It’s not all about the snow (but I’d like some)

Spring is whispering its song from underneath the bare earth.The stage is very much still Winter’s: many days of glistening frost, nippy air that bites your bones, fragile sunshine and naked trees. But Spring is twisting and stretching gently like a napping cat about to wake. This unborn season dances invisible in Mother Winter’s belly.

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Image pinned on my Imbolc Pinterest board from nordicwiccan.blogspot.co.uk

Almost invisible. For green fingers push up through and into the air – in spite of the hard ground. In a few weeks they will be boldly nodding daffodils. This weekend, many will be celebrating lunar Imbolc,*  with more celebrating the festival in the middle of this coming week. King Sun is ever so slightly stronger, I tell my son. We are seeing him go to bed a little later and rise a little earlier. I’ve still not seen any snowdrops! They seemed scarce last year, even around Bristol’s wilder edges and crannies.

I’ve enjoyed this winter – am enjoying. (I want to hear the rest of her song before turning my attention to Spring!) It feels like a “real” winter: proper frosts on several hand-rubbingly crisp days. Only one tiniest smattering of snow – enough to delight my son, although how he wishes to wake to see the land tucked up in a proper blanket of soft white like in our winter books full of snowball fights and deep footprints. Such things are quite rare in our part of Britain but I itch to share such magic with him and his little brother. Just thinking (and wishing!) about it, I smile at how their rosy faces will grin and giggle in a state of simple bliss if our wish comes true.

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Mind you, sometimes I think that we perhaps over-depict snow as a symbol of winter, Granted, many of the Waldorf-y books in our home are weavings of writers from more northern parts of the world than mine. Yet at times I feel that Winter’s other players – Jack Frost, the Queen of the NIght / Dark Goddess, the bare trees and earth – that they might deserve a little more attention in the art we make about this season. For me, it’s these symbols of  the outer world’s emptiness and cold that invites us to focus on our inner beauty and riches through learning, soul-work, self-development and stoking our inner fire. When we go outside in winter, maybe we enjoy a view of beautiful buildings (or  have our children enjoy seeing a train going along the tracks!) that is hidden from view by summertime’s clutter of leaves; I feel winter likewise invites us to find that clarity when we look inside ourselves.

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All that barrenness around holds the hope and potential of what can sprout and grow. ♥

 

*the dark/new moon of late January – or early February,

First photo: Ice pictures – on a night when frost is forecast, lay out leaves and others interesting things in a bucket of water outside. Position a string so that the ends will also be frozed into the water to hang your “picture” up in the morning! You can also do this all year round in a plastic tub in your freezer.

Second photo: “Snow garden” that we made a couple of years ago to slightly compensate for our disappointment at a snow-less winter! Use soap powder on a cardboard base, add crystals, mirrors (for frozen ponds), twigs etc. From Earthwise, by Carol Petrash.

Third photo: Our Solstice branches – winter 2016.

Fourth photo: Forest of Dean, January 2015

 

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Spring creeps in

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When I think about the nearly-thirty-one years of seasons that I’ve experienced, Spring often seems to creep in slowest of the seasons; the others have a firmer arrival. This is what my memory tells me. (Yes, keeping a journal would have provided a more accurate record but it’s a little beyond me to apply such logic to my life!) Spring’s first steps onstage – the gradually longer days, the fragile snowdrops and crocuses – are so hushed and timid. These steps are slow and when the weather yo-yos between wintry and spring-like it’s as if those baby-steps retreat back to the wings before tiptoeing out again, maybe this time a shade further. It’s as if this season tries to be all inconspicuous as she comes out. Yet we the audience sit eagerly waiting, pointing these signs out to each other, shining the spotlight and cheering happily. Towards the end of Spring’s show – when colour smiles all around, the sun is strong, the air is warm and abundant blossoms everywhere froth with the confidence of a perfectly-made cappuccino – then fanfare and applause can almost be heard on the breeze.

As a parallel, my Imbolg celebrations tend to be more drawn out too. I’ve written before of how I tend to celebrate the cross-quarter festivals as a “tide” over a lunar month and I think that this particularly applies to my welcoming of Spring. We’ve enjoyed various little celebrations and activities over the past few weeks, such as….

