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Musing on the Dark Time

by Niklas Gander
copyright 1999

ast Samhain was really quite exceptional. I had been feeling out
of sorts all during the month of October, and couldn't quite wrap my brain around why. Then
on the Night of All Hallow's Eve, my coven sister read the traditional Samhain invocation of
the Horned God, and all the rest of my coven siblings whispered the words in response as she
read them out loud, sounding like an ocean of whispering spirits, and I was completely
transported, and felt myself opening the Gate through which all must pass. The message was
very short and to the point -- that the Realm of the Horned One is a realm where Witches go
to learn their magics, and that this dark time between Samhain and Yule was a critical period
in learning of His magic, so we should make good use of the time.
The Ancient Ones, the Gods and Goddesses of Witchcraft's eldritch rites, are vastly larger
and infinitely older than any of us can truly comprehend. I often feel dissatisfied with the
presentation of our patron deities in the popular press. The awe, the terror by which we know
them nigh is not just ignored, but actually deliberately avoided. Truly powerful Witch-craft is
not harmless. It carries with it a power and a responsibility. Our Gods are not harmless,
though perhaps initiation makes them more open to working with us. Or is it that it opens us
to work with them?
The Great Horned God of Witchcraft, the shaggy beast with crescent horns, the antlered man,
the curious mixture of man and beast, is our teacher as well. He is at once Lord of Death, and
its ensuing transformations, as well as the Green Man, rising up from the fertile loam to greet
the Sun. He comes to us in the call of migrating geese, and in the sound of a baleful wind
blowing through bare branches. He is our Teacher, and we are pupils in His school. He nods
with wicked grin at his consort and mate, the Black Hag, whose eyes are deep pools of
mystic truths, darkened for those not prepared to see, but blatantly pealed back for those Wise
ones open to the Dark Mysteries, the Lessons of the Dark Time. And, what are those lessons?
At least they include:
To acknowledge the fear that grips our soul when we face change, and the threat to our very
personalities that it brings.
To court the danger that truly powerful magic implies, while resting in the Dark Embrace of
the Benefactor and Consoler.
To rest, like the tree, from pushing out leaves, so that we might better foster our roots, and

and cold. and yet who is also the hag. the succumbing of the hunted to the hunter. Who has not gotten lost in the woods. naked death. when the buzzing sounds of insects conjured forth an inhuman. the torn flesh of the mouse in the maw of the cat. And may He teach us His Wisdom as we travel into this wonder-filled Dark Time. The Lord's two faces.grow strong and hardy. making our ambiguous relationship with nature clear -. for a more productive season next year. at once burgeoning life. This Hallows. both evoke a terrible awe. may we remember the awe inspiring reality that is our Goat-foot God. The Lord of the Wildwood confuses and conceals as much as supports and shades in the continual reenactment of Nature's sensual dance. of home and hearth. the anxiety of disorientation and fear of Death. from whom we receive the blessings of food.nature is at once our Mother. as we call the Dark Lord from His Realm of Shades. otherworldly timbre. of clothing. .