Column: A Good Year, A Hard Year

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us….”

-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

For me, this well-known first line of Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities captures the current chaotic mood in the world and this time of the year.

In so many ways, the month of December is a time to reflect on the joys of the year, even as we count to its chronological end. Many cultural and religious traditions have festivals surrounding light in the dark months of the year – Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, Jul, Saturnalia, and the winter solstice itself.

As humans, when things are darkest we instinctively seek the light. For some, this light may come in the form of holiday gatherings, vacations, spending more time with family, and choosing to find things that bring joy rather than pain. The current solar eclipse paired with the dark moon in Sagittarius brings an energetic charge of new beginnings during a time when things may seem bleak.

Many candles in a darkened space [Pixabay]

Like the rest of the month, as the light continues to wane in the northern hemisphere, this eclipse-dark moon pairing challenges each of us to look internally at where we are, what we believe, and what we accept about ourselves and our lives. Humans are individuals of growth, and this time allows us to reflect on the progress we’ve made during the course of the year.

Perhaps this is one reason why so many publications list so many “best of” editions at this time of year. We need more films, songs, comedy specials, books, or vacation destinations to add to our holiday wish list. The month of December provides a chance to reflect on our internal growth through seeing what we might have missed. We may not really care to see every new release, but our reaction to this abundance provides a snapshot of our own awareness of what still matters and what is no longer relevant in our lives.

What are we choosing to release as we say farewell and what are we wanting to bring into our lives? What are we leaving behind?

It is easy to say that these are the “worst of times” as we count our losses, but what are our hopes and dreams that we will carry into the future?

The current pandemic, with its count of the ill, dead, and dying, could be considered a season of darkness. As the omicron coronavirus variant wave creeps across the globe, many have chosen to embrace life regardless of the number of variants. The human race may never rid itself of this virus, its mutations, and its effect on our perception a normal life. Some are choosing to release the common shared global experience of the pandemic in favor of renewing past pursuits and practices. Others remain cautious and live their lives accordingly.

To balance the darkness, there is the time of great hope with the so-called “Great Resignation” in the United States. Those who have jobs that are not satisfying have felt free to move about the country, with some even leaving the country to find a better balance in life. The current pandemic forces each of us to reexamine our personal and professional goals, and the persons we choose to have in our lives. In many ways, the malaise felt at the start of the year seeped away with each person who chose to re-invent their lives by changing jobs, moving to a new town, or even starting their own business.

What I love about this particular solar eclipse in combination with the dark moon in Sagittarius is an energetic boost traditionally associated with a new year and new beginnings. This is similar to my home tradition’s celebration of Saturnalia, where the sabbat marks the celebration of our new year. Traditionally, Saturnalia is a time when things are upside down. It is the perfect time for new beginnings. We celebrate the start of the new year on the shortest day of the year because we know the light will increase from that point forward.

The season of light is what we bring into our lives that is hope and happiness.

Often in sappy romantic movies, there is a line that asks, “how do you know so-and-so was the one?” The answer is usually some form of  “whenever we’re apart, I feel like there’s a piece of me missing.” The same can be said for many aspects of life: the right profession, the right home, the right circle of friends, and the right religious path. When we walk away, we notice something missing if it’s not right. It may take awhile and a few dead end turns, but we sort ourselves out.

The lunar eclipse, as seen from Miami, Florida [M. Tejeda-Moreno]

At this season, we can ask ourselves what we are meant to learn from the ups and downs of the past year.  The eclipse demands that we face ourselves and our life lessons. If we didn’t have the best of years or life we feel stagnant, we can look at what lies on the path ahead.

Even though current times are chaotic, I remain optimistic because this is a time to celebrate the human experience. We mark the end of the darkness and the beginning of the light through merriment, festive meals, and spending cozy times with each other.

We can remain open to new beginnings and fresh experiences that might not otherwise have come into our lives.  The eclipse and dark moon combination graces all with a surge of energy, a fire spark that allows us to explore the internal while pushing forward with our goals and dreams. It is like having two new year celebrations in a row. There is no need to wait for January 1 when an eclipse provides the rocket fuel for the present.


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