Yule: Going Slowly In the Dark

Yule: Going Slowly In the Dark December 17, 2017

Twenty years or so ago, I asked my doctor about seasonal depression. The first sentence of her reply involved Prozac, and I decided that my problems just weren’t that bad.

It was a few years after that that I started seeing my regular acupuncturist, Yu She. In our initial interview I told her “Well, in the winter I often feel like I just don’t have as much energy. I feel kind of down.”

She looked at me like I was a not very bright child and said, “It’s winter. You’re supposed to slow down. That’s the natural cycle.”

I liked her answer a lot better than my doctor’s one about powerful psychoactive drugs.

Photo by Pixabay user Lichtmagnet Public domain / CC0
Photo by Pixabay user Lichtmagnet Public domain / CC0

Industrial capitalism calls on citizens to be well-regulated producer-consumer units with the same specifications the whole year round. If a unit in the machine gets out of alignment, it should be treated with whatever chemical is needed to bring it back into compliance.

But (as I discuss in Why Buddha Touched the Earth, which makes a great Yule gift for the Zen Pagan on your list) Neopaganism is in part a reaction against this industrial culture. Agrarian and gatherer-hunter cultures are intimately tied to the seasonal cycle. And so is our very biology.

Here in the dark of the year even the weather invites us, demands of us, to slow down. To walk on an icy path without falling, you must go slowly.

Now, dear reader, not only do I not know your individual situation, but I am not a psychiatrist. So this is not a suggestion to discontinue any meds.

But if you are feeling the need to slow down in the winter, don’t let yourself be pushed into seeing that as some sort of disorder or illness in need of treatment. Take heart that you are entraining with the natural cycle of the seasons.


It’s not too early to start thinking about next summer’s festivals. I’ve been invited to speak at the Starwood Festival, July 10-16 in Pomeroy, Ohio.

Also let me remind you again that my books make great Yule gifts for the Zen Pagan on your list.

"Thanks, I will check those out!"

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