Winter’s Cloak

Today’s exercise began with a poem that I heard a year ago for the first time, at the Winter Assembly of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I loved it on first hearing. It is Winter’s Cloak by Joyce Rupp. Here is a recording of me reading it aloud.

Winter's Cloak by Joyce Rupp. Recorded as part of #honouringthedarkness #poetry

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I love Winter.

I live in Ireland, temperate land where Winter means darkness and short days. It rarely snows here, we are too close to the seas. Winter here means cold and damp, but the contrast with the summer is the lack of light. In the Summer, I feel guilty about spending time indoors reading and resting. In the Summer, a sunny day means I have to go out and enjoy it. Sunny days are a rarity even in Summer.

In Winter, however, I am allowed to be as introverted as I like. I can lie under a blanket reading a book, writing or just being, and it is a day well spent.

I am fortunate to live in a place where hunger and starvation are no longer common. I have hot showers and a warm house and food that is transported around the world to huge supermarkets so that even in the late months of winter/early spring, I always have food. I do not hunger. Most of the world is not so fortunate. I try not to forget how fortunate I am, and I am grateful for my own well being.

I love the darkness, and I welcome the returning light at solstice and throughout the year. And yet, I do not always give myself the darkness of winter’s cloak. I blind myself with the bluescreen light of facebook, of netflix. Perhaps a little more, I would like to wrap myself in the darkness and stillness of winter’s cloak, and rest, just being. Just being.

This post is day six of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at


Welcoming the Darkness


At this time of greatest darkness in the northern hemisphere, when the light is getting dim, where do I honour the dark? Do I make time for it? I don’t know if I do. I often need time in darkness, with my eyes closed or with curtains drawn, to rest and reset. But I don’t know if I honour it.

Janelle’s email yesterday left me wondering. I welcome silence and solitude in my life, but that’s because the alternative (noise and crowds) makes me anxious and frazzled. If I’m honest, I’m a little bit afraid of the dark. I love sleeping in a darkened room, but only because I can’t sleep in the light. I have been known to reach into a room and switch on the light before fully opening the door. Because I might see, what? Darkness? Or what might be in the darkness? Danger, ghosts, things to trip over, stairs to fall down. And that’s fine and normal. I can invite the darkness in a little more with dimmed lights, a sense of shorter days, more sleep. My life is reasonably care-free, and I can give myself that luxury.

Here, at the darkest time of the year, before the light has been reborn, Janelle asks me to consider this womb time, this darkness, as a place of gestation. Can I rest here? Can I stop here to be nourished by the world? And in the darkness inside me, inside my skin, inside my inner womb, what is waiting to be born? 2017 is coming and I am excited about the plans and dreams waiting to be born. There are many. A move to the west of Ireland with my partner; dreams of a cottage by the sea; training as a celebrant; a driving license; trips away with my druid community; plans for regularly hosting druid events in the west.

So here, and now, in this still time, while the world around me is busying itself with the noise and frantic pace of “Christmas”, I am slowing down, taking time to do nothing, and welcoming and allowing the darkness to be here with me, in me, just as I am.
This post is Day one of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice. Facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at