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“If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.” Credit to my friend Jack, original author unknown.
I don’t know about that gopher critter, but here on the midatlantic seaboard, it was clouds and rain, so I for one am banking on a quick coming spring.
Today is Candlemas for the Catholics, and traditional first light, or Imbolc or Brigid’s Day for folk cultures in different places. It is when the light of the new harvest year breaks the first germinated seeds free. Brigid is my patron Goddess, lore of the Celts, and also a saint. I honor celebrations of the soulful aspects of tending the inner heart, home and hearth-fire light in her name, as well as veneration for my first true religion, poetry, and the Sacred Imagination.
Lunar Imbolc is a celebration that also connects the holiday to planting tides. It occurs during the new moon when the sun is in the constellation of aquarius. This year, lunar Imbolc occurs overnight, Valentine’s Day into the next day.
It is a cross-quarter celebration on the Medicine Wheel, highlighting the Northeast corner, a quickening period for ideas when the vision for new upcoming life is perceived but not seen, as winter and its dormancy wraps round the dreamer. When the dark space cooks the light within.
It is an initiation time in the women’s work, aligned with tasks of discernment in the house of the dark mother as well as oracle, prophecy and visioning.
Tend your dreams.
We are in this medicine until the next new moon.
Between the worlds of what was last year, and what will come.
Oh Imbolc–and that part we so struggle against–sacred in between.
One of my favorite parts about walking an earth path is just doing my life and getting to be surprised by the magic. I’m not talking about right now concentration on minding mind to lose yourself to the moment being. I’m talking about the last week has been messy house and piles of dishes and falling asleep in front of the tv. Just total flop mode. I took off from producing anything creatively for the whole month of January. It was my intent to track along with winter’s fallow season.
So this week I started getting inspired to like, color, journal, create. I aimed for Wednesday to hit the drawing board professionally. Wednesday came and felt like sludge. No go.
Instead, I could barely tumble from bed fast enough this morning, with the creative stirring and vision tiptoeing across my spirit, so soft and easy, so sweet and free as I woke.
The seeds break free, the light is cast.
As for me, I’m going dancin 🙂
In Oregon the Breitenbush river is a color of steel-teal that exists no other place on the earth and this must be partly because of the non-negotiable trees. It is easy to be grounded and feel at one in your place in a place like this. It is easy to revere the miracle of dirt: seasons of evergreen, of winter’s death and dying on into spring’s plenty and rebirth. Steps in the same dance. Willamette!! Land of gushing fat waters and springs, land of special color of trees. You taught me long ago the way of tree breath. Fog drip drop drinking, drinking in-out rhythm of water-air. How it feels when the trees give gifts of this. Subtle pine touch. The gentle sweetness of pine breath on skin.
The new moon was Monday. I was coming down from the Mountain which makes me laugh to write it but no for real, North of the Bay California on up to the Olympics, for me it’s one long extended two decades now of retreating then coming down off various mountains. Learning to speak bioregion. Unlocking the practical wisdom of the earth’s cyclic codes. So yea retreating and returning at once, had to catch me a plane back to the east coast.
The dark moon phase, that VOID CHAOS SPACE of deepest dark, was this past weekend.
So this past weekend, as the daylight grew shorter and shorter towards the peak of our year’s longest night tonight!!–the moon fell to her darkest phase, hidden from the totality of the sunlight. Sunday we experienced not the longest night of the year, but the darkest.
I was sitting with poetry in the Hot Springs on retreat with my brother Paul and Sita his dear love. They are Creative Advisory members of the Free School and they held space for me at their home in mountainside to dip in to that depth of deep sweet, yummy darkness, inky blackslide into mountainside stone, inky slide into infinite space oh those healing waters of surrounding mountain chains. Deep in, to do my own cleanse before winter~tonight~begins.
The dark, winter, death, the depths, dying. The dark, yin, passive, rest, renewal. The dark, anima. Realm of the Feminine. What some Catholics or mystics call Sophia. Gateway to the Soul.
Dark moon of the month on the dark moon tide of the year. And into tonight, the longest night. The entryway to Winter. We move now North on the medicine wheel. At sunset tonight we tend this passing, and it is movement that will show itself if you get outside, or take time to soften and relax inside of you, too. Transitory, transition. IN Between Space.
I just adore that winter is North on the wheel because that is associated with forward direction. And Winter’s element is Earth, and mama Earth at this time teaches us about dormancy. So the true direction, our next right step together? North? The needed ingredient for rebirth.
Let rest be our forward, healing direction.
Sacred Rest. Sacred Rest and internal, deep reordering, metabolic stillness the thick softness of slumber to help us reset.
Winter Solstice is a time connected to the Divine Mother. It is when we revere our matrilineal lines, and all our ancestresses. The holy power of birth as Solstice is too the celebration of the Return of the Sun and darkness decreasing! How only from the dark the light comes. How this darkness initiation gives way to life, how this wisdom teaches of life’s changes, we celebrate the many small deaths, the space this creates, the room for new growth, ever onward in a long cyclic dance. How the wisdom of the feminine is the wisdom of this fluidity, is the wisdom of the necessity of every aspect in the continuum.
Demetra George reminds of the many names of the dark aspect associated with the feminine, and it’s a meaningful meditation for the year. The world around, stories and cultural, sacred, and religious traditions root us to an archetypal realm full of depth for our exploration. The dark feminine “is called Kali in India, Hekate and Persephone in Greece, Lilith in the Near East, Fresh-kigal in Sumeria, Morgana in Britian, and Hel in Scandinavia. Moira, the Fates, the Fureis, Medusa, Medea, Crice, Nemesis, Nyx, the Gorgons, the Sirens, the Black Madonna, Cerrwiden, Nepyths, Black Isis, Oya, Coatlicue, Mother Holle, Baba Yuga, the Black Dakini, the Terrible Mother, the Bad Fairy and the Wicked Witch are some of her other names(p 29).”
