Sunday, February 25, 2018

Imbolc Time

The days are so much longer now; it is easier to be alive.

This season has been a roller-coaster of weather rushing towards an early Spring.
Freezing days followed by summer days followed by snow and then rain.
Bulbs are poking through and birds begin to sing
and when the sun is out it is strong and rises close to due East.
When Imbolc arrived, we gave a collective sigh of relief and said "FINALLY!"
Though the Winter was not particularly terrible or long, there was a real cabin fever going around.
Bridget, with her healing gifts, her bardic and smithcraft skills, her passion and pain,
reminds us that we are still here.
We made it to now.
We have done this before though each time is a bit different as we are different.
Back then it was icy and cold but sunny with a fresh light layer of snow.
We had placed our Bridget's cloth out in the crisp night before with bright with stars
and by morning it was covered with ice crystals shining in the sun.
We tore it together into pieces inside next to the warmth of the stove
spraying ice like dust or glitter.

The giant bowl that is often our well had blown down overnight into our fire pit.

He built a nest of Yule greens and leftover Yule sticks
for our fire.
Later, us three, as the OG Our Whole Protogrove,
lit and tended it to life.

Magic before magic, each act is a ritual of sacrifice and devotion and gratitude.

fire, well & tree

  Burning to almost nothing coming back inside a stick structure intertwined like clasped hands.

Writing from this side of February, almost done with this longest shortest month,
it is hard not to skip ahead.
But then, we were just beginning to come up for air,
to see tiny buds forming on stark branches,
to blink at the sunlight as if the brightness was foreign and forgotten.

At first it seemed like just a few of us, and then more and more folks said they would arrive.
My notes say:
sleeping & hosting
enough time to clean/sunlight showing all the dust
new refrigerator and kitchen clearing
Hosting is balance.

I remember coming home the night before in the snow on the last day of a long week
with take out for dinner.
I remember needing to stop doing.
There had been a lot of upheaval and motion and change,
as we moved out of the frozen winter.

Bridget is about the breaking of the ice.
Sometimes you just need to listen to it crack.
 Having the day to organize, to plan, to eat, to set up
allowed me to breathe.
Breathing is good.
Cleaning is good.
Acceptance of the present is good.

Finding an old Core Order of Ritual from an Imbolc of years and years ago
to update and share
reminded me of the procession to our Bridget shine
and of our practice of lustration- not as "purification"
but more like an awakening, a greeting of the self.

So we brought a bowl and a towel out by the brook
and we processed there to start ritual.

But first people arrived, some early and some on-time and some late into the pre-rit rant.
Almost not enough chairs, but for the wandering and snacking.
Trying to share what happens when for folks who may not know, not to all dance the same step,
but so there is no dis-comfort, no out-of-order,
no mis-understanding.
Finally starting, gathering, processing, circling, settling.

My notes are sparse, but the joy was plentiful.
The fire spoke volumes.

Thinking of how many people were in a circle around the fire:
the 3 of us (him, me & the kid) and our dear Grove partner,
a friend of the kid's and their mom,
my dear young goddess sister and a coworker who is the partner of another young sister
who has now shared holidays with us
for a whole cycle of the year,
him and her with their instruments and intent,
and last but certainly not least-them.
Lucky 13.
Plus Bridget.
And the rest of our Kindreds.
And friends not here in person but invoked in name or heart.
And the Birds.

Our sacrifice was the stuff from the depths
of the old refrigerator,
(forgetting the ancient local bacon in the freezer),
and our wreaths,
and kerplunking coins found among the many pockets,
and her words read from a screenshot,
and prayers of deep gratitude spoken or not
for the coming renewal.

My notes say:
He saw a deer
Bridget fell towards but not into the fire

Flaming oil

Just being normal
intergenerational goodness

Bunches of mint and bundles of last year's garlic for final sacrifice.


even though he is no longer around reading this blog,
I still post fire pics for him to see. 
Earrach, I made this big for you

Hear and answer us we pray.
Honor us as we have honored you.
 From our Ancestors: Elhaz- elk-sedge or protection,
pay attention, be alert
From the Spirits of Nature and Place: Uruz, the primordial Ox, the crazy strength below
From the Gods & Goddesses:Berkanu or Birch, beginnings or birth and rebirth
From Bridget and the Season: Kenaz or torch, the illuminator, the fire brand or shaper.

Cold waters to drink, pouring over our hands,
lapping up the blessings.
Thrice around the circle through Bridget's girdle,
if you wanted and how you wanted.
A jump or a shimmy or a step and a hop.

The light turning blue while we were laughing.

We invited Bridget in and feasted.

