Weekend Meditation

The Violet Hour

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

“This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.”
from The Hour by Bernard DeVoto

The violet hour, that time of day roughly starting at 5pm when cocktail hour begins and we start the transition from day into evening, from work to home, from labor to (hopefully) relaxation. Unicorns spotting or not (I’ll have what he’s having!) it can be a magical time, especially if there is some deliberateness, some sense of ritual in your actions. The violet hour doesn’t have to involve alcohol, of course, although it is nice to make an effort and concoct something special to drink.

A ritual is nothing more than a (semi) subscribed series of movements that help us to mark a specific time, usually a transition. Rituals help us to register and appreciate these transitions which are normally a tricky time for people, even positive ones like marriage and birth. And even ordinary transitions like moving from work time to home time, or from day into night, can benefit from being marked and noted and, potentially, even celebrated.

What you need to create a violet hour at home is simple and straightforward (see list below.) But what’s most important is the mind with which you enter into this experience. The violet hour is a chance to put down our mental and emotional defenses and just experience the moment which will almost always be offering you something to appreciate.

Here’s how I build A Violet Hour at the end of my day:

Something delicious and special to drink (with or without alcohol.) As previously stated, it’s nice to create this drink then and there, from scratch. You may be tempted to just reach for whatever is closest at hand and of course that is just fine. But for some, it’s the same drink every day no matter what and this sameness create a steadiness that supports the ritual. Of course even cracking open a beer can be transcendent given the right mindset but keep in mind that the physical movements of creation help to facilitate the magic, so the small effort of mixing a drink is often well worth it.

A nice glass to drink it from. This is perhaps extra, but still, it’s good to have your experience supported by beauty, so hopefully a nice glass isn’t too difficult to manage.

Music. This is also extra, but for the same reasons as above, consider adding music to your violet hour, in service of beauty and soulfulness. An open window, or a fire in the fireplace, or a back porch or balcony, or a comfortable chair are also worth seeking out. Setting is important.

Company in the form of a spouse or friend is nice but not necessary. When I was a child, I would sometimes join my parents in their early evening cocktail ritual. A glass of Seven-Up in hand, I would sit with them in the living room and listen as they exchanged the stories of their day. I can still see my father with this vodka and tonic, his long legs bent at the knee and my mother sitting on the sofa with her legs tucked underneath her, the ice rattling in her glass. I don’t remember the particulars of their words, but I was obviously imprinted by their ritual of coming back together after the day spent apart and the importance of rebuilding their intimacy through this quiet talk. Clearly (and fortunately,) I was introduced to the violet hour at an impressionable age.

But it’s true, too, that this can be good alone time, especially if your day is spent dealing with a lot of people, crowded commutes, numerous obligations. The violet hour can be a time to celebrate aloneness and how delicious that can feel. The quiet, the stillness, the coming back into yourself.

Cellphone turned off. TV and computer, too. (Absolute requirement. No exceptions.)

The gift of the violet hour is that we give ourselves a break from the relentless activity of adult life and sink into the quiet glow of just being. Even busy people can surely allow for the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to sip a drink and let the day slowly roll off the shoulders. But hopefully there’s a little more time than that to renew and reflect, and to enter into communion with the deepening shadows and the magic that is rustling there.

(Image: Dana Velden)