Grey Heron Nights 7: At the still point of the turning world, Old Crane Woman dances

It’s Winter Solstice, and Old Crane Woman is in the bog. She’s standing by a peat-black pool which reflects the solstice moon. Light and dark, dark and light. Old Crane Woman loves the dark. In the dark she can begin to see; too much light can sometimes blind. Love the dark, Old Crane Woman says. It’s where our roots lie buried.


Everybody loves light, Old Crane Woman mutters. Love and light, love and light. Have they never found love in the dark? Everybody loves light; everybody wants to flush out the dark. Shine a light into all the shadows, reveal all the world’s secrets. Spill it all, tell everybody everything. Let no pain go unsung, let no wound remain covered. Light up the night skies and banish the stars. Let nothing remain a mystery.

Love the long dark, Old Crane Woman says. Out of that we are born. This is the Winter Solstice. Celebrate the return of the light, but mourn the retreat of the long dark.

You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything—
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! —
powers and people —

and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Old Crane Woman has faith in nights.

It’s Winter Solstice, and Old Crane Woman has finished her nest. Soon it will be time to lay an egg. Soon it will be time to sit, and hatch. Old Crane Woman knows about sitting. Old Crane Woman has hatched an egg or two, in her time. Grianstad an Gheimhridh: the time when the sun stands still. From the stillness of this Solstice, Old Crane Woman will go to the stillness of her nest.

But first, Old Crane Woman is going to dance.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is …
… Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

TS Eliot, Four Quartets

At the still point of the turning world, Old Crane Woman is going to dance. Watch Old Crane Woman dance. Watch the strange beauty of the Crane Dance.



Old Crane Woman is dancing up a storm. Can you feel the earth tremble? Old Crane Woman is dancing up a storm. Can you feel the river rise? Dance with Old Crane Woman. Dance in the beauty of the long dark. Dance up the return of the light.

11 thoughts on “Grey Heron Nights 7: At the still point of the turning world, Old Crane Woman dances

  1. Beautiful, wonderful. I love the dark, I love it so much I wish I could be nocturnal, there is no comfort in the light for me. As I emerge from the summer solstice to look ahead to several months of dry, blistering heat and light, I mourn the dark that everyone seems to want to shove away and that governments steal by the hour as if they would steal our quiet, our rest, our wild. There’s such magic in the night; in it, we can hear our deep soul voice more clearly. And we can remember how we are wild too, despite our shopping malls and tvs. So thank you for this post, it is a wonderful dark beauty amongst all the bright songs shared this solstice.


    1. Yes, Sarah. When I lived up in the Outer Hebrides, there were four months of the year when effectively I didn’t see the night sky at all. It used to drive me slightly mad, I think. Frantic. Though I love to see things grow and flourish in summer, even now I can suffer from reverse seasonal affective disorder!


  2. How wonderful to honor the dark at this time. I thought I was the only one who mourns at winter solstice for the end of the lovely, long nights.


  3. Reblogged this on Daphne Dukelow Photography and commented:
    After reading the first six of the posts on Grey Heron Nights, I went out the next morning and Great Blue Heron was not where I am used to seeing her but then I almost walked into the two whose portraits follow this post. Please read the whole series of Heron posts at Singing Over the Bones! And enjoy the photos and artwork accompanying them.


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