 Lots of cheese, lots of tea, lots of breads and cupcakes,
vegetarian side dishes and soup,
and that pie.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Solstice Morning Sunrise

Notes and images from then,
which can never recreate what was,
only how we feel now remembering.

 The time warp of the end of the year
is days and energies
moving fast like rapid earthquakes or waves we have to surf.
It is also standing together in the dark outside, silently crunching ice.
And also the magnificent light of freezing dawns.

I remember making much fried chicken the night before and there were lots of sweets already,
and doing chores effortlessly and preparing for folks,
folks who we didn't know and those we did
and not sure of the weather.
We were being easy and gentle with our selves and our plans;
the heaviness surrounding us requires simplicity.

The morning weather was bad, not just a pounding rain but a cold & icy rain.
Roads were ok, other surfaces melting but not conducive to reverence and peace.
But we were warm inside and had plenty to eat and cleared space
and we decided ritual would be best in the living room.
Bryan brought up his world tree from his shrine in the basement.

She came early as Our Whole Grove
and we discussed structure and worship and groups and we ate.

 And people arrived and festivities began
with much merriment around each new guest.
And finally she arrived with a still warm loaf of freshly baked bread.
A full house of folks and family and food and feasting and refilling of plates.
round like the sun

 and now almost 4 weeks later I fry chicken again.
it snows and it will snow all night.
we loose track of days,
though there was extreme cold, then extreme warm
and then temperature drop of a whole season in one night,
ice breaking up the frozen bare earth,
now covered again in a blanket of white and silence.
We sleep a lot. The cocoon is strong.
Often memory plays tricks, it is a time of transition.

  So I started to break down our sacrifice of fir and dried garlic stalks and sweet grass
into small sprinkles for over the world tree rather than large bunches for spectacular fire.
  But the rain stopped and it was just above freezing.
He pleaded to make fire outside. And I made him ask Bryan, who skeptically said "sure".
I reminded him it was a sacred fire and a gentle fire
and then thoughtfully and gently
and with the fried fat soaked paper towels and dry tinder
a fire was born outside
in the mistfall of mid-afternoon.
We changed gears and gathered sacrifice and jackets and shawls and moved outside.
It is important to say what you need and want.
We are human and forget and need to be flexible.
well of ice

Meditation barefoot on cold wet ground until my feet burned.
Star-shaped cookies for the directions, up and down and to the glass in the center.
No things for the portals other than our focused attention.
Chicken fat for the outsiders, her and me halfway away nodding "yes".
Chicken grease for the Kindred.
Pine from our tree.
Sticks from her, unused at Samhain.
Her coin and song for Bridget. 
old fruits and berries.
Sour sweets too.
Our ash tree logs for the hot fire in the cold rain.

 Here's to the Truth.
And the Ho Ho Ho.
 songs of truth and silences of truth and prayers of gratitude for being here and for the future.
   and sometimes I do not know what happens or where we go, consumed by fire and smoke and opened like the portals.

our omens
from our Honored Dead: Laguz the rune of the Lake, drawing up from below. That which is quenching and nourishing. Thinking about what our Honored Dead are dredging up, thinking about what we we have been brought up with, thinking about what we can draw upon from our ancestors.
from the Spirits of Nature and Place: Perthro the Lottery Cup, chance or luck. Thinking about how lucky we are to live in a place of such beauty and bounty, thinking about the luck of being here now, thinking about the good fortune buried in the sleeping earth.
from the Gods and Goddesses: Mannaz or Self. Thinking about ourself and our selves and our humanness as opposed to Godliness and striving for our shining self.
for the Season: Hagal or Hagalaz, the rune of Hail of destruction, but perhaps disruption of an old path and the beginning of a new one. Thinking about this season of the return of the light disrupting the dark- displacing the dark and the fierceness of the new day. Thinking about hailstorms and the summer and snow in the winter and atmosphere and compression of air and water and spirit. Thinking about the unexpected and weather and storms. 

and with that in mind we share our cold waters spilling over onto each other and the earth.
 The fire ended as it began.
Bird songs with the final chimes.

This rite is over and let the feasting continue.
Our magical fire in the cold and damp burned throughout the night.
In the morning I thrust my hand into the ashes and found them not cold but not warm
but Bryan
with his focus and breath
brought the fire back to life
burning throughout the next day.

 I sat in the wintry air by the new flame from old and buried embers 
and wrote this story by hand on ledger paper.
So it's hard to take pictures and to be observational and there at the same time
and it's hard to remember too.
We continue through this cycle of seasons and years
lighting our fires, rekindling our flames after they grow cold,
again and again offering gratitude as best we can,
hoping not to forget, to love enough, to listen and to hear,
to share well and to be ok. 
I am unsure often and there is so much I miss,
but I know it was good and we are alive and here now.