The Omens of Snow, the Blessings of Fire and Ice

We’ve had some formidable days this bleak and educational February.  I have always found that the shortest month always seems longer than summer and usually attribute it to my birthday in early March. This February has been unduly long and we’ve had the whole of winter in a couple of weeks.

Last week was cold as the proverbial magic-wielder’s mammary and we all worried about the folks in our town who are adamantly homeless. And we worried about our pipes and the iciness of the roads.

There was precipitation this week–the first batch when I was in Raleigh for Women’s Advocacy Day and the second batch last night, in a soft heavy fall of perfect snow. I’ve been itching to be in the gardens–yes, there are three (or maybe four) of them at this point–but we have real winter now. That means writing and baking and finally finishing my expenses for last year.

There is a weariness lingering on me from last week and I believe I’ll need one more night of deep sleep to face the excitement of Birthday Weekend.

But there is a disturbance in the Force, gentle reader.  Are you feeling it?  I often make lengthy pronouncements on Facebook about Tower Time and the importance of grounding.  Facebook has been filled with hurts and griefs and sadness and I indulged in one of those pronouncements, hoping it can act as a kind of benediction.  I share it here for your information:

February has been fraught for so many of us. Yes, there are some astrological reasons for it and there is Tower Time. But here’s the secret–you are resilient, thoughtful, strong. Instead of frantically searching for something or someone to blame, I invite you to switch the paradigm, to give the poor scapegoat some sweet feed and let her go her ways. Then ground yourself, go to your altar, speak with your Ancestors and your gods and get back to work. This is a new time and we have a responsibility to it, to the land and to our species. Do the work you know to do–love deeply, help those who need it, laugh in the face of patriarchy’s decline. Kick it down, burn it up, dance on the ashes.

Time to dance, friends.  Past time.

Imbolc, with the Littles

As you may have gathered from my recent post, I rather love the upcoming holy day and the Divine whom it honors. I want to share with you some of the fun Brigid things we did as my daughter was growing up.  Some of it is old lore made fresh, some of it is new.  I don’t know the difference any more–it is all so deeply ingrained in my knowings around this coming of Spring.  I shan’t give you sources for what I do, except that I do them and have done them for many years.

Imbolc is a wonderful time for children and there are many ways for the Littles to be involved.  On the night before Imbolc begins (which we celebrate as a three-day festival), Brigid travels the wide World, accompanied by a Cow.  She brings blessings to children and to pregnant women and She has many places to visit.  Those good children who love Bridey know that before bedtime they need to do three important things.

First, they must set out a little bed for Her to rest upon.  We always made one from a shoe box.  We’d roll up some soft batting and tuck a cloth napkin around it.  A lace handkerchief made a pretty pillow and a thick cotton washcloth looked much like the cotton blankets we had on our own beds.

The bed was left on the floor, near the heater.  If we had had a fireplace, we could have left it on the hearth. One year, my daughter left a chocolate on Brigid’s pillow–ever the savvy hostess.

The next thing was to leave a bowl of oats out for the Cow.  Plain oats, dry, in a small wooden bowl were what we thought she’d like.  Sometimes a baby carrot was left on top.

Thirdly, a warm rich bottled Guinness was left, usually near the bed. Even a Divine needs a little nourishment as She travels about, blessing the World.

reprinted from 2013 in my Witches and Pagans blog

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Imbolc is Coming

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It’s time now to move all the Brigid stuff from the South altar and honor our gold-red Woman.  We’re big on our Bridey at Mother Grove–She’s one of the reasons we decided to work on creating a Goddess temple here.

Years ago, in the basement of a local metaphysical shop, we promoted a celebration of Brigid of Ireland, Gold-Red Woman.  We wanted to honor Her on Her festival and we weren’t specific about the who of Her.  So we welcomed Pagans and Goddess folk, people who were enamored of Celtic Christianity, Irish-Americans, Catholics, Protestants.

Part of the ritual included pouring milk over a statue of Brigid and that took much longer than we thought it would.  Each person needed their moment with the Divine–for a request or prayer or word of thanks.

That’s when we knew that there was a hunger here–and I suspect in many places–for the chance to be in the presence of the Divine Feminine, to feel the energy, to say those unspoken prayers.  It didn’t matter that some of those people thought of Her as a Goddess while others thought of Her as a Saint.  They knew Her as a wonder-worker with a rich, deep history–a history that included them and their Ancestors and their visions of the world.

Sometime in the next week or so, we’ll take last year’s cloutie branch out to the spring we dedicated to Her years ago.  We’ll make Brigid Wheels from corn husks and shake out our red robes.

Imbolc’s coming.

This was first published on my Witches and Pagans blog.  I thought I’d share it here.

