THE FALLOW WAY: MIDWINTER’S DAY

English: Winter frost 2

Now is the Winter Solstice — Midwinter’s Day — the coming of Great Yule.

This is the time when the Yin energies of the universe — which seemed to our ancestors to overwhelm the earth with dark and cold — suddenly reach the darkest point.  Then  the days, having reached their shortest, come to an apparent standstill.  That is when, in the darkness a tiny, bright spark of Yang appears and slowly grows, gradually bringing back the light and warmth.

Lines from the Judy Collins song “The Fallow Way” illustrate well the feeling of Mindwinter’s Day:

I’ll learn to love the fallow way
When winter draws the valley down
And stills the rivers in their storm
And freezes all the little brooks
Time when our steps slow to the song
Of falling flakes and crackling flames
When silver stars are high and still
Deep in the velvet of the night sky

The crystal time the silence times
I’ll learn to love their quietness
While deep beneath the glistening snow
The black earth dreams of violets
I’ll learn to love the fallow way

I’ll learn to love the fallow way
When all my colors fade to white
And flying birds fold back their wings
Upon my anxious wonderings
The sun has slanted all her rays
Across the vast and harvest plains
My memories mingle in the dawn
I dream a joyful vagabonds

As sure as time, as sure as snow
As sure as moonlight, wind and stars
The fallow time will fall away
The sun will bring an April day
And I will yield to Summer’s way

“Fallow” was a word well known to earlier generations.  It meant to plow a field but not to plant it; to leave it in inactivity; to leave it fallow.  Winter is our natural time of inactivity.  The old hokku writers of Japan called their fallow time “winter seclusion” — the confinement we feel in body and spirit when the bitter cold of winter keeps us indoors.

Yaha wrote such a verse, very appropriate for this time when the nights cease their lengthening and the universe seems, for a moment, to stand still in cold and silence:

The lamp flame
Is round and unmoving;
Winter seclusion.

Glad Yule to everyone, and thanks for your continued reading of my site.

David

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