I call the days of Samhain through to Yule, my void time.
During this time of ever-increasing darkness, spiralling inward toward the Winter Solstice; as the days grow shorter and temperatures plummet, is a natural time to draw inward.
My life, my interests, my active magical practice, comes to a lull, a pause.
Rather than focusing on the bright full moon, my joyous and happy full moon Esbats, I focus more and more upon the phases of the dark moon.
My ritual practise becomes quieter, more focused on meditation and inner work.
My circle is no longer a bright and joyous place, sparkling with candlelight and even fairy lights; now my circle becomes the dark and comforting womb of the Dark Mother.
Using the minimum candles I need for light, my circle becomes a place of quiet, a reflection of the waning sun and enveloping darkness.
After the formalities and invocations have been said, I often sit by the light of one black candle, dressed and consecrated to the Dark Mother.
I focus on that one candle, a single flame that shines a small pool of light around me.
Then I will snuff the flame, and allow the darkness to reign.
I find myself in the blackness of The Underworld, the womb of the Dark Goddess, her womb that is my tomb.
Darkness brings me comfort, I find solace in this place.
I can draw deep, deep within myself.
I sit at the feet of the Queen of The Underworld, Persephone, Ereshkigal, Hekate.
I lay at her feet and surrender to Her ways, to the unconscious realms, to the dark truths of who I am, to the fear and wonder of my mortality.
The Underworld, this time and place of darkness, is not all peace and quiet.
At times the work is very difficult.
Uncovering the truths of my darker self that I would rather keep hidden.
Putting aside the masks that we show to the world and to ourselves, we reveal parts of us that we may not even be aware of, or some we may be aware of but are unwilling to acknowledge.
Hiding from our truths is impossible in The Underworld, as truth, however unpleasant, is the business of this place.
Working with the Dark Mother, though sometimes very difficult, can also be rewarding.
It is a chance to learn about ourselves, to grow and to change for the better.
This is where we work the foundations for the person we most wish to become.
My dark work during the days of Samhain is a large part of my path, but it does get very heavy.
During the lead up to Yule, the Winter Solstice, I find myself reaching more and more towards that spark of light in the darkness.
While Yule marks the height of winter, with plenty more dark and cold days and nights ahead, it does bring with it a sense of renewal, of hope.
Up until Yule, my Craft winds ever inward, getting deeper and darker as the days of Samhain pass.
I journey inward to the beat of the drum, I do a lot of shamanic work at this time.
I perform weeks long Rituals of Descent, journeying to The Underworld to come face to face with The Dark Goddess herself.
I undertake Devotionals to the Dark Deities and work together with them.
A lot of this work is very difficult and not something I could keep up with without the balance of light and shadow.
Reaching Yule, I can breathe a sigh of relief, that the hardest of my dark work is done for this turn of the wheel.
I have torn myself apart ritually, I have raked myself through the coals and analyzed all I have pulled up from the depths of myself.
Now, with my Underworld work behind me, I feel renewed and at peace.
Like a snake that has shed it’s skin, I feel sleek and shiny, ready to bask in the light once again.
Balance is essential to Witchcraft.
I see the Witch not as White, nor as Black, but as Grey.
For only when we can draw from the depths of ourselves, can we even begin to reach for the higher consciousness of the light.
Dark work, and the Dark Gods and Goddesses, are not at all evil, this is not evil work.
This is the work of the self, of the axiom ‘Know Thyself’.
Yet to work with the darkness all the time, would be to become burdened and weighed down by it.
At the end of the summer, it is always a relief to slip back into the comfort of the shadows, but also, at the end of winter, it is joyous to step back out into the light.
Yule may not be a return to the light, just yet, but it carries that seed of hope within.
The hope of re-emerging after the long winter period, to bask the renewed and cleansed soul in the light of the sun.