Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice - Dark and Snowy

Where to begin? Before the first shoveling or all the way back to the ice storm?

Fire in the snow.

Hudson made the first tunnel to the fire circle which had been sort of protected by a sun umbrella from the full blast of the snow. The fire pit was like the Nematon because it was a well inside a mound of snow. Bryan carved the mound and dug a passage to the center.

[First it seemed that, despite the snow, many folk might show up and then, in the end, it was just us Perrins. We missed you but it felt good, simple, and somehow seasonal having a family ritual - a single cup for the waters, our only timeline: the sun.]

Think about the cold and the snow and the darkness. The blue quietude of dusk. Stretching to the North, listening to the stream, singing to the stars.

We are here to honor the gods.

Feel yourself on this earth not yet fully frozen, still, in parts, malleable. Wine on the earth mother like blood, spiced tea on the earth mother like mud. Center and smile.

Breathe in like you are sucking a peppermint, feel the cold filling your lungs, feel the coolness as you exhale, feel the roof of your mouth. Feel a small star shining just above your head, breath in and feel the light from that star coming down into you and breathe out and feel the warmth from deep in the Earth rising up. Feel these energies mixing in your belly.

Our well of ice, like a scrying crystal- the hot cider pooling across the surface in these transdimensional cloud shapes. Our tree- the old Yule tree that still hasn’t burnt through lo these many fires and our fire a mere flame- a cauldron of burning bark and dried herbs and a candle for light. Manannan, opens the gates and the fire is alive, we stand straighter as the tree grows within us and the well is dark and light at the same time.

The flame, almost a memory for the ancestors sacrifice, catches the sage for the spirits of nature and there was some far off howling at the same time- what’s up with that? And then just as suddenly the bowl of fire appears to go out and the only flame is the candle, perhaps like your candle at home. It was not much past 5 o’clock.

Trying to light dried sunflower heads- almost putting out the candle, a sudden flame a bunch of sparks in the snow, the burning flower dropping and staying alight in the snow- what’s up with that? A bunch of dried lemon balm for the Gods and Goddesses flaring up and then all the flame and the candle suddenly smothered and then there was only the dark brightened by the snow.
But the center cauldron still had a glow of embers and Bryan blew the embers to spark. Showers of sparks, fountains of smoke, orange like a volcano. His breath alone wasn’t enough. Hudson called us to blow altogether on the fire. Our combined breath, became one -the smoke billowed - one more breath and then the flame came back full and bright. Big fire in a small bowl. Our collective breath as the final sacrifice for the season.
I had to howl.

I am now thinking about that birthing that final moment before the sunrise before the turning of the year.
The time of the mothers.
Interesting to think of that the deep darkness of gestation that is winter and all around us is this deep white of quiet that is winter and all around us.

Our omens shaken out from the turtle shell in darkness, Bryan using his breath to give flame to the embers long enough to read each one.
From the Ancestors: Raido- communication, the circuit that makes the connection that makes things go.
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Ehwaz – horse or the partnership between horse and rider, the working together
From the Gods & Goddesses: Birkana- birch or birth or new beginnings
For the Season: Fehu – fee (or falalalalalala or fee fi fo fum or ho ho ho), what things cost, or just plain money.

Our fire was exhausted and I relit our candle from the one inside the house, lit in silence and brought to all the dark corners of our home (as you did in yours), and now which illuminated our otherwise unlit house. I walked with gratitude back outside and found that with the candle I couldn’t see, so bright was its flame. I had to hold it away from me to light my way.

And the waters were blessed and extra cold and we each drank thrice and the Earth Mother had some as well.

Feeling the blessings, rekindling the fire, burning the flowers and seeds of this past year, breathing in and blowing out.

As special thanks to Manannan, Hudson offered a roller skating gingerbread man for always opening and closing the gates for us and being there for us – protector, guide, gate keeper, god, companion, friend.

And thanks to the Gods and Goddesses, the spirits and honored dead and the spirits of this season- fat jolly elves, reindeer and sprites. The mothers, the dark and the light. Bridget, and our Earth Mother.

Breathe in the cold, go inside and get warm.

And then also (when I had gone to rekindle our flame) Bryan had pulled Ogham (Celtic Tree Alphabet) sticks as oracle. Those omens also so very appropriate-
From the Ancestors: Hazel or wisdom
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: the Elder or Regeneration
From the Gods & Goddesses: the Grove
For the Season: the Sea or the tides coming and going, which is Manannan

Glad Tidings!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Full Moon, Samhain Memories and the Sun Rising

The other night I walked outside and the glow from the moon behind the clouds was stark white, whiter than white, white as ice. This weather of bitter cold, alternating with warm rain and then winds and then the freezing sleet that took down many power lines is maybe a last trick of the season as we head into deep winter.
Our Samhain gathering was beautiful and cold. Bryan had created a huge pyre at the 5 circle fire and surrounded it with the last apples from our trees. As I look at the pictures now I am struck by the vibrant color- the yellows and oranges, a bit of green and many shades of brown or brown/orange. I am moved by the dance of the dead limbs and leaves. Now there is grey and brown/grey and no leaves at all.

We ringed the big circle with candles, there were candles in the 3 parts of the Nematon, Bryan carved amazing pumpkins for sacrifice, and I gathered things that would burn -leftovers from the garden, fully harvested by this holiday’s end.

The moon was a sliver. We’d of course been leaving out dumb suppers for days. The spirits were about. And the cold and wind were so deep; we decided to do ritual at the small fire circle-we struggled to make a fire in the pit near the house, and Elizabeth showed up and brought the fire to life. We toasted our new (Our Whole) Protogrove and us as a group and toasted ourselves and the year.

Aunt Lisa came and Susan called and we just stayed warm and ate Elizabeth’s food and waited until dark. And then Gwen and Susan arrived and we got it together and bundled up and started.

I remember we talked a lot before the holiday of the exhalation and our meditations reflected this- the sigh, the cackle, the wind.

We didn’t offer votes, just truth, and flame and sacrifice and prayers.

And gratitude as the flames leapt from and through and around the pumpkin. Consuming our harvest, ending the year, clearing the way for the empty dark- this time of going within, renewal and preparation.

Our Omens for the season were:
From the Ancestors: Oss/Ansuz or Voice-
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Perth or the Chance, the Lottery Cup the dice cup
From the Gods & Goddesses: Mannuz- the self
For the Season: Sowilo or the Sun

So there you have it. Was it all true?
I know I have needed to breathe and especially exhale these last weeks. Sometimes it seems hard to catch my breath, not like I am out of breath but that there has been so much to breathe in.

A blanket of white covers everything. It is cold. Suddenly complete winter. But the light soon returns.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

where has the time gone

with the snow on the ground now it looks like winter. I can hardly remember Samhain now, so greatly am I anticipating the coming of Yule.