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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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Close your eyes.

Breathe in. Hold. Release. Repeat.

And imagine this…

It is the darkest, longest night of the year. The air is bitterly cold and utterly still; the moisture in the air coalesces into frost, pooling in fog along the ground. This is the heart of the deepest woods- the trees, although leafless, obscure the sky. There is the faintest silver glimmer filtering through the bare branches- perhaps a waxing moon hangs somewhere above, or perhaps the light comes from somewhere else. It illumines a small clearing, rimmed with low stones, roofed with reaching limbs.

There is only silence, the profound quiet of the spaces between the stars, between breaths, between heartbeats. Then, sliding almost subliminally into the waiting night, comes the faintest sound. A slow, melancholy, eerie piping winds into your senses, the rising and falling of a simple tune that sets the hairs on the back of your neck a-rising. The notes and rhythm are like the cadences of words of power, ancient spells at the heart of creation.

The music grows louder, and then you see them, and fear clutches your heart, freezes you in place. A line of horned figures comes slowly into view, winding through the trees towards you. As they come closer, you realize that they aren't horned at all; these are men holding antlers to their heads as they pace in time to the music of a solitary piper. There are others- a boy with a bow and arrow, a figure in a dress, another wearing a hobby-horse. All are dressed in elaborate clothing, hung with ribbons. Figures of laughter in some daytime carnival, perhaps, but here they are freighted with mystery.

They file into the clearing and circle it, first one way, then another. Then they execute a stately dance- looping back and forth, advancing towards one another then retreating. The only sound other than the music is the faint and occasional tick of horn against horn. The dance lasts minutes or hours; then, to no cue you can sense, it ends. The dancers circle the clearing twice again, then they are off and away beneath the trees. The music fades and is gone. The world goes on.

And you are left with this, dawning in your heart as you return to yourself: the pendulum has reached its lowest and will swing up once more. The Light shall return; it shall always return.

All the brightest blessings of the season to you and yours.

Welcome Yule!

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