Although the longest night is still to come, we have reached the darkest night of the year. There is a new moon today at noon, London time, and the nights are black and cold.
But, for some, the weeks around Yule are bleak whatever the phase of the moon.
It should be the most magical time of year, when everyone wishes for peace on earth, love and good stuff whether they believe in magic or not. Midwinter, the festival of lights, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, New Year – whatever you like to call the festival at the end of December, pretty much everyone likes to celebrate.
Sadly, the reality is often no party. It is a time when people get into serious debt, when marriages break up and when accident rates - and suicide rates - soar.
For the impoverished, the homeless, those with no family, the elderly living on their own, single parents trapped indoors while everyone else is out having fun, there is little joy. Even for the rest of us, the season for giving can stretch us to our limits.
We might try to make merry, we might even succeed, but that commercialised Coca-Cola image of a jolly Santa making everyone happy has a flip side that is grim, bitter and bleak.
We could do well to remember that - and reject the advertising dream world we are all being sold on the TV, over the internet and in the high streets.
It is sensible to work out what we can afford and stick to that rather than get into debt. No one will mind if we tell our friends that we aren't buying gifts for everyone this year, we are just buying them for children. We don't have to get in enough food to feed the five-thousand - if we are only cooking Yule dinner for a family of four then it is much less wasteful to only buy enough food for four.
And those who are feeling depressed and lonely or who will have nowhere to stay over the festive season should accept that it is OK to ask for help. Charities offering advice and practical support include:
The Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org/
St Mungos: http://www.mungos.org/
Age Concern: http://www.ageconcern.org.uk/
The Citizens Advice Bureau can also offer advice on legal, financial and other problems: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
I hope the festive season is going to be a good one for you but, even if you feel you have no cares in the world, do be sensible - and also spare a thought for those less fortunate.
The Five of Pentacles card pictured above is from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck available from Amazon