Imbolc: Fanning the Flames of Hope

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Tomorrow is Imbolc.  The wheel of the year seems to be turning faster and faster.  It seems that just yesterday we were celebrating the Solstice.  Here in Georgia, as I sat in preparation for Imbolc, we were hit by a snow and ice storm.

Most of Atlanta sat in gridlock because of lack of preparation….no blame to throw here…just lack of preparation.  I had friends who had to abandon their cars and walk five miles and more to get to shelter.  One friend walked eight miles, stopping for coffee at any open convenience store or grocer.  His husband tracked him on his IPhone as he walked.

Through this ordeal, the world either laughed at us here in the south…or they empathized and prayed.  To those who laughed, I have one thing to say. Just remember, “What is normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly.”  The one thing that constantly rang through the minds of many southerners was the hope of just getting home.  The time we were in our cars, walking, fighting the bitter cold….one thing danced in front of us, guided us through the fear…..the hope of the home-fire.

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I got home before my partner did that day.  I called him to see when he was leaving work.  He told me each time that it would be soon.  The last time, I told him to leave then….don’t question me or argue.  I sat on pins and needles knowing that some people had already been stalled on the side of the road.  I walked out into the courtyard and looked up between what I call my ‘Cernunnos Tree.’  I breathed into the icy air.  Please keep him safe….keep them all safe.  I stood there listening to the silence that only a snowfall can bring.  It is the only time that sound is absorbed into nature.  Our complex, which is normally noisy and boisterous and never silent, suddenly stood stock still…each person, animal, and machine bowing to the power that Nature herself holds.

Wednesday and Thursday, everyone waited in hopes of winter being melted away.  Schools were still closed….people still could not get back to their offices.  The cars they had abandoned were still glued to the side of the road by ice.  My own hips and knees were sore from navigating through the ice when the dogs had to pee.  My little blue chihuahua loves his time outside, but resigned himself to the pee and run….if he stayed outside a little too long, he started to shake all over.  The habit now was standing over the space heater holding him until he stopped shaking.2014-02-01 14.40.24

On Wednesday, I ventured out to see how the roads around the complex fared.  On my walk, I encountered a little bird sitting up against the snow shivering.  My first thought was that it was sick and would probably die, but I had to pick it up and try to help it.  It hopped on my hand and I placed it inside my coat, next to my chest to warm it up.  As it warmed up, it chirped.  I took it out of my coat and watched as he flew up toward one of the taller trees.  He just needed to be warmed up a bit.

Here in Atlanta, there were people walking the highways with hot chocolate, food and supplies for those who were stranded.  Grocery stores were staying open all night long to give those walking refuge from the cold.  Compassion ran rampant.  Even if bodies were shaking from the low temperatures….the hearts were warmed beyond measure.  Just one small offering is all it takes to start hope brewing.

This morning was the first day I have been able to get to the woods since the big ice-over.  I walked out with a little blue chihuahua wrapped snugly in my cloak.  Everything I needed was packed into my backpack.  We got to our place in the woods and the first thing I did was build a small fire in my cauldron.  I have a little pyre of rocks that I used to set in on.  The candles were placed to each side…the wolf and crow skulls given their normal places.  We sat directly in front of the burning cauldron.  As I closed my eyes, I could feel the heartbeat of the Earth Mother.  I could feel her belly brimming with newness….ready to be birthed.  I whispered to her that not once have I hated the winter or wished it away….it is necessary for the beginnings anticipated…but I thanked for what is to come.candles

As I sat there, I placed my hands on the ground.  I could feel the seeds, grasses and flowers yawning and stretching as they prepare for the coming spring.  The Earth Mother made them a promise…and she intended to fulfill it completely.

She made us that same promise.  I know you feel it.  There is something welling up inside of you….I know I feel it.  There is something new and wonderful and joyful ready to burst forth.  For some, this winter has been a season of sorrow….for some, a season of rest and regrouping.

For those moving through sadness….the universe has been working together with the spirits around you to help you walk out of the pain and crying.  You have to be willing to move past the winter.  I know from losing my own partner many years ago, that sometimes we become too comfortable in our mourning clothes.  There is joy around us, but we have to be willing to open ourselves to it.

For those resting….it is time to rise up and get moving.  There is magick out there ready for you to create it.  Put your hand against the trunk of the tree….that isn’t just the heartbeat of the tree you feel.  It is matching your heartbeat…it is joining in your magick to make powerful things happen.

I reworked my home altar today.  There were new things to be added…gifts from those who have added magick to my own life this year. There were things that had to be removed….gifts from those who have chosen to throw their magick to the side of the road.  It is a time for new beginnings.

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This Imbolc has given me something that I hadn’t counted on.  I have received a new hope for who I am.  It has purposed in me a reason for holding my partner just a little bit tighter…the gift of laughter and love and compassion.  It has shown me that things around me are always going to be temporal…I should cherish every moment, every person, every animal that comes into my life.  As I sit here typing with a little blue chihuahua on my lap licking at the side of my face, I lean into the warmth of the hearth fire.  I don’t look back in disappointment at the things that have happened, but I look forward in hope of the magick of things yet to come.