  • spotting spring flowers, catkins and green buds on trees during our walks out and about. The almost-daily check of how much the green shoots in our garden have grown is such a magical spring ritual to share with my son.
  • Changing our nature table to reflect this festival.
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  • talking together about the change from winter, about the Earth waking up and about new life emerging – such as lambs being born! Dylan and I enjoyed a sheep-making activity from The Imagination Tree:

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  • blessing the packets of seeds that we intend to plant in our garden this year – indeed, we have some exciting plans for revamping our garden, (if our landlord agrees). For the blessing, we placed the packets in the centre of a ring of beeswax candles that I’d made, with a small bowl of Glastonbury Chalice Well water at the centre. We each gently blew around the circle and visualised the sun, rain and our love and nurture helping our seeds to go into beautiful vegetables, salads and flowers. I then extinguished all candles except one, which I put in the garden in a jam jar to help the earth to wake up. I left it there until it was spent.

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  • For more personal activities, focussing on my goals for this year – the seeds I’m planting in my life – as well as working a little with the goddess Bridget and thinking about my associations and identifications with her. I’ve also enjoyed using Miranda Grey’s womb renewal blessing from the last Worldwide Womb Blessing.

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(Paintings above by Jaine Rose)

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  • Being aware of the stronger kapha energy of this time of year and to try to balance this through adjustments to my diet, yoga practice and activities.
  • Rejoicing at being able to put washing out on the line and it being a little less damp by the end of the day. (simple things!)
  • Replacing our winter books with our spring ones in our seasonal book basket – and delighting in Dylan delighting in them!

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  • Treating ourselves to some cheery daffodils.

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Although we’re loving Spring’s gradual entrance, we are still hoping for a little snow; Dylan and I have agreed that our nature table should reflect that we still might do! Who knows….

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Happy Springtime (ish) ♥

Awake

ImageBeing outside right now often brings to my mind the Ted Hughes poem Wind that  I studied – and loved – at school. Unromanticised nature. Nature that humbles me and sharply reminds me of my gratitude for the comfort of home. And hot chocolate.

These buds are on our blueberry bushes but it’s all the daffodil buds I’m waiting for. I almost want to sit and watch for the moment sometime very soon when those buds will just…… POP!! For now they’re holding themselves together tightly, as a lot of us people do when out in these winds. I’m sure that I’ve massaged a lot of shoulders whose stiffness is in part attributed to being hunched up around the ears throughout the colder months!

These buds, awaiting their showtime like actors ready for their cue to get on stage, speak to me of emerging; of waking up and stretching out. Of that point where we leave our dreams but haven’t quite opened our eyes (I’m picturing here the slow, tentative process that is my husband’s way of waking up!). I also feel this sense of awakening in my journey into this year. Some changes in our life in early January meant that we had to make a few alterations to aspects our home rhythm and how we spend our time. We’ve had a few minor teething problems, some trials and errors, all hampered by each of us getting a bug, Ugh.

In the last few days, as each of us has our health almost restored, as realisations have been made and discussed, as plans have been revised and tweaked, I’ve felt more in tune with this new song of ours. I can’t quite say I’ve got the steps to this year’s dance nailed, but i’m humming and tapping along with open eyes, ready to emerge.

Imbolc

ImageRaw sugar-free “coconut snowball” sweets, omnomnom!

There’s few days I love more than one where I hear the Fffwup, fffwup, fffwup, fffwup, fffwup, crack, SWISH! SWISH! Ffwup, crack, fffwup, crack, SWISH! SWISH! Fffwup, fffwup…. of a forest floor beneath my feet; twigs, sodden leaves, mud, moss, pine needles. Behind me, the wheeesh-wish, wheeesh-wish of my toddler’s puddle-suit lets me know he’s still following us. The absence of his usually-constant chatter lets me know that he’s as absorbed in the beauty of this place as I am. Trips like these are so important for the three of us; for my husband and I to be away from the distractions of household tasks, for us all to be in a open safe enough space where we don’t have to watch Dylan with the intense hazard awareness that we do on busy pavements near roads and dog poo and litter. I love this gift of freedom to relax and enjoy what’s around us. This gift off soul nourishment. Of inspiration. Of peace.

