As Beltane is the opposing force to Samhain, and Mabon opposes Ostara, Yule opposes Litha. In the northern hemisphere, it is the longest night of the year, in the southern, the longest day. The sun is both at its weakest, and strongest, depending on where you are on the planet.
While our ancestors never knew about the opposing seasons of the two hemispheres, they did grasp that the year moves in a cycle, and that as the year progressed, each season has an equal but opposite partner. This balance between polarities was what kept the natural order of things.
Where at Litha, the world is warm, and full of life, now at Yule, it is dead and barren. The land is covered in a thick blanket of snow, that muffles all sound. Being out in the snowfall, you might as well be the only person in the universe, the silence is so pervasive. A shout seems to go nowhere. This is the Dead of Winter.
Yet, even in the bleakest of times, there is a spark of hope. Tonight, the sun is reborn anew, to begin its growth and ascension again. Winter is now half over, we’ve made it. The worst is over, and that, is worth celebrating.
No matter how deep the snow gets, from this point on, we know that Spring is not so far away. There is quite literally, a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is the returning sun. Modern society thinks of Sun Worshippers as “Primitive” Cultures, but our ancestors understood through observation, how the sun affects all life. They understood that without the sun, there would be no life.
Modern science confirms that life only happened because of the sun, and the Earth’s distance from it. This “Goldilocks” zone that the planet orbits in, isn’t too hot, nor too cold, it’s just right for life to have started. Even though our ancestors knew nothing about orbital mechanics, observation taught them the importance of the sun. Perhaps they were not as primitive as we think.
In life, we observe the birth and ascension to a peak of power and ability, followed by the slow degrade into death. We observe this same exact pattern each year, with the sun, but the sun also fades to a point, and then comes back. Perhaps the sun dies, and is reborn anew each year. If that is true, and our lives follow the same pattern as the sun, isn’t it possible that after we die, we are also reborn anew?
We see the pattern repeat each year. The rebirth of the sun brings new life to the land, and birth to all the animals on it. The death that happens between Samhain and now, will soon be replaced with new life. Everything we see in the natural world, shows us that death is not the end, it’s simply a transition to something new.
Whether you choose to believe in an Afterlife, where all your desires are fulfilled for eternity, or one where you make ready for a new birth and life on this plain, everything in the world around us, shows us that there is new life after the death of this one.
For two millennia, the Christian Church has indoctrinated everyone they could, into believing this is the only life you get. It’s no wonder that death is feared, if you only get one chance at doing everything you want. This is especially true since we have no recollection of any other lives, so we are forced to learn as we go through this life. Most don’t even begin to figure things out, until they are past the prime of this life. We sometimes call this wisdom.
Yet the idea of only a single life is contrary to everything we see in the natural world. After the death of everything, new life returns each Spring. If this happens, without fail, to everything in Nature, why not us as well? We may not remember lives we’ve lived before, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t lived them. Besides, having such memories would be more confusing than helpful.
Except that is, for the lessons we’ve learned in those past lives. Those memories, we carry subconsciously. These are the things that we somehow just know the right choice to make. We can’t explain why, we just seem to know. We’ve all experienced this. We’ve all had times where we knew the right choice to make, either in our own life, or someone close to us, and the consequences of making the wrong choice, even though we’d never been through the situation in this life.
At Yule, we celebrate the transition from death, back into life, that we all know is coming. We exchange gifts, in acknowledgement that life is worth celebrating. A new cycle is beginning, and just as the sun gives life back to the world, we give gifts to those we care about, to show them that their life is meaningful to us.
In the middle of the Season of Death, we celebrate life.