I love this day and the following days, my favorite time of the year, as it is for many of you. On December 14 the Halcyon Days begin. It’s an ancient mythological tradition, of celebrating tranquility for 7 days prior to until 7 days after the Winter Solstice (this year it’s December 21, 5:02 pm, AM). According to legend, it is associated with unusually calm seas; hence the common meanings of halcyon –  peaceful. I like to play along, eliminating excess business, and entering a quiet, contemplative retreat mode. This is when I turn my activities and awareness towards the soulful meaning of the season. This is the time of the Great Return of the Light. I believe in its full meaning.

As humans many of us are apprehensive about the dark, and as darkness increases I hold my hope that light will return, and take measures to secure hearth and home, prepare to hunker down, stay warm and bright. Suddenly I’m in the mood to clean, move things around, decorate and write, all to prepare for festivities during Advent. From time immemorial people have prepared for this season by purifying their lives, cleaning their homes, bringing in evergreen boughs, and completing old business.

One tradition is to hang “Holiday Revels” (12.12.12) near the Christmas Tree. This artwork is a Memory Theater for some of the ways to celebrate through the Halcyon Days. Cross culturally, it is the richest time of the year. All peoples have marked this time as significant.

Holiday Revels, detail, 2013 ©Kathleen O'Brien

Holiday Revels, detail, 2013 ©Kathleen O’Brien

Let’s all all celebrate this great crazy life and return of the light.

note: featured image is Kathleen O’Brien Studio open to the Halcyon Days Presenting “Talismans for the 4 Elements”, on 12.12.20