In my best dreams I have a Coven or a Grove or some other earthy, magical group that I spend these days with. We celebrate, we eat, we drink, we share and care. But, alas, I remain a solitary solider in a world that doesn't understand why certain days, times of the year, ideas, feelings, or places mean so much to me. Or have a much different meaning than they do to them.
Life as a solitary child of the Universe requires a certain amount of self motivation. It is kind of like going to the gym. Most people need a buddy. Spiritual buddies are harder to find than gym buddies.
But, still, here we are at the beginning of the Dark Season and I am humbled by Nature. I am awed by it and the process of the turning of this wheel we watch, touch, feel moving through our lives. It is always surprising to me that despite my loathing of winter and even while dreading its icy grip, the time between Samhain and Winter Solstice is absolutely magical for me.
I feel so in tune with myself and close to the earth. I want to lie in the leaves and feel frost on my face, breath in that smell of decay from the season before and know that the Hush is coming. I want to prepare like the squirrels and be ready for the darkness.
Nothing that mattered before matters during this magical time. Things slide away and move to the basement of myself where they should be. So connected, so in tune with my own heartbeat, so clear is the drum that I dance to all by myself. The road to darkness is almost like a trip away from everyday for me. I feel like I can reflect. I feel as if I understand. Yes, Universe, I "get" it ~ even as the whispers from my soul are quietly speaking, I hear her loud and clear.
I am a creature on fire. There is a dragon by my side and he fuels my spirit. Nothing matters. Nothing but the stairway to the longest night. Walk it well, drink in the ritual that we have lost and make it whole again. On padded feet and through the hooves of deer I feel the earth beneath me and I know...I know that I am a part of it all. I'm connected to this journey and can touch magic, even if only for these brief moments as we descend.
I covet a life in which I can open my heart and listen. Listen without worries of inconvenience and fear of what could happen in the bleak winter to come. I want to touch the seasons and be loved by them and love in return. I want to explore the colorful woods, listen to the chatter of busy squirrels, long to touch the velvet horns of deer, feel the crisp spark of the first frost and be mesmerized by falling snow. I want these things for my peace of mind and for my weary soul.
Right now there is a Chickadee on my windowsill. Looking at me with expectant eyes. He will be here for the seasons to come, without fail, visiting the feeder for breakfast and greeting the day, however short and cold, with the chatter of a happy little bird. I want to capture his tiny spirit and borrow his mirth.
Octavia bless me with willingness as I stand in the threshold of your doorway. Wrap me in the colors of your love and the cool, crisp breath of your soul. Teach me to let go of the rope that binds me to the shore, take my foot from the shallow water of the season and instead, jump. Jump into the swirling red and gold shimmering around me, breath in your promise of darkness, secrets and renewal. And rest. Always rest, of which there never seems to be enough.
Make me unafraid of the winter that approaches, warm me by the fire of the Solstice bright and take me through the bleakness on the road to Imbolc. Keep me in spirit and pull me up when I fall, as I will surely fail as many times as I succeed. Give me hope and remind me that the wheel turns, always.
It isn’t really a “grass is greener” philosophy but more of a gypsy worldview. And it is a fairly accurate description. I spend so much time “up in my head” and not always in a philosophical way. For me, my head IS where my heart is. My feelings are so quickly formulated into thoughts, contemplation, evaluation, processing, then conclusion. I don’t need to travel the world. I do need to travel where my soul takes me and that includes a good deal of meandering, exploring both the inside of me and the immediate outside world. I was reading an article yesterday, sort of a rambling diary about a woman and moving forward toward a life (or away from something in life) and I commented that I found a lot of it to be accurate in terms of feelings, struggle, life itself, making excuses, fear and moving on (in whatever capacity one is settling in life).
But, the problem was you got ¾ of the way through it and like most other articles I have seen I think it started to promise some kind of sudden awakening and "boom everything is better now" ending. I have issues with this. It is like (my BF and I were discussing this the other day) those articles on “embracing being single” that end up telling you how to meet the “true love of your life”. And then another article a bunch of us were discussing on FB yesterday regarding the approach of doing the mechanics of the Craft, sort of in “crash course” style, without getting to the heart of the matter of being a witch. And I am digressing I guess with examples but the point is that everything seems to be based around not only the quickest route to something, anything, whether it be magical practice, finding a mate or happiness.
