The festival of Mabon marks the beginning of the dark part of the year.  The leaves are falling, the days are shortening, and the air is starting to chill.  It is not yet winter, but a fair part of the bounty has come and gone.  To our ancestors it was a lot more scary and unstable of a season than it is now, but we still carry that inherent link within us.  Yes, we can go to a grocery store for food, and we have electric and gas heaters whenever we need them, but there is still that intuitive feeling of darkness for those of us who feel the seasons.

This isn’t a bad thing.  The darkness is imperative to growth and change.  The darkness challenges us to look deeper within and rid ourselves of impediments and weakness.  The darkness forces us to face our fears and uncertainties head-on and learn from them.

I admit for much of my life I either lived in the darkness or ignored it.  The constant state of imbalance meant I was spinning my wheels when it came to any progress in my life.  Living in darkness I missed a lot of opportunities and lost my way a few times.  Avoiding it I not only neglected an important part of myself but allowed myself to be comfortable and what I thought was content.  In reality all it did was let the darkness grow, until it demanded attention.  At that point I was back at living in the darkness.  It’s a detrimental cycle to be sure.

I am still learning to not fear the darkness, to take it as it comes, and to let it go.  I am still learning to understand that in order for there to be light there must also be dark.  I am still learning to not consider darkness “bad” or “evil”.  I am still learning to accept that the path is not always well-lit, well-worn, or easily travelled.  If it were I would be getting nowhere.

This year we’ve been blessed with a lot of light, but it took us a long trudge through the darkness to get there.  Issues with partners and our marriage made us recognize things we needed to resolve to be a stronger couple.  Those same issues brought up individual insecurities and resentments from our respective pasts that needed to be addressed before we could progress in our life together.  Losing jobs and our house brought us closer to family.  On my end it bolstered me to work harder to provide for my household and forced us to learn to save and budget.  It also gave us the opportunity to pay off debts that have been blights on our credit for years.  Health problems have given me a better look at where and how I need to take better care of my body, spirit, and self in general.

It’s been a rough step in our lives together and separate,  but it’s been necessary and in a positive direction.  There’s still work to be done, and as we enter another dark season I wonder what it will bring,  but I’m learning not to fear it but to embrace and learn from it knowing I will come out a better me on the other side.  I know things will come to me as I am ready and able to handle them, and I know that my faith will get me through with a little support and love from my community and my family.

Welcome to the dark time, my friends.  What will you learn about yourself this year?