A New Spinster

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I got a wild hair last week and went to my favorite craftish store–Earth Guild–and the kind woman there helped me choose a spindle and a wad of carded wool.  Then I watched my friend Jessica use her drop spindle and watched several YouTube videos.  This led me to a three hour obsessive drop-spindling extravaganza.

Making roving into yarn is a labor of love that requires practice and attention to detail.  I did another couple of hours tonight and finished spinning all the roving I got last week. Then I rolled it off the spindle and into a ball of actual yarn.

It is…somewhat irregular.  The first yard or so is chunky, then it evens out to a fairly regular size.  I’m going to need several more ounces of roving and several more hours of spinning before there’s enough yarn to knit into a hurly-burly beige scarf.  I need to learn some modicum of spinning self-control so I practice for an hour and then leave it be.

Three hours of spinning in one position isn’t good for these old bones.

Friends in Strange Places…Beautiful, Strange Places

Saturday morning, I put on my formal black robe and packed my cords, crown and athame into a carryall.  I switched out my ID, some cash, the phone and a few cough drops into my wee shoulderbag.  Then I headed for the Cathedral of All Souls to celebrate the ordination of my buddy Michael Ashmore to the Episcopal Diaconate.

Angela and I represented Mother Grove and Michael’s supporters included clergy from many places–a Reform rabbi, a Methodist, a Catholic priest, a Presbyterian and others I probably didn’t meet.

The service was somewhat familiar, since I’ve been to a couple of these before.  So many parts of the ceremony are similar to what we do at Mother Grove–and I admit to a fondness for heavy clouds of incense–but there are big differences.  I really can’t sing the songs or pray the prayers but I was there to witness this important ceremony for my friend. There was something liberating and beautiful about the realization that I didn’t need to believe what most of the other folks in that lovely place did in order to part of that moving ceremony.

The reception was nice, too

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New Site Design

New year and time for a new look, I think.  I’ve had that same template since the beginning and I’m feeling a need to freshen up some things.  Now is the time for invention, as we discovered in our Full Moon ritual on Sunday evening.  Let me explain…

It was my turn to do the Full Moon ceremony at Mother Grove Goddess Temple. The priestesses take turns facilitating it, which gives us lots of chances to play around with ritual style and content.  I always prefer to be outside, if possible.  And it was possible.  We’d had a fair amount of rain but it was blessedly clear as we gathered round the fire bowl and waited for the Moon to rise through the boughs of the big, naked oak tree.

I had arrived early in order to get the fire started.  I’m not a natural fire-maker and I need more experience to be more confident of my skills.  When we all arrive together, I always defer to people who are better and quicker at it than I am.  So it’s important that sometimes I do it all on my own. For practice.  I did okay and got it going with not too much effort.  Then I loaded some firewood nearby.

We do different things at different Full Moons.  Sometimes I’m not sure what I’ll do and I leave it all in the lap of the Goddess.  This Moon I named the Moon of Invention…and there group that gathered dove into it with enthusiasm.  We decided that “intention” is overused these days and begins to feel a bit passive.  Invention feels more creative, more active.  And, frankly, more fun.

How are you reinventing yourself for the new year? Made promises about less booze, more exercise, a better writing schedule?  No, wait, that’s me.

What is yours?

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We All Are Here! We All Are Here! All Manner of Goods Things Will Come to Us Now!

My friend, Beloved Crone Antiga, is an ancient Songstress.  When we are in circle together, we often ask her if she has a song–and often she will chirp–“I have a song”–in the slow moments in a ceremony or discussion.  The lines in the title of this post belong to one of the songs we often sing as we come together.

It’s 2015–we all are here.  I’ve been working on the chapter in my new book that covers the concept and uses of liminal time.  To be considering that as the culture strides through the welcoming of a “new year” has been very fruitful and very interesting.  I have been having vibrant and informative dreams as I think about the usefulness of liminal time.  Last night I dreamed of an entire day-long retreat revolving around the lore of Brigid.  And I woke, remembered, went to the computer and created a Facebook page for the retreat. As of this writing, the retreat is almost filled.  By trusting my instincts, and using the energy of this powerful liminal time, we’ll all have a deep experience to herald the coming of earliest spring.

We all are here.  The last few years have been shaped by this Tower Time thing and we are often overwhelmed by the size of the crises and also by the way they seem to loom suddenly, strike hard and fast, and then swiftly retreat, tsunami-like. That has left some holes in our collective Self, I think. Holes that can be mended collectively, too.

We all are here.  We can use this Full Moon coming up as a Moon of Intentions.  I’m leading a Full Moon ceremony for Mother Grove on Sunday night and we’re going to set personal intentions for the calendar year.  With luck—and a dearth of predicted rain–we may even get to do that while huddled around a bright and hopeful fire.

We all are here.  All manner of good things will come to us now. Let’s put some energy behind that, shall we?  We’ll embrace the richness and joy of life, for a change, and leave behind some of the anxiety of these changing times.

All manner of goods things.

 

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