And let’s discuss “happiness” for a moment. The truth is, in life, there are no fairytale endings. No matter who you are, where you are, who or what you leave, there is still, and always, struggle. No one decision is rarely a complete, life changing, all is better now scenario. There are often cons to the pro of any decision and deeming "happiness" the ultimate destination is really, really Disney inspired. Unless we have the capability of stopping time in a moment of bliss, complications will find us. That is the world we live in. I’m not so sure it ever wasn’t the world we live in, it is just that people settled more often than not. Life is a series of experiences. Hurt doesn’t go away because you leave one situation and enter another. Love is often found and more often than not, lost somewhere in the process of getting through each day, month, year. People rarely change in the same way or at the same rate but we do change, constantly IF we are growing and feeling and exploring our true selves. Fear, conformity, responsibility are all factors to varying degrees. Oceans are vast and sometimes, unfortunately, so are our feelings, emotions and ramifications of our choices throughout life.
As someone who has lived with atypical depression since childhood, (BTW can you believe there are so many types of depression? I mean what does that say about our world?), I am very used to my “feelings” sort of free-flowing on the daily. Is this why I find the rhetoric in some of these articles and the approach of “quick-fix” life these days so incredibly short-sighted? I mean, just this morning I have already experienced three distinct “moods” that could easily set the tone for my day and I’ve only been awake for two hours! My goal each morning is to grab the best mood I can and nurture it. It is exhausting, frankly, but again, life doesn’t freeze-frame for anyone. If it did we’d all stay at our favorite vacation spot indefinately!
There is this country song. I know, I know but bear with me because it just sums up why I think these sorts of articles are just way off base…
A guy walks into a bar, orders a drink
Sees a girl that catches his eye
Asks her if she wants another
They fall for each other and end up lovers
They laugh, cry, hold on tight, make it work for a little while
Then one night her taillights fade out into the dark
And a guy walks into a bar...
See? Life. That’s how it goes folks.
TWANG TWANG TWANG
I first noticed it as a kid after having been bullied for quite some time in the 2nd or 3rd grade. By the time the bully and her crew had stopped focusing on me, moved onto someone else and suddenly it was permissible for me to be "accepted" I JUST.DID.NOT.CARE. If there would have been a *rolls eyes* social media sign back then I would have sent it to her. It was empowering at the time, to realize that mean people didn't really matter.
My "I don't care" detachment gene has guided my soul on many occasions. At one social work type position in my very early career I remember telling my supervisor I was seeking other employment. She was sorry to hear that because I had been a great employee. When she asked why I said it was because I realized that I just don't care about the people I'm supposed to be helping. She was a bit taken aback, but agreed that it was certainly time for me to move on. I laugh about it now but the look on her face was sort of a well, aren't you a heartless one inner gasp. To which I thought pffffftttttttt....I.JUST.DON'T.CARE.
Sometimes I wonder if it is the people factor. In general I just don't care about people. I think that (overgeneralization of the day) mostly, people create their own drama and messes and then they want others to care. And that actually, normally their drama and messes create drama and messes for the rest of us so why should we care? The other factor is that I tend to track out stuff on my own inner does this matter in the BIG picture? calculator and most things just come up with a negative result. Of course, that could simply be because I.DON'T.CARE.
Besides the people factor there is certainly some situational baggage involved. Someone stated to me the other day that I am really no longer a "recreation professional" and that what I do at this point toggles between running for office and sitting on a witness stand being cross examined on a daily basis. I had to agree with her, at which point I thought that it was no damn wonder that I JUST.DON'T.FUCKING.CARE.
I think that sometimes it is a shame that the further we climb that so called "ladder of success" the less time we spend doing what we love, or in my case, what is at least tolerable. On the other hand, is caring a myth? I mean, lots of people I'm sure go to places of employment that they don't care about. It is a means to an ends. I think maybe that's what work used to be and that now somehow we have gotten the idea that we deserve to love what we do. Could that be it?
Maybe we have gotten that idea though because we realize that life is too short to not care. Maybe those who keep seeking something to care about keep seeking it for a practical reason and that reason is that time is limited. Too limited to JUST.NOT.CARE.
Hmmmmm...interesting Sunday morning coffee discussion if nothing else.
I'm finding myself so out of practice on many things. Guitar is only one of them :( as at one point I had gotten to where I could almost strum a song. Almost. I tried to do it last night and my fingers were like "huh? We don't bend that way lady" and so I find myself starting completely over, just strumming cords over and over and over and...
It is frustrating, yet I guess that is just life. Everything takes practice. I mean, everything from the moment you wake until you drift off at night has been learned and has evolved from practice. Like, ladies that shave your legs, what happened the first time you shaved? Yeah, you cut yourself! The first time you drove a car (hopefully you didn't wreck yourself). But, it wasn't easy. It took practice.
Ritual takes practice, yoga, mediation, riding a horse, using power tools...everything takes practice. Sometimes I get so tired of telling myself "it just takes practice" though. I just want things to be.
