In keeping with the traditions of Halqueme, the 15th is the day to reflect on a given topic.
After the playful eleventh month—the Mist-Month, the time of games and the lerale of Chaos—comes the twelfth month.
It’s the last month of the year, the one which ends with the Winter Sun, or the Northday, on the year’s longest night. It’s called the Wolf-Month, or, less commonly, the Owl-Month. It’s traditionally associated with the endings, and with the lerale of Death—and the lerale of Death, in turn, is associated with mercy and forgiveness.
An odd association, at first glance.
One part of it is that death is often seen as the end to all suffering, and thus the final mercy. The other part of it—probably the more important part—less to do with the learle and more to do with the Wolf-Month being the darkest month of the year. The one when the winter turns cruel, the wolves come out to hunt, and cooperation between people grows vital if they wish to survive and thrive. And cooperation entails forgiveness and mercy.
Forgiveness especially is encouraged. Carrying resentment, they say, is a heavy burden that causes suffering to the one who bears it.
If I’m honest, I’ve struggled with this. Resentment, to me, has often felt heavy, but it was a heavy shield rather than a bucket of rocks. Resentment forced me to stay away from people who’d hurt me. Resentment kept me safe.
But perhaps I was wrong.
Forgiveness and mercy are different things. Forgiveness is what happens inside our heads; mercy is what happens outside. The dictionary definition of mercy is “leniency shown to the offender” (or: “compassion shown to one in distress”, but that’s a different story). The definition of forgiveness is “ceasing to feel resentment for the offender”.
It’s possible, I think, to forgive a person emotionally and yet stay away from them far enough to remain safe.
And, while sometimes that means cutting all communication, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s enough to head them, to understand why they’ve done what they’ve done, to recognize the common humanity behind it all. And to band together, at least until the wolves cease howling and the days grow longer again.
The artwork for this month is actually a musical clip: the Wolf Song, a cover of a Swedish lullaby by Jonna Jinton. Yes, it’s in Swedish. No, I don’t speak Swedish either. It’s still hauntingly beautiful.