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Leaving the Winter Behind

BLIZZARD WORCESTER

For some of my friends, this year has brought a rough winter.  They’ve been faced with, and buried by, tall snow drifts.  And this winter, I feel we have all been buried in some fashion…whether it be in snow or ice or emotions or pain.  This past year has been a year of death and endings; this winter has been exhausting.

I have watched those I care deeply about struggle and trudge uphill, only to be met with cold winds and pushed backward by other forces or energies.  So many have been confused and been made to stumble against the blizzards life has brought.  So many have taken to hiding from life itself; never wanting to leave the comfort of their own space….others have gone recklessly into the streets causing havoc in the midst of their own turmoil.

My partner just got back from visiting his family in South Dakota.  He said the wind was so cold (-40°), that it felt like it was biting to his very bones.  Ever felt that fear….that dread…that went to your very bones?  This winter has brought that for many.  I have heard so many complaining of sickness and depression/discouragement.

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This morning, early, I took to the woods with Friz.  It was a bitter cold….I was wrapped up in my cloak and had Friz in his hoodie (I think I need to invest in a chihuahua sized wool cloak for mornings like this).  I packed my small cauldron away with my other altar supplies in my backpack.  When we got to the woods, I unpacked and set up the altar.  I lit the charcoal pellet inside and sprinkled incense over it.  I lit the candles and placed the skulls.  I invited the elements and the directions.  I welcomed my familiar spirits wolf and crow.

I found the most incredible thing at my local metaphysical store here in Atlanta.  It is called flying paper.  You write your spell…wish….intent on the paper and set it on fire and it flies off.  I wrote in black ink, my intent onto the paper and the names of those who needed my magick.  I watched with childlike eyes as the papers drifted up above me and disintegrated….breathing my intent and magick into the universe.  I could feel a lightness in my own spirit as I looked in front of me and could see wolf and crow dancing and playing with each other.  Friz was tugging on my cloak and play growling.  This past full moon…..something happened…even though the cold of winter is still upon us, the warmth of spring can be felt and smelled.  It is, of course, a distant feeling and scent….but it is still there all the same.  This I feel in my bones.

I feel a hope and excitement stirring inside of myself.  As I sat in front of the cauldron, I pushed all of those feelings into giant balls of intent and moved them out to all of those I know are in deep need.  It is that same energy that surrounds the bulbs nestled in the earth…..that anticipation and promise that a beautiful blossom stands at the end of the wait.

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We have waited patiently through the winter…through the harsh and bitter cold.  It is now time to begin the work.  It is time to dig our way out. We come out of hibernation much like the bear…..gaunt and ravenous.  We have used up the magickal stores that we gathered and tucked away for the winter months.  It is now time to dig into those most magickal parts of our spirits.  It is time to nourish our spirits….come out of hiding and watch the magick unfold in front of us.

You can’t tell me that you haven’t felt it stirring.  You can’t deny that something has taken grip of your very spirit and sparked your thoughts and feelings…..something new….something powerful.  I feel it…..the animals feel it……the elements feel it…..the very earth beneath your feet feels it.  Her heart begins to beat with the beat of excitement.  A time of rebirth and newness is around the corner.  As I lay on the ground this morning in front of my cauldron, I placed my ear to the ground.  I could feel the heartbeat of the earth mother…..pregnant with more magick than we could ever fathom.

For some reason, most of us truly fear what the Lord and Lady have called us to.  We are afraid of the magick that we pursue so hard.  We run toward it and just as we see that it is right there in our grasp, we pull back……afraid that what we have so desired may actually happen.  We long to see our gifts and abilities work in full force, but at the same time, are so afraid of it that we dare not tap into what sits right in the palm of our hands.

Do not be afraid to travel a new path;

It may be the way to find what you’ve been looking for all along.

It is time to release all that has held you back through this rough and bitter winter.  Release…what a freeing word.  Release everything that ever held you back.  Don’t you deserve to live in the fullness of the Earth Mother’s heartbeat.  Release that anger….that bitterness…that lack of confidence.  We are walking…..no, running toward a new season.  Take off your shoes and run barefoot toward your destiny.

For Once in your Life, Do Not Live Your Life Afraid!

Experience the freedom of singing out loud and not caring if every note is perfect.  Even if you don’t have a stick’s worth of rhythm, dance to the drumbeat of the Earth around you.  Look at yourself and see the beauty that is you.  Let that inner lion roar….let that inner wolf howl at the moon. You are capable of things that no other person is capable of and you have a purpose.  Fear and self-doubt only stifle the magick.   The more your heartbeat lines up with the Earth Mother….the stronger that heartbeat will be.  This morning,  I sang along with a wolf and a crow.  I sang to a chihuahua.  I laughed with the wind and I danced along to the rhythm of the heartbeat of Mother Earth.  Today, my little blue chihuahua and I, walked in the woods alongside Brigid and Cernunnos.  Our intentions flew like fireflies dancing across a night sky.