I think living takes practice. I don't think many of us really practice living, myself included. I think we just do and don't feel, act and don't think, we are there but not present. "Presence" was my word of the year at the beginning of 2015 and I am sad to report that the practice of being present is NOT my strong suit apparently. I have a very busy mind. She never sleeps, even when I sleep. I wake up and I'm already thinking about things, worrying, strategizing (mostly for work), planning. It is exhausting. I guess REST takes practice as well.
The thought for the day is that there is no hurry. The day is stretched before us and the season of sacred summer has arrived. The woods and fields are abundant with everything that has slept, then stirred, then quickened, then burst forth toward the sun. To honor the day I will not hurry. I will linger on each and every moment from my morning run, through my chores at the barn and a visit with my father. I will watch the sun set and light a candle to extend this day into the night, for this is day of my longing.
For the love of all that is good in the world I would like to now declare that bastard also known as winter officially outta here. March roared in with Thor and roared out (although not as mightily) with another light blanket of white. Our “Easter snow” consisted of some little ice balls peppering the ground early yesterday and now…. Now we are looking at buds and birds and greenbriers (the first things to appear for spring).
There are things that I complain incessantly about just like every other annoying human. Winter is one of them. Although I remain committed to my eventual plan to vacate this existence in favor of a place with more “suitable” weather for my cold-blooded, heat loving body, I am stuck here for a bit. So, every year, I welcome spring with wide open arms. Every bit of it. Even the mud. Mud is one thing I refuse to complain about. Heat is another. I am NOT an equal opportunity complainer. Winter gets all my love in that regard.
So, right now, things are really messy here. LOL. You wouldn’t notice it quite as much living a quiet, mostly inside life in town, but out here in the woods and at the barn... Lords, we are ankle deep in it. My yard itself has some, uh-hum, drainage issues I am working on. The trail above me sends lots of moisture over the hill right into my backyard. The result is….spongy. The barn, well, let us talk about horse hooves and grass and water = mud.
This is a really messy time of year, which gets me thinking about the birth of a season and the earth in general. I think that spring is possibly the most misunderstood season. Because people want it to be something it is not. Yes, they love the concept of winter ending and warmer weather and “life renewed” but they think in terms that aren’t accurate. People want spring to be like modern Easter. Full of brightly colored, clean eggs and new frilly clean dresses and enormous feasts fit for a very clean village.
That ain’t spring! Spring is fucking messy! It is muddy, wet, gooey and sometimes painful (if you count wiping up your floors four times a day from little dirty footprints as critters come and go). It is true birth. Birth of the creatures that we share the world with, the trees and plants that bud (and pollinate speaking of painful for many), the flowers that have struggled to the surface and finally break through, the cold blooded frogs, lizards and snakes that lie curled in the earth as they begin to come back to life…
These things aren’t sterile and crisp, clean white. They are bathed in the colors of struggle. The colors of blood and tears and grit. It takes an enormous amount of work to renew oneself and that rebirth doesn’t come without those things.
When I walk outside these mornings I am not greeted with promise. Promise was for Imbolc. Promise was the whispered words of those still underground telling me to hold on, just hold on a little longer… Promise has passed now and we have burst forth into what is real. What is real is that birth is all around us and every bit as messy as it should be.
I'm just happy I made some progress. So, these logs were very heavy and long and some of them I was able to get to the ravine and pitch to go their natural route. Of the others I simply pulled them to edge of my property line behind a row of pine trees where a little no man's land of brush and rocks exists. I lined them long-ways behind the pines, making a little fence-line of sorts. May they slowly decay in restful peace. LOL.
I cleaned up the space where they were, cleaned up two other old woodpiles and built (out of rotting pallets) a new wood keeper between two perfectly spaced trees. I will do a little roof for it later this summer to help keep the wood dry.
I dug out four dying hedges and returned them to the woods. They will make great wildlife cover. Birds and small critters love pine-like stuff for that purpose. I trimmed some other stuff I'm keeping. A burning bush and some other ornamental bloomers. I still have to make a decision on a couple more of these pine hedges on the side of the house but they will most likely go as well. Taking out the ones in the backyard really opened it up and I can see a nice little bench back there, maybe some Hosta (which will lead to a deer salad bar I'm sure LOL).
