Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Renewal

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.
 And...
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.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Onward

 Looking at the quality of light this morning,
Yule seems so long ago.
 
"The door swings open more and more loudly
even though it feels as if it is slamming shut."


Monday, January 1, 2018

Yuletide

 
Today is the first day of the new year.
It is cold yet beautiful in the sun.
The stream is completely frozen on the surface
but quietly running below.
The moon rises large and full and orange and then yellow and then white.
Reflecting off the snow, it is as bright as day.
Even though there is a deep silence,
birds' songs call out and the winds sing the chimes.





Saturday, December 9, 2017

Samhain Remembraces part 2

Today I crunched across the frozen ground and it becomes cold and snows.
There have been no leaves for a while.
I am counting the days until Solstice and the light returns.
It seems like a very long time since then.
Thank you to all who passed through this Samhain season. 
We sure generated a lot of activity and light.
Super helpful in these dark times. 

Community is everything.

Our ritual weekend was a good gathering of many folk,
younger and older and from different parts of our lives.
It was damp but it was warmish,
weather echoing the wyrrd, strange yet welcome.
How it happens is a dance,
Like listening to the birds.
Randomly coming together and circling up.

 Community is everything.

The shift of relationships between before and after,
interwoven inter-generational interactions.
Thoughtfulness in planning and action,
gentle gratitude and communication always helps.

 Do we ever stop mourning/honoring our dead?
Do we ever honor our living enough?

Community is everything.
Our fires were strong and amazing.
And very hot and bright.
It was a great ritual.
I am still smiling in recollection.
Thanks and thanks and thanks again.
Thanks to the ash tree and the magnificent dried grasses.
Thanks to harvests and flowers and fruits.
Thank you summer, you were glorious.
Thank you winter to come.
Thanks for family and friends and family of friends.
Thanks to our ancestors and especially our recently dead.
Thanks to animal companions and wild ones, those around us and those gone on.
Thanks for who we were and who we are and who we will become.
Thanks for great good bounty and blessings.

Community is everything.

Our omens
from our beloved Ancestors: Yera or Jera- a full year's harvest, it relates to the idea of a completed cycle
from the Spirits of Nature & Place: Tir or Tirwaz- Spritual Warrior, has to do with the directional and that direction is up and it has to due with balance and justice and has to do with truth and justice.
In Nature there is truth and trust.
from the Gods & Goddesses: Daguz or Day, that tends to represent high noon or midsummer but from an extreme and interesting viewpoint or vantage point. The apex.
And also when we think of Day we think of accomplishments and our sense of productivity.
for the Season: Sowelu or the Sun, and so we have the sun's journey whether it is the year or the day, it is about following the direction of the sun, it is empowering.
So there was lots of people and lots of love and lots of food and lots of talk.
Activity and rest and reflection and laughter
filling the heart and soul and belly.

Community is everything.





Friday, November 24, 2017

Samhain Gathering of Spirits- part 1


 These warm last-November days belie the winter that is to come.
Now it is the Thanksgiving break and soon it will be Yule.
And Spring and Summer will return even as we welcome the season's end  now.
But first it will be dark and colder.


One turn of the wheel since our brother Earrach moved on to the Ancestors' Realm.
This time when we feel their presence most,
restlessly moving between the worlds as leaves rustling through the trees.
We leave out dumb suppers for maybe a week before Hallowe'en through our ritual day and beyond.
We want these travelers fed, we want our dead to feel welcome.

Preparation seems to be key.
Advance planning, as best as possible, allows for magic to happen.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Seeking balance

We live in times of great imbalance, uncertainty and increasing challenges.
Our small gatherings of quietude and focus seem hardly enough.
Yet maybe they are.
 Sometimes I can take notes after ritual, sometimes I can take more pictures,
and sometimes I just have to soak it in and hope that there is remembrance.

We had been particularly unsettled,
especially due to the passing of our friend Earrach of Pittsburgh.
He got to see the eclipse
but lost his battle
against the diseases that ravaged his body
on the last day of August.
 
His memorial was on the Autumnal Equinox at precisely the stick breaking time of balance.
It was the day after Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
A time to forgive and start again.
We don't travel much at all. It feels safer at home.
Home is where the heart and our hearth is.
But of course we would attend and Bryan would participate, as much more than an obligation
and a compassionate connection, this is what family does.
We bury our dead. We honor our ancestors.
We care for each other in this life as best we can.

We rescheduled our grove ritual from that time. 
Our rites have for years been based on Earrach's calendar which precisely detailed the actual times of Equinoxes and Solstices and the midpoints in between. 
Cake for Earrach by Sandy Batts Starr
There is no need for me to go into the politics of this Druid organization to which we belong,
nor for me to rehash the machinations of those seeking to disrupt old orders.
Suffice to say that while the memorial and Equinox Ritual was powerful and beautiful and honorific
of a great man and his beliefs,
and we hugged many incredible people with so much love,
there was a lot that was hard for us as compassionate folk. 
We are here to honor the gods who give meaning to life.
This beautiful and all too brief life filled with human foibles and folly.


Respect and kindness goes a long way and history is not always to be brushed aside.

photo of the OG priests at ordination in 2002 photo by David Oliver Kling

Bryan and Earrach's widow, the awe-inspiring Diana, fed all of Earrach's broken sticks to the fire. 
Years and years of snapping branches at the precise moment of solar movement or balance. 
Later I discovered more and more sets of sticks around their house.
Perhaps these moments are eternal and ongoing and there is no breaking and no ending.
We drove 7+ hours each way over 2 days with not much sleep or appetite. 
Arriving home exhausted but alive we were greeted by my friends' college-age child
who I helped bring into this world and my almost college-age child.
What is this ever changing life? What is the turning of the seasons?

Fortunately our wise and sensitive grove-sister convinced us to have a day of rest after our return and our Equinox ritual was on Monday afternoon at the time of stick breaking on Friday.
It was like a bookend of time, with the weekend in the middle.
Working hard on balance, being very off-center.
But the house was clean still from before and we had many many many peaches to share.
Maybe small blessings and baby steps is all there is.

She brought a cool friend and our kid drives himself home from school. 
And she came alone with a heavy heart.
All we had to do was be and be together.
It's hard to remember back then, especially as so much global tragedy has happened since.
Our ability to stay focused has been compromised.
Especially in time of illness and stress, time appears to bend strangely or slip away invisibly.
But we had food and snacks and offerings and love and each other and got through.
And now, knowing that he will no longer be reading this blog, nor looking at the pics of our fires
and seeing them and their magic as I see them,
there seems something lost. 
Who is this for, who sees this and cares, why do we share if there is no one to share with.
Still we go on.

our well and our fire-to-be
our sacrifice


 
 

 
 It was a great ritual.
Not the last of the flowers, but the beginning of the end of the flowers.
Sap from the spring from the back of the fridge, our apples and our peaches, 
fat and grasses.
 
Not enough tears for our sadness and pain. 
Not enough laughter for our simple joys and spark and birdsong.
Not enough prayers and silence for our healing.
And never too much gratitude but enough.

Our Omens

 from the Ancestors:Othalla or Odul. It is the sacred enclosure.
That place where we keep our sacred treasures or our precious things.
from the Spirits of Nature and Place:Tiwaz named after the god Tir or truth and trust.
It is directional and balanced.. Honest.
from the Gods and Goddesses: Laguz or Lake. It is that which we draw up from.
The action of drawing up and out and also the well from which we draw from. What comes out of us.
for the Season: Kenaz or the Torch. It's the ability to craft and shape and illuminate. 


 To everything (turn turn turn)
There is a season.