My hope for you this year is that you don’t hold onto those things that bind you and your magick.  My hope for you is that you live a life of magick fueled by the heartbeat of the Earth around you…that you learn to sing with the winged ones and the four-leggeds…..that you learn to dance with the wind…..and that you can change the world around you with your intent and magick…..that more than anything, you learn to let go of all those things that don’t serve your spirit in the most powerful of ways.

Blessed Be!

Smoky Mountain High

It was a long drive on Thursday…a five hour one to be exact. We stopped at three Walmarts and one Ingle’s grocery store. I had worked late the night before, so I slept a good part of the way. I did wake up when we hit Asheville. We had been warned that they had gotten snow up there two days before.

As we drove in, you could see little remnants of snow everywhere. Most of it was in varying stages of melting. When we started driving up the mountain where our cabin was, though, there was snow everywhere. Just enough to look magickal. There was some cloud cover, so the snow had a blue hue to it. I am not normally a wintery weather type of person, but it took my breath away.

I could already feel myself shaking off the cares and worries from the week. I felt the excitement that I remembered feeling as a child….waiting to hear if you have to go to school. Rain and snow have always been cleansing for me. I could feel years of stress washing away as I looked at the blanket of white before me. The child took over…..I picked up handfuls of the soft powdery wet snow and packed it into a couple of the best looking snowballs I could form and I threw them…..both at my partner. His child-likeness apparently hadn’t kicked in yet….I was greeted with a scowl, but it quickly turned into a devilish smile and I could tell that I needed to keep my guard up….at least for a while.

We got settled into the cabin….got room assignments and got into our comfy clothes. As the evening progressed, I was greeted by one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. The Lord and Lady outdid themselves as they painted oranges and pinks and blues and yellows across the evening sky. As I settled into the comfort of the symphony of colors, I could feel the magick welling up inside of me. I knew I would have to separate myself before long and have some time with the Lord and Lady and the fae.

I had packed a small altar set to take with me. I had a few stones, some small candles, my wand, my smaller cauldron, and my cloak. I disappeared later that night as everyone slept. I found a small clearing in the mountains where the snow had not been disturbed. I built a small fire in my cauldron and put the candles on each side. It was so cleansing. I felt like I had stepped back in time. On that mountain side, I was communing with the Ancients. I could feel my mind clearing as the wind circled around me. I could here the creek talking to me….so I talked back. I whispered the names of friends and loved ones into the wind….and it whispered back. Of course I could hear every type of noise that night time in the mountains could offer. If I hadn’t grown up with the sounds of nature in my ear, I would have probably been frightened.

I could hear the Ancients whispering the secrets of the mountain to me. I remember asking out loud, “Why have the mountains been around for so long?” The answer whispered back on the wind, “Because they are constantly changing.” I thought to myself, “I have to be willing to change….not the core of who I am….but I have to be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things.” The core of the mountain doesn’t change, but the change is in each thing that is a result of the changing seasons. As if on cue, a lone yellow leaf fell into the flame of my cauldron. I watched as it experienced another change…from ash to smoke.

I put out the fire, sat there and let everything cool, then took everything back to the cabin with me. I slept so peacefully that night and awoke rejuvenated the next morning. I was excited to see that a friend had seen some of the photos I had posted of the mountains and she suggested that I make a snowball, fill it with wishes and throw it at a tree. I loved that suggestion…..on impact all of the wishes are released into the universe! What a way to start the day!!!

On Saturday, the plan was to hike to different waterfalls closeby. I was so excited. I had planned so much water magick before the trip started. As we hiked, which ended up being ten miles all total, I found a staff that I used to help me keep my footing. When you aren’t used to hiking…much less walking that type of distance…it helps to have something to lean on. One set of falls, in particular, struck a note with me. It was called “Triple Falls.” This was where a couple of scenes from “The Hunger Games” was filmed. I climbed and moved to the middle falls…I could get close enough to feel the spray on my face. It was just cold enough to enliven me….to make my spirit jump with anticipation. I sat on a rock next to the fall….I wasn’t shocked as another hiker’s dog came up beside me and sat next to me……I was given a gift as I sat and communed with the water and the land and that gentle Boxer. Later as I chatted with the Boxer’s owner, I was told that she just normally doesn’t sit that still….again, a gift.

After the day of hiking, I was exhausted….not the kind of exhausted where you can’t move….the body was just tired. My heart, my spirit was ecstatic. I felt as though I had been a part of the universes wardrobe change. Again, that night, I slipped into that little space among the trees. I just sat. I had no cares at that moment….I was too tired to have cares. I curled up next to my cauldron and dozed for about 20 minutes…..just me in my cloak, asleep in the snow and dirt. Such a connection I felt with the Ancients again….and to my God and Goddess.

As we were leaving the mountains on Sunday, I laughed out loud as I heard a crow caw from the trees behind me. Why should I expect any less…..for all I know, mama crow could have followed me up that mountain. As we wound our way down that mountain, I saw movement on one side of the road….I told the fellow driving to stop and we watched four doe dance across the road into a field. I took it as a sign that the mountain was telling me good-bye and to come again soon. I smiled to myself as everyone in the car sat in awe of the deer.

Granny, you were right. When you turn to the mountain, everything else does seem smaller in its shadow.

Blessed Be!