurturing of your current situation to your next stage of being. It is the birthing of your ideas, your beliefs, your relationships, and your spirituality. Darkness is the incubator. Darkness is the sacred beginning.

I find that shifting my beliefs about darkness was very empowering. Darkness happens to us all at one time or another. We run from it, avoid it, and fear it. Instead of seeing that darkness as the end, how does your outlook change if darkness becomes the beginning?