Friday, May 4, 2018

The Balance of Winter & Spring

 It feels like forever since then. It is forever. 
We are now past that time. Past thinking and fearing and now just here.

It felt like Spring would never arrive. We had many more snow days and ice storms and cold weather to hold us back, to keep us quiet, to slow us down. 

But we felt it. Felt it in our spirit, in our hearts in our thoughts and memories.
We saw incremental and tiny changes. 
It felt just right.
We needed the extended Winter, the darkness even as the days grew longer, the not-flowering.
And suddenly we are.

As an aside I offer my deep gratitude to our grove-mates and all the spirits of support and healing.
We would not be so well now, if not for your underlying prayers, wishes and juju.
 I remarked that back then the light seemed new.
And now it is strong in the sky and filling the days until late.
In Winter we take little for granted and as we tip past the balance we come to accept the endlessness of the season.

I pray that we never again take anything or anyone for granted.
That we value each drop of water, each flower and fruit and tree, each breath and each other.
Silence is hard.
So today it is Springlike but yesterday it was hot like MidSummer.
The earth is slightly damp under my bare feet and each day there are new blooms.

Tomorrow is our Beltaine ritual. Happy to dance on the Earth.
I pruned roses this morning, good to let go of the old to enhance positive growth.

Notes from then and pics
a reminder how long ago that balance was.

Cresent Moon
Grove Gathering before
Simple Cleaning-No Fuss/No Fucks
Cold Cold Snow Cold
Coffee and Water and Sap 


New ritual of lighting the fire before as Our Whole Grove.
Just us being.

 I made nothing-all store bought food, all full of gluten.
My energy gone.
She made a giant meal
and our oven became stuffed with goodies.
Sunlight pouring over us all.

Went inside to get baskets of sacrifice.
Everyone arrives almost at once.
Kid comes home from the Federal Reserve
just in time for ritual
with stories of gold
and a bag of shredded money.

Hostessing and timekeeping and culling folks.

Everyone always gathers in the kitchen.
Oddly, one of the least group-friendly rooms in the house.

The gathering was so good.
Cosmic Portals.
Being on the Earth. 
 Old Matzah for the Earth Mother.
Old Dried Apricots for the Directions-many to the East, only one left for the North
Old Petals from my pockets for the Up and Down.

Calling the Outsiders by name- "Illness", "Sorrow", "Fear"
and more.
Asking them to please leave us be.

Bridget of so many Abilities.
Bridget of Song.
Bridget of Words.
Bridget of Fire & Smithcraft.
Bridget of HEALING.

Oils and Sage.
Her offering Bridget Peat.
Each of us seeking Our Balance.
Her finding Bear Scat and a Mushroom.

 Sparking Chia Seeds for our Ancestors with Gratitude
And Prayers for Flowers to come.
The Mysteries of the In-The-Earth.
 Holding the Vervain Stalks in the Leaping Fire.
The Bear's Greens from Winter.
Last Year's last Milkweed (hollow trunks funneling smoke).
One of our three Bunches of Mint.
The Dance of Sweet Grass.

 Prayers for Spring
Peas jumping out of the Earth
Wet Sleeves and Cold Water.

 Our Omens

from our Honored Dead: Berkanu- Birth/Beginning/Birch.
This makes sense.
Especially as we re-centered, thanks ancestors for being here now and for having gone before.
from the Spirits of Nature and Place: Hagal- Hail/Disruption.
We get this a lot. 
And certainly the weather this season was unsettled with extra months of snow and ice.
from the Gods & Godesses: Fehu- Fee/Mobile Wealth/Cattle/Cash.
How do you value something? 
Health is Wealth.
for the Season and the Balance: Ehwaz- Horse/Vehicle/Tool.
What empowered people to get things done, that ability to suddenly make happen, Horse-Power.
The Partnership between the Rider and the Driver
and What's Happening and the Control.

So now all the trees are in bloom and flowers are everywhere.
It seems that hourly new plants and bugs emerge.
I guess the balance is in the doing. 
We are here now.

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.