A writer's pledge
By the Light of the Moon and Stars

The Longest Night

The title of this magical animation by paper cut artist Angie Pickman refers to the winter solstice, but it's also symbolic of other "long nights" we face in life: a mental or physical health crisis...a period of grief, hardship, or trauma...or the week leading to a troubling transition of power in Washington DC.

"We are always on a journey from darkness into light," the Irish poet/philosopher John O'Donohue reminds us. "At first, we are children of the darkness. Your body and your face were formed first in the kind darkness of your mother's womb. You lived the first nine months in there. Your birth was the first journey from darkness into light. All your life, your mind lives within the darkness of your body. Every thought you have is a flint moment, a spark of light from your inner darkness. The miracle of thought is its presence in the night side of your soul; the brilliance of thought is born of darkness. Each day is a journey. We come out of the night into the day. All creativity awakens at this primal threshold where light and darkness test and bless each other. You only discover the balance in your life when you learn to trust the flow of this ancient rhythm."

Copyright by Karen Davis

In the mythic sense, we practice moving from darkness into light every morning of our lives. The task now is make that movement larger, to join together to carry the entire world through the long night to the dawn.

Stray by Jeanie Tomanek

Capturing the Moon by Jeanie Tomanek

The art above is"The Spirit Within" by Karen Davis (UK); "Stray" and "Capturing the Moon" by Jeanie Tomanek (US). The video is by Angie Pickman (US); go here to see more of her work. The quote is from Anam Cara (Bantam Books, 1997) by John O'Donhue (1956-2008, Ireland). All right to the video and art above are reserved by the artists; all rights to O'Donohue's text are reserved by his estate.


I love the dark, there is such peace and healing seeds and community to be found in it, when you get past the old fears and your eyes adjust. Trees do their singing in the deep down dark. But even so, I can love this post too, as I love everything John O'Donahue wrote. I shall be contemplating these words for a while I think. ❤ Thank you for the beauty you always hold up like a lantern, like a star.

Warm, wonderful, hopeful. Thank you.

Long Nights

Who knows what the child sees,
nestled in the womb dark,
perhaps a dream of light.

Who knows what the wolf sees,
coursing midnight trails,
perhaps the red of blood.

Who knows what the snail sees,
curled in translucent cave,
perhaps a curled gray path.

Who knows what the dog sees,
bellied down by the fire,
perhaps the promised sun.

Who knows what a man sees,
face turned to the wall,
perhaps the dark of death.

©2017 Jane Yolen all rights reserved


"Trees do their singing in the deep down dark."

That is a beautiful image.

Being limited in health and energy, I'm unable to be on the front-lines of political activism like I used to be when I was younger and stronger. Speaking of this to my friend Ellen Kushner, she reminded me that the people behind the lines making soup for the front-line fighters are also necessary. Finding words and art to keep spirits up is my way, I think, of making soup.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making soup for us.

Yes Elise, to that thank you! Of course the soup-makers and boilers of kettles for tea. They have always made a difference in all the long marches and short treks between the skins we wear.

I, like you Terri, am limited in health and energy. Your words fed me at the breaking of fast after first going to the page to add to a medicine story being written for 'the harshest winter yet'. And John O'Donahue keeps feeding us from his side of the threshold, still.

I love in particular the art "The Spirit Within" ... the hare, I love the Hare.

Just got back from a magical two days in Wells, Somerset. The weather was bright, crisp and beautiful, and the fifteenth century hotel we stayed in had a view over the medieaval facade of Wells Cathedral. In the evening the sandstone carvings of saints and angels glowed pink in the setting sun and the stained glass windows errupted into a perfect conflagration of colours, made even more beautiful by the fact that they survived the hammers and stones of Oliver Cromwell's iconoclastic troopers.

Now I'm back in the industrial Midlands. It's raining. It's cold. It's grey. It's dirty..., but I hope I've brought at least some of the light back with me.

your beautiful posts give such hope and courage

Earth's night allows the quiet in which we reflect, release, replenish, ready to re-engage with the dawn, walking the path of our intentions through the fantastical forest of our lives. Thank you, Terri, Jane, you helped me quiet my energy and move forward.

For today, I'll "chop wood, carry water", breathe, dream wildly, create, walk on the earth gently, engaging with kindness.

Terri, thank you, thank you, for your words & your art, for the words & art of others that you find & collect here. I've marched in several protests since the election (having done so only once before) & the work you do here is a large part of what keeps me going through achy feet, chilly fingers, & the frequent feeling that it's all futile.

Thank you for making soup and keeping the kettle boiling, Terri Windling! On this "day before," beauty and kindness and soul sustenance are needed now more than ever. You help keep hope alive, when fear is very real. Thank you.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and Angie Pickman's animation, which is so beautiful. They were just what I needed as I settle in for this long night.

I always think of Wells as Elizabeth Goudge country, for she lived there in her childhood and set some of her loveliest books there.

Many thanks to you all. There will be some tough times ahead, I fear...but together we'll get through them, and make the world a better place as we do so.

I read 'The Little White Horse' only last year, but even with my aged ear I could hear the distant echo of my childhood self, who would have loved every word. Obviously her literary imagination was deeply steeped in the beauty and magic of Somerset.

I adore The Little White Horse, which was set here in Devon. (Goudge lived in the village of Mardon, South Devon, during the war years.) It's my favorite Goudge novel - along with Linnets & Valerians. (Though The Rosemary Tree, The Dean's Watch, The White Witch, and the Eliot trilogy are right up there too.)

A City of Bells was influenced by her childhood in Wells (which is called Torminister in the book), and also her children's book Henrietta's House.

Thank you for marching for those of us who can't!

You have caught something I often wonder about. The great mystery. Of course it comes to poems.....

The day after November ninth, I couldn't stop crying and wailing, with fear. So I read everything at hand, Gary Snyder, beautiful poems and things that are sacred to me.
I tried to write poems which dropped like bricks. Then I saw what a poet (sorry, forgot his name) who said "There are two things poetry must have; music and magic." And then I
wrote a poem that came out of that. I've been reading it at various places, even jazz & poetry.....It is about how we are folks who use music and magic....

Looks like there's a rich vein of works to enjoy here! I'll seek them out.

The comments to this entry are closed.