Walalaloool, walalaloool says the nearby (but not too nearby!) stream as it tumbles down some rocks, busy and moving in this still, still place. Dylan asks “Mama sing Muvva Earf carry me song”. I oblige; it’s my favourite goddess chant. A river is flo-o-wing, flowing and gro-o-wing, a river is flo-o-wing down to the sea. Mother Earth carry me; your child I will always be. Mother Earth carry me; down to the sea.

Most of our celebrations for the marker points in the year’s journey for the seasons involve a walk somewhere that feeds our souls. I loved yesterday’s combination of time out in wild nature and some time tending to nature at home; planting our first seeds of the year. Just some herbs in pots and some salad leaves in modules so that they can start off sheltered indoors and then move out to our mini-greenhouse. This, and my first sighting of snowdrops on Saturday (and the sight of some dainty purple crocuses today) feel like Spring sending out little whispers through the blustery winds to say she’s on her way. Hello Spring! You will be so welcome; I have many ideas waiting to grow  with you.

Happy Imbolc ♥

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Springspiration

Yesterday, at the outdoor Stay-and-Play group that my son and I often go to, I saw my first flower of this spring. In the past fortnight, I’ve seen many green shoots poking above ground but this daintily nodding little narcissus was the first I’ve seen to burst out of the green and beam its beautiful colour boldly to all: “Hi! I’m awake, I’m here, I’m strong”. Unfortunately, due to inaccessibly of camera and speed of toddler, I was unable to get a photo to share with you the pretty sight I still have nodding in my memory. But i do have many gorgeous inspiring images to celebrate the coming of spring on my Imbolc Pinterest board!

It doesn’t quite feel like the time for me to celebrate the dawn of spring yet. Not until a few more flowers have come to say hello. Not after yesterday’s wintery pale, chilly sunshine (any readers in North America will be shaking their heads and thinking “chilly?! Chilly?! She knows nothing of chilly!!” I know, I know. It’s all relative!). Until then, I will drift through my dreams of how we will celebrate: recipes, decorations to make, how to spend the day we celebrate on…. Until then. I’ll enjoy just feeling spring slowly stirring, eyes not yet open, bedding not yet thrown off, but just starting to stretch in the earlier dawn. ♥

Cry of the Wolf Moon

IMG_1881January’s full moon is often known as the Wolf Moon, particularly in North America where, as it is said. the howl of the hungry wolf packs would be particularly audible to Native American tribes across the cold, bare winter landscape. I have never heard a live wolf’s howl but imagine (from recordings and film versions I have heard) that I would find it eerie, penetrating, beautiful, enchanting and a little scary. So too are the other calls ringing out in my world right now, where long dark nights invite deep conversation, introspection and private meditation; where the recent winter solstice and a new calendar year have beckoned review, transformation and renewal; where cold, wet weather (and storms!) necessitate wrapping up and nurturing our bodies and our homes in the interest of health and comfort.

This full moon is sometimes known as the Snow Moon, which doesn’t feel very relevant for me as not every winter gets snow in the South West UK where I’ve always lived. It is also known as the Old Moon, and with this I identify more. Whilst, as some of my recent posts have talked about,, I’m feeling a big feeling of “newness” right now. there’s a lot of old energy too. I guess it’s a transformation in progress where both old and new are present as one is becoming the other. The spirit of the just-died year is held in the leaves still on the ground and the tidying – in our outer and inner worlds – not yet completed. The earth still sleeps yet the sun is reborn – seen in the days being visibly so slightly longer now.

Yet the earth is stirring. This week I have seen a the odd little green shoots poking out of the soggy earth. I generally mark Imbolc earlier than the calendar date of 1st-2nd February anyway because snowdrops, catkins and crocuses usually arrive sooner here in the south. It doesn’t feel time yet; not until I see flowers outside of a garden centre where they’ve probably been brought on artificially. Not until there is just a little more strength in the air – until the year has taken hold with a firmer grasp.

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And so I try to firm up my grasp on where I am and what I need right now. For example, where the last 2 years have been a time of a lot of focus on my self-development and my transition from maiden to mother, this year feels like a year where we need to build more community and spend more time with others on a similar path. This evening, hopefully Mama Moon will be a little more visible than last night so I can spend a few minutes standing in her light giving thanks for that realisation, celebrating the ideas we are gestating and asking for strength, calm, nurture and whatever else we need to bring them into being.

May your needs and dreams receive that light and nurture too. Happy full moon. ♥