Today has been a strange day. The clouds have, since dawn, been low and dense, releasing heavy, persistent rain. The house, as a result, is dark and cold with this most eerie of atmospheres…but not the ‘good’ dark and eerie atmosphere that usually comes along with the winter half-light…
I’m hoping for 4pm to hurry up so that night can settle and I can hopefully find some comfort in it.
On the subject of night, I needed to hold my rose quartz close to my heart again when I slept last night. My head was a very loud place, and I deeply missed having the presence of someone else in my bed. It’s been a number of months now since I’ve shared a night with someone. I’m a solitary person, but loneliness can be so very heavy when all you want is that pressure of someone’s arms around your torso.
But the world is still a good place to be, and there is happiness to be found. Fir, for example, is something that gives me great comfort. The scent of fir soothes me in times of stress, and revitalizes me in times of weariness. It’s a scent that I associate with love and childhood, joy and possibility.
I went to a Steiner School, and celebrating the seasons was an essential part of the curriculum. Come winter and fir would come forth in a beautiful form; that of the Advent Spiral.
When I was a child, The Advent Spiral was a yearly tradition that took place at the beginning of December. Boughs of fir would be laid in the main school hall in the shape of a spiral. The boughs would be further decorated with crystals and gemstones. A candle would be placed in the centre of the spiral, usually on a tree stump. It would then be lit, providing the only source of light. The darkened hall would quietly fill up with school children, teachers and parents, while a small group of lyre and flute players provided soft, enchanting music.
Once everyone was seated and the dark had settled, the eldest child in the school would be given a large, red apple, into which was inserted a white candle. They would then walk the spiral and light their candle from the flame in the centre. They would then place their candle at a point of their choosing, and walk back around the spiral and to their seat. Then, the next child would get up, and the next, until every child had lit a candle and placed it down. By the end, the Advent Spiral would be aglow with 70+ candles. The atmosphere was one of magic and wonder. Afterwards, everyone would quietly troop out, and disband into the winter night to friends houses, for cups of tea, thick slices of home made stollen and plates of freshly baked gingerbread.
The Advent Spiral was always an exquisite experience, from the moment I first caught scent of the boughs being brought in from the cold, to the mad scramble into the car to head back over the moors to home.
I was seven years old when I walked my first Advent Spiral (and fourteen when I walked my last), and I think that it was then that my adoration for the dark and the wild north really began to sink into my bones. I can recall feeling as though I could live forever in that little world of darkness and fir boughs. The advent spiral was special for another reason – it was a promise that snow would soon be on its way.
I am so thankful that I was able to have this and many other experience without the interference of internet or mobile phones. I am so thankful that I grew up among trees and farm yards and gnomes. I am so thankful that I was encouraged to embrace the seasons with everything my little heart had to give. My childhood was one of innocence and enchantment. Contentment was always within my grasp. I lived my childhood, I mean I truly, truly lived and oh, my friends, it was glorious.