The shortest day. The longest night. We sit, in this northern realm of the Earth, in darkness. And we await the return of the Light. There are gifts to be found in this darkness. May you find peace. May you find the Light…within and without. Beannacht. Blessings.
I’ve encountered this blessing many times and it so resonates. In this season and all seasons. As such blessings are passed down through the generations the words are often shape shifted through oral traditions and the origins get lost in the mists of time. It turns out this blessing was written in 1895 by faery woman Fiona Macleod. Her original version is much longer and most of it follows below. Yet the essence of it survives and still stirs the soul.
Deep peace I breathe into you.
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you,
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you,
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you,
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you,
Deep peace, dark wind of the north to you,
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you,
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you,
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you,
Deep peace, pure brown of the earth to you,
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you,
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you!
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to you,
Deep peace from the Son of Peace to you,
Deep peace from the Heart of Mary to you,
From Brigid of the Mantle,
Deep peace, deep peace!
And by the will of the King of the Elements,
Believe. Along with magic, it’s a word that is very much part of the vernacular of this season. For many it’s all about flying reindeer and red-garbed individuals who leave presents. For others there are vague references to believing in the spirit of this season. For our ancestors there was nothing vague about it. Animals could shape shift and fly. Magic was a truth. And beyond wistful belief there was a certainty of knowing that Spirit and spirits are real. How things have changed as Fiona Macleod observed and chronicled in the late 1890s.
“In the maelstrom of the cities, the old race perishes, drowns. How common the foolish utterance of narrow lives, that all these old ways of thought are superstitious. To have a superstition is, for these, a worse ill than to have a shrunken soul. I do not believe in spells and charms and foolish incantations, but I think that ancient wisdom out of the simple and primitive heart of an older time is not an ill heritage; and if to believe in the power of the spirit is to be superstitious, I am well content to be of the company that is now forsaken.” Fiona Macleod
Fiona, woman of the faery realms, I cast my lot with you. Well content to be of the company that is much forsaken. At the same time I am heartened that these words of believe and magic still live in this sacred season. And hopeful they will continue to touch and inspire people with their power and possibility. Inspire: to inflame, to breathe into, to fill. May we open to, breathe deeply, and be filled by the light of this and all seasons. May we rekindle the flame of magic. May we believe. May we know!
When we see ourselves woven in a universal fabric with all life, the wisdom pours in from so many sources. Nature with her seasons and cycles is a magnificent teacher. And so is the Sun.
So many people from so many spiritual traditions and cultures are celebrating this season of light. Geographically we are spread across the northern hemisphere and around the world yet in these celebrations we are all standing in the same place. Unified by our divine nature. Unified by these moments of deep knowing that a universal and sacred presence is in and with all of us. Woven together with this sacred common-unity we become one global community. With each other and with all life.
Fiona Macleod inspired these words in the late 1890s. A woman of the faery realm she worked with and through Scottish author William Sharp who penned her words. Her writings remind us of this sacred unity…and that this knowing transcends time and our constructs of reality.
Somewhere under all these lights there is a house. And somewhere buried under all the strings of bulbs that come out of their boxes at this time of year to adorn homes and trees and shopping malls there is an acknowledgment of this season of light. But a cacophony of blinking bulbs is is not the reason for this season.
From our many cultures and spiritual traditions we have inherited a rich tradition of light festivals. And the light they celebrate is sacred. It is the light of peace and joy. It is the light of hope and renewal. It is the light that shines from our divine nature. It is the light so needed in our lives and our world.
In this season of darkness unplug for a moment and breathe deeply with this rich tradition. Let there be light, your light. And let it shine!