Day 1 of Descent and Return: We Begin in Darkness


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

This is the content of the email that all those participating in Descent and Return of the Light will receive on Monday, November 21—the actual email looks a bit prettier :). You are welcome to join us!

Mystic Word

If we correctly understand the dark, we can use the cover of darkness to learn the magic of our particular sacred rites, which can lead to a revitalized and replenished life.

Demetra George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon

Wisdom Image

From the Dark Goddess Tarot

Invitation to Reflection and Ritual

Welcome to the first half of the 2022 Winter Solstice-hinged e-retreat and ritual: Waiting with the Dark.

As we do each year, we begin the first half of the retreat by waiting with the dark. Weekly themes stay the same – cultivating gratitude, connecting with the ancestors, opening to dark nurture, release and renewal – because the Sun is consistent in its movements. But the Moon travels a different path each year, shifting through dark and light on its own 28-29 day cycle. As constant Sun and shifting Moon dance together, each season flows with a unique energy. And for those who tend the sacred at this time, a special gift awaits in the unique mix of dark and light each year.

For the 2022 marking of the season, we begin our seeking on the dark moon and the Solstice, too, will occur during dark moon days.

What is a Dark Moon? What does it invite us to?

In the days right before the moon is made new, it returns to the place in the sky where it began its moonthly journey. The energy gathered through the whole of the lunation now flows away into moonless nights. As the moon releases light and takes us into the dark, we also are invited to release that which we no longer need, that which we want healed, that which did not come to fruition, that which is completed. Practices to support this release include:

  • Reflecting back on the events, memories, emotions, achievements, and disappointments since the last new moon. What we find to be beneficial can be celebrated. What fell short of the mark is to be released so we don’t carry its burden into the next moonth.
  • Engaging in a ritual (simple or elaborate) to enact your release. For example, we can write down what you want to release on slips of paper, and then – safely! – burn them. The ash can then be buried in earth, lifted into the air to be blown with the breeze, or placed upon waters to flow away.

Once our release is made, we can travel with a lighter heart into the moments when the moon is made new. In this way, the depth of darkness becomes a well from which we draw up the revitalization and replenishment to move into the new.

The moonth we are concluding began and now ends in Scorpio which corresponds to the Tarot’s Death card. In the Dark Goddess Tarot, Death is La Santa Muerte, the Mexican Goddess of Death.
Death’s appearance is a call to transform that which can no longer exist in its current state. Once the obsolete is surrendered, La Santa Muerte can take it, re-shape it, and offer it back in a life-giving form.

Guided by La Santa Muerte in this dark moon time, we are invited to surrender to a double ending.  Along with releasing what we do not want to carry from the past lunar cycle, this dark moon day we can begin the retreat-long process of releasing what must come to an end from the trials and tests of the whole year—and anything we still carry the years of challenge that have preceded it.

We also can bring the power of our intention and focus to ask for the transformation of what can no longer exist in its current state in our communities, countries, and the world: repression of women across the globe, unequal access to health care, white supremacist institutions, and denial of climate change, for example. Our inner and magical work to surrender these to Death can complement our outer and collective action work.

For today or anytime before the moon is made new on Wednesday, the 23rd, you may want to engage in reflection and ritual as described above. Then, led by a spark of revitalization and replenishment, you are invited to set an intention for the retreat as a whole. How would you like to tend the dark? What transformation do you seek? If you use Tarot or oracle cards, you may want to work with a card to represent this intention. I suggest that you consciously choose the card—seek out that card that you want to travel with as a helper—but, as with all my prompts, do what works for you. What emerges from a “random” pull might be just what you need.

Getting Oriented

A Review of the Flow of the Week

Each Monday we start a new theme. The first email introduces the theme and daily emails through the week offer a brief inspiration and invitation to practice related to an aspect of the theme.

The week builds toward a candle wreath ritual on Sunday outlined in the Sunday daily email and in the Overview Booklet. You don’t have to wait until Sunday to be working with your candles or do the ritual.

Also on Sunday at 4pm ET (time zone converter), we will have our weekly sharing circle. Reminders and Zoom links about his will be in this spot in emails toward the end of the week and on the Overview Booklet page.

Flow of the Whole Season

Remember that the Overview Booklet outlines the whole season and includes guidance for how to do each candle wreath ritual. So if you want to do your weekly ritual on, say, Thursday night or the daily emails aren’t what you want to follow, you can use the Overview Booklet to guide you through the whole ritual.


You are welcome to join us. More details and registration on the Descent and Return of the Light program page.

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