I started the battle with the briers and brambles that are creeping into the yard (ugggghhhhhh I HATE briers) and while working on this made the coolest discovery! On one side of my yard is a ravine. It is lined with limestone rock formations. Very pretty. Really big drop at one spot (about 50ft) but gorgeous. In my backyard the drop is more gradual and in this one spot there is sort of a natural drainage ditch etched out over time. My dad has been trying to work on this issue of the backyard being soppy wet due to water coming off the hill from the trail using this ditch. I am damn well convinced there is also a natural spring under here somewhere. So this ditch leads to a smaller rock formation that is stepped down into the ravine quite nicely, with moss growing on it - one of those spots that as a kid I was always convinced served as a little water fall spot for the Fae. Why am I saying "as a kid"? LOL I still believe it.
So, I started tidying up around it with the rest of the yard. Hoping the spring rain will now wash it clean.
There are so many cool little spots around here and about three miles up the trail there is a swimming hole with a water fall. A runner that I work with told me about it and the prior owner (who had a big dog she took on long walks) mentioned it as well.
So, lots to explore and a ton of work to do.
I was reading a some yoga based literature last night that I started while on my trip to Alaska (and thinking during reading it that I should just simply start the book over because it is good, I don't want to miss the point and I had so much on my mind there that I feel like I HAVE missed several points)....
But, the chapter I was reviewing pertained to cleansing. It discussed philosophical and physical aspects of the same, talked about some hardcore yoga practices related to it and as I drifted off to sleep while reading (something I often do), little bits of what the author was saying were floating through my mind. Mainly, that there are many kinds of cleansing and some are quite painful, mostly emotionally.
It reminds me of my favorite quote from the modern version of Batman. And, why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I've heard that all my life and I must say I do believe it to be true. I have come to think of this winter almost as a cleansing mechanism for everything not gritty inside me. Because, despite my desperate (yet apparently half-hearted) attempts to maintain my independence, my gypsy soul, for the past decade or more I have somehow slowly become detached from the salt of myself.
Why describe it like that? Because I have this notion that people, deep and powerful people, people that experience life and live it, have salt. They are the "salt of the earth" types. They are the people when told to "go pound salt" say yes I will and my blood, sweat and tears will form oceans of promise. They are tough and kind and sometimes weary but they keep going. They are independent, resourceful, magical.
I have been reminded more than I ever care to this winter of life's hard days, whether they be simply due to our own personal struggles, the inconveniences of duty, home, work, weather, or the so much more painful truth of mortality, suffering and lack of hope in the world. Everything had started to leave me feeling beaten and worn down. I got nothing else I said one day in relation to the very real drudgery that winter heaps upon my own mind.
And yet, don't I? I mean, really, can I do anything else except form an ocean of every experience to feed my soul? What other choice is there for me but to go on?
And not just go on but go on well. Go on hard and with purpose. Move forward toward the light like everything else in the living world. Reach up and claw and scratch my way to the surface and taste the salt of my sweat (and tears). Relish in what I can do, remember how to do what I have forgotten and learn to do what I need to know.
Those are the lessons that winter is teaching me. May you come out of the Dark Season with your own hope and knowledge and may you use them well.
The name of the holiday is Imbolc. Oh, you forgot? We often do. I notice mostly that those of us in the colder zones of the country tend to let this one pass right over. We are all too busy staying warm, cursing subzero, prepping for the latest Snowmaggedon, etc. As I noted in my LAST POST, life is tough right now in terms of immersing oneself in the seasons. To put it bluntly, winter is still here and it still sucks.
But, since Imbolc's roots are based around those very first signs that winter's hold is getting ever so slightly less tight on the world, I’m trying to shift my focus a little bit here. I’m trying to feel it, this rustling….and I feel it like this…
Deep below the frozen ground where rooted things have retreated to sleep something stirs…
Mother, may we wake now?
…and stretches ever slightly upward, beginning the journey toward the light. Soon it will burst forth from the dirty forest floor and covered with the debris and the aftermath of the fall, shivering at the remaining icy breath of winter, it will uncurl itself and declare that it lives and that it wants…
The nights have grown less long.
…light and hope and the joyful sounds of the forest in spring. Somewhere, a robin lifts her head and turns toward the wind, knowing that despite the frigid howl of the darkness, there is warmth approaching on a fast horse…
I faintly hear the calling of a robin’s song.
…and a bear slumbers beneath a rocky crag and dreams of the rhythmic sound of hoof beats. Closer and closer to the surface of wakefulness she flutters until her eyes begin to open and the beating she feels is that of her own heart…
Asleep we’ve been under the ground.
…and a tree creaks and moans in the wind as its sap slowly warms and the tiniest spark inside of what will soon be a bud that will then become a leaf glistens and the tree knows…
While snow falls softly all around.
…just like the earth knows and those of us who wait know that winter is long and hard and unforgiving. We know that we are tired and worn. We are cold and aching from work. Our souls are tattered with frost and we feel beaten. We feel defeated…
But Mother, we must wake now.