winter is here, like winters we haven’t had in a while. Cold, white, frozen. I welcome this weather, this real winter, grandmother with her blanket of quietude.
there is a coloration to winter foreshadowed at the equinox when the sky deepens its blue and at Samhain when clouds are high up and feathered. Now it all comes together, with short days of slanted light, the starkness of the landscape and the full moon brightness of the night snow. Days have a quality like afternoon tea, glimpses of fading time moving quickly. Catch the day while it is here the nights are long and the winds howl.
New Year, new day.
Time moving from the brackets of “holidays” to the length of winter to spring.
The stream moves but there are icicle falls. It is the only sound other than the wind.
Our rituals are events on many levels. Gatherings of friends from this world and other-worldly friends. Time for simple gratitude and clearing and also for facilitating group work. And there is the family thing.
Our boy is 12, celebrating the holidays since before his birth, and yet still often awkward in ritual. Perhaps we are all always so. At least he is fairly respectful, but as our family-friendly Grove requests parents to be mindful of their children, I am here as host, participant and Mom. Perhaps we are all always so.
The children. The magic and evolving spirit of the young ones. Maybe we are all children or certainly we all were once children. The magic of the stars and the joy of being with our friends never gets old, though our bodies may slow and creak.
The elves are still here, and the stories are told and retold.
One foot in the memory, one foot forward.
Trance of winter, introspective fire, messages in the ice.
If you look you can see much.
So many new people, focusing on the time changing rite.
the crystalline blue white of tonight is not like then, but started on that night, that Mother’s Night of flame and snow.
So I made the fire in the cleared out fire pit, triangles with overlapping diamonds of sticks newly down from the season and lit in each of the directions with prayers.
Still it was the leftover shingles that caught as always and as always with a prayer of protection for our fine house covered in those same shingles.
And then the tripod of small logs and carrying more logs backway to the wood pile again and again until there were 12 around the fire.
The fire grew and throughout the night consumed all but 3 logs now mostly buried for the winter in the south, west and north.
We live here in most sacred land, magic welcomed and spirits honored. So grateful to tend to chores, to make food, to gather wood and tend the fire in peace.
May it be so for everyone.
May we be at peace. May our travels in the snows be safe and may we have time to stay home quietly not traveling in the snow.
May it be so for everyone.
Popcorn. Popcorn. What we gather around.
Good company as we all arrive and meet and settle.
The clinking wine goblets of 3 goddesses in my kitchen, the wandering of restless children and the random voices of adults.
The blessed fire outside and a table of amazing food inside.
Pre-rit for both the holiday and Order of Ritual, everyone in the living room, sitting this way and that, coming or going or pacing, and then and then. Pizza for the outsiders? Pizza? Gluten-free pizza, it’s the holidays.
Many spirits, joyous elves, the Mothers. the Sun.
We gather blankets and pillows and get a jacket on and shawls and gloves and settle about the fire.
The far off outdoor light glowing blue like the snow soon to be here.
The fire strong and bright.
We are here to honor the Gods, Gods who give meaning to life.
Chinese herbs leftover from healing and bundles of dried herbs from the summer still lying in the kitchen cauldron or on the hearth and last year’s mint sirops and ghee and honey and holiday foodstuffs like our gingerbread cookies or a homegrown gourd or fractal Romanesco broccoli or a clementine and of course a beer. And that gluten-free pizza for the outsiders.
Who are the outsiders? these monsters our children battle in video games, virtual other-worldly enemies? those who we do not wish to forget but do not wish to invite in? necessary evils like ice or anger? Distracting energy?
Smudge clear, smoke of purification and smoke of the fire, wind directing us.
Our dear Earth Mother, circle around the fire, uphold and support us.
The directions of the Sun and Moon and seasons and winds and qualities.
Centering us down on this earth, this sleeping earth, with the stream rushing in the background and the cold in our faces and fingers.
So many friends around the fire, the embers glowing strong and hot and mesmerizing.
Children wrapped in blankets or arms, settling in.
Packages dropped off at the roadside by UPS.
Holidays are the laughter in synchronicities.
That which goes down below where the waters gather, beneath the frozen earth is our sacred well. Our copper pot from a neighbor, shiny and cold with fresh mint leaves. That which goes up, up like our spine, which connects the above and below, years old Christmas tree adorned with the sun chimes, our vertical and sacred tree. And that which consumes, glowing and warm, our sacred fire.
Insiders, Gates, Outsiders, Kindreds. Where we are and who we are and our gratitude for all this being.
Sticky sirop and dried boughs, stumbling and mixing and joining in the fire. Jumbling around with fire tending and people moving and keeping warm. Thanks always thanks.
And then final sacrifice: cedar and pine and summer’s stalks bound. Stepping back instinctively and guarding the child as the flames shot 8 feet or more into the darkness.
Omens in the dark, just right with sparks in the sky. Yeah!
from the Ancestors: Raido-communication
from the Spirits of Nature & Place: Eihwaz- the spindle or death’s crook, the axis on which we all revolve/evolve
from the Gods & Goddesses: Berkanu- Birch, new beginnings, birth
for the season: Jera- the harvest, the year
Our waters, once boiling now freezing in wine glasses enough exactly for each.
the gratitude of food, offered from our hearts with love.
this rite is now over and let the feasting begin.
coming inside to feed the children first and then us. Piled plates slipping on the sticky floor, stacks of napkins, cornbread and chili, breads and sauces, pumpkin and salads and so many sweets and sweet conversations.
And then we saw the snow, lots of it, everywhere.
Quickly gathering ritual stuffs, feed the fire alone in the heavy snow.
Go home safely and now to all who do not always drive a road like ours.
And then quietly cleaning all the dishes and the kitchen back to normal.
Heavy rains came late after inches of snow, washing everything away by morning and flooding the land. Rivulets down our walkway, the stream roaring, ground soaked.
Slate cleaned, energies calmed, sun returns.
New world begun in peace and joy.