Image courtesy of http://www.utahskies.org/
Today, this Midwinter Day (winter solstice) it is a time to spend a while meditating upon light and dark - day and night.
There was a time when people carried the lunar rhythm of the moon close to their hearts and often collected healing herbs by the light of the moon. They told variations of a legend when Night was dominant over Day. I recently came across this myth from 'The Prose Edda', Tales from Norse Mythology by Snorri Sturluson (thought to have been written in 1220). It told of a woman called Night, daughter of one of the original giants. Night was dark-skinned and dusky-haired like the family she came from. Then she married a god called Shining One, the Sun ...... and they had a son called Day who took after his father's side being bright and beautiful. So Night was conceived as the original state of the cosmos.
The story goes on to tell that Night and her son Day were given two horses and two chariots and they were put in the sky, so they could ride round the world every twenty four hours. Night rides first on a horse called Frosty-mane and every morning he bedews the earth with foam from his bit. Day's horse is called Shining-mane and the whole earth and sky are illuminated by his mane. Thus Night is regarded as ushering in day - the nocturnal came first.
There was a time when people lived in harmony with nature and, as with Night and Day, the year was divided into Winter and Summer with winter being the dark side of the year when nature sleeps. Today marks the longest hours of darkness - gradually, imperceptibly at first, the light will now creep back and by Imbolc on February 2nd the first stirrings of green shoots start to appear in the soil.
Acknowledgement of source of material to: Professor Brian Bates author of The Real Middle Earth - Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages