Descent and Return of the Light


For Seekers – From Art of Change Tarot – Seasonal Observances

From October 31st to February 1st, I will be marking the Descent and Return of the Light here in the Northern Hemisphere with ritual, writings, and special offerings from my Tarot practice.  There will be in-person activities here in Western Massachusetts as well as on-line events and special blog posts to take advantage of from everywhere.  I hope all receive support for making just the right journey through the dark time to receive its gifts and meet its challenges.

An overview booklet with full descriptions of weekly themes, reflection prompts, Tarot activities, and ritual suggestions is available for purchase to prepare for the season and follow along in its progression.

Why This Focus?

Dark_Goddess_Wreath49fd27I bought the Dark Goddess Tarot for my December 2nd birthday in 2013, thinking those Goddesses could support me to travel through the holiday season. I experimented with connecting cards to a kind of Advent Wreath, but as I lit the candles wondered, “Why are we fighting the dark?  What if we waited with the dark?”

The idea of ritual support for opening to the dark in the weeks before Solstice took hold.  Then to keep the balance – and our hopes up in January where nights are still pretty long! – the returning light needs to be welcomed over a period of time.  February 1as a celebration of the fire Goddess Brigid and February 2 where Christians bless candles offers a culminating celebration focused on light.


As the year enters its darkest phase in the 4 weeks before Solstice, we will wait with the dark and see what gifts it has to offer for: celebrating what the passing year has given us; connecting with our beloved dead: finding our dark power; and releasing what is no longer needed.

At Solsticetide, we’ll celebrate the return of the light and the time-out-of-time that comes with the end of the year holidays. We will find a Solstice seed of the new to gestate as the light returns.

In January, we’ll tend the returning light by discovering what can be born of our broken parts, how to root and reach from what is emerging from the Solstice seed of the new; and following our heart’s light.

The Ritual and its Elements

To paraphrase Rachel Pollack, ritual builds a bridge between the physical and the spiritual. Actions undertaken with intention – and often, repeated in daily, seasonally, or annual intervals – and the objects used are the piers and cables, roadway and deck of ritual. You can have a very simple bridge (a log over water) or a masterwork (the Brooklyn Bridge). This seasonal ritual offers a plan developed from my own Waiting with the Dark to be used or modified to meet your own needs and inspirations.

Objects and Tools:

  • A wreath / altar / reliquary / focal point with 4 candles. For the Waiting with the Dark phase, the 4 candles should surround something like holly or evergreen branches to represent the everlasting light in the dark. For the Tending the Returning Light phase, the centerpiece should include something like a dark bowl of water to represent the dark in the light.
  • An oracle for connecting with the Greater Than / Divine and the Dark Goddess Tarot Deck by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is especially appropriate for Descent; available at You should feel free to work with one Goddess or many. You may want to select Goddesses by a random/sight unseen draw or consciously select a Goddess whose energies you would like to cultivate.


Descent days are Monday because that is the moon’s day.

  • On November 23rd (and the follow nights), you would light all 4 of your candles. There could be 4 Dark Goddesses who correspond to the 4 elements or people could pick one for the week.
  • On November 30th (and that week), you’d light 3 of your candles. There could be 3 Dark Goddesses to show you the faces of the Triple Goddess that you need to see, or just one for the week.
  • On December 7th (and that week), you’d light 2 candles. There could be 2 Dark Goddesses to represent a gate that you/society/the planet need to pass through into the dark, or one for the week.
  • From December 14th-18th, you light 1 candle and work with 1 Dark Goddess who will be with you to lead you through the Dark. December 19th – 21st, you light no candles and wait in the dark accompanied by this Goddess.
  • On the 22nd, you light lots of candles and celebrate the Solstice.

Return days are Sunday’s because it is the Sun’s day:

  • On Sunday, January 3rd (and that week), you light 1 candle and bring the Goddess from the Dark into the light with you and explore authenticity, self-compassion, and joy.
  • On Sunday, January 1oth (and that week), you light 2 candles. There could be lights to show you how to root and reach as the light returns.
  • On Sunday, January 1th (and that week), you light 3 candles. There could be lights to guide you in being active, open, and listening to your heart.
  • On Saturday, January 24th (and that week), you light 4 candles. There could be 4 guides for recognizing the growth of your Solstice seed.
  • On On January 31st and February 1, we celebrate the even and day of Imbolc, Brigit’s Day, with lots of candles.

Happenings (Follow the links to get full details on the events and, where needed, register.)

Saturday, October 31:  Wisdom of the Seasons: Dark Love’s Dawning Mini-Retreat in Easthampton, MA.  Join us for a day of traveling with the oracles and listening for the wisdom of the season at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Pre-registration required by October 26th.

Monday, November 23rd:

  • Weekly themed blog posts start to support your Waiting with the Dark Rituals.
  •  Tele-Sharing Circles Start.  In these intimate tele-circles of 75 – 90 minutes, we will gather to share our stories of what Waiting with the Dark is opening up for us. Brief meditations and special Tarot prompts/play will part of the circles.  Includes booklet. No more than 6 people in each group.  Cost is $100
  • Sessions will be held Mondays, 11/24, 12/1, 8, and 15 at 6:15pm ET.
  • I also have three slots for individual sessions of 45 minutes to explore the weekly Waiting with the Dark themes. Cost for the 4 sessions is $160

Tuesday, December 22: Solstice Bonfire at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA

The first or second Saturday in January  Mass Tarot Session at Lily Library in Florence where I’ll facilitate our annual Wheel of the Year Spread and Process Work

Sunday, January 3rd: Weekly themed blog posts start to support your Return of the Light Rituals.

Monday, January 4th: Tending the Returning Light Tele-Sharing Circles Start.  In these intimate tele-circles of 75 – 90 minutes, we will gather to share our stories of what the Return of the Light is opening up for us. Brief meditations and special Tarot prompts/play will part of the circles.  No more than 6 people in each group.  Cost is $100.

Beginning of February: Celebrate Imbolc – TBD

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