Knowing my own dark feminine has meant courage. Courage at night when I can’t sleep, in morning meditation time during struggles and prayers to keep my heart in the game anyhow, courage keeping my tongue in relationships that are hard. Courage to challenge the self-thoughts of judgement and shame, the particular scrutiny of perfection addiction, that specific internalization of misogyny that only women can know.
My dark feminine knows what it’s like to live in a culture that says her stories are dark. Are the dark reflection of society. Are demon and dark, satanic or occult. Are not allowed to connect me to my unique narrative and exploration, sexuality and emotions, sensuality and biology. Are used against me to keep me out of my own body, to marginalize being in my own skin.
The Dark Feminine Narrative and Stories, if we reembody them, or encourage each other to tap in and rewrite them as our own, we know what it’s like to live in a culture that calls this sin.
Embracing this kinda darkness requires the grit that only living with this kind of darkness could create! We were made for these times. Sing it from the hills.
So I left the Mountain. Left too the Oregon Coast where I was celebrating the wise women. These spiritual, soulful elders that have shown me how to walk my walk a day at a time laughing and reveling, courageously cackling, all the way. These elder wise women. Time on the Mountain only counts when you embody it day to day. But to do that the body needs time. This Time on the Medicine Wheel leads us in to dropping in and relaxing. Celebrate. Drop in and transition. Drop in to bed! Let the reset happen. Man or woman, how does the feminine as sacred exist in your life?
I send my roots down to the Earth as the circle of the year turns us North and Winter here is barren and life lives underground. I root to my roots, send thanks and honor, prayers and love to the lineage of strong females whose lives and hands and hearts midwifed lives and hands and hearts that midwifed lives and hands and hearts all the way down to mine in a million different ways, that I do the same that I do the same that I do the same,
my dark feminine soaks in this infinite wish, and sends love~
To all beings blessings and love, in the light spiritedness and whole soulfulness, in the body, in the heart, of unconditional love may all beings be blessed and
Happy Winter to All.
~ ~ ~
prayers and love to beth and paul h and ana and amy and kristina and jotto all of whom hit me up in the center of this reverie with poetry, prayers and love and prayers and love reader, to you~
Death has been a primary teacher for me.
This started when I was 20, that epic summer me and a bestie and a brother who’s now passed from drugs travelled an 11,000 mile circle around our country. Two decades ago already.
A week before that trip started, a young man my brother and I grew up car-pooling to school, lunchtime swim sessions bologna sandwiches bmx bikes and saving the princess with, got killed in a gnarly car accident on the side of I-95. My brother was invited to be on the trip in the car with him but did not go.
That tragedy shook us down.
A week after we lost him, right at the start of the summer on Solstice tide, my Grammy died. She and my pop who died in 87 had this little two bedroom plus an attic house right inside the city line, Brooklyn Park, Bmore Maryland, USA. They brought 7 kids and near three times the amount of grandkids to this world.
So between losing Grammy and our neighborhood homie, that summer I went on the road the first time death was running my ass down.
Later, by the time I got the La Catrina put on my back, I was well versed in death wisdom. I was sober by then. I had buried countless friends to drug addiction and its associated physical and mental fall out. I had also undergone a powerful inward transformation as the result of the end of a longterm romance. Endings are a kind of death. That ending initiated me into the power of the Darkness as the realm of the Feminine.
The year I lived way out on the river to grieve the ending of that part of my life, La Catrina used to call to me on the river wind. I mean it. I was an english teacher to undocumented, mostly Mexican students. I lived on the river and confronted who I am alone? I was reading for the upteeeenth time Women Who Run With the Wolves, and in reverence daily with “my inner wild wisdom” as I’d taken to calling that endless, indestructible still point within. La Catrina became for me that point of reverence, that river below the river, that ONE life that holds all. She even showed up on an artist date with me, a ceramic figurine in a little store that used to sit on a corner at the docks in downtown Annapolis. That figurine and a similar one sit atop my alter as I write this right now.
Death is our one fundamental truth as humans. The only thing that’s guaranteed.
My embracing of this particular wisdom is the single motive behind why I jump into my life with passion and presence and vitality a day at a time. It’s how I maintain loving as much as I possibly can.
The female body knows all about this metaphor of death, dying, decrease. Our body’s teach us every month. Dark wisdom. For the feminine, through the death, rebirth, life, death cycle our biology inherently experiences, holds all gnosis concerning the secrets of life. In the soul work, the women’s wisdom soul work, we look at the parts of us we had to kill off to survive. We embrace the healing of grieving for those old wounds and losses, and in that way, breathe life and living, rebirth, back into our heart’s broken spaces.
Today is an important day in the Samhain tide. All Souls Day for the Catholics, this is the final day of the Los Dias De Los Muertos, the day in which we pray for the souls of our dead.
From the Wisdom of the Dark Feminine perspective, it is a power tide for naming our own losses to self, for both women and men. A great equalizer, death or the Thantos archetype in the soul is part of the continuum of the balance of life. When we embrace who we have become because of what we have let go. And perhaps, who we are still yet to be by re-embracing parts of ourselves we killed off or forced away.
The full moon peaks this weekend. Death on the medicine wheel reminds us. What has been, is, and is yet to be all emerges from the same place. This is a moon to tend this.
Samhain tide. When we are called with reverence to the fleetingness of life. To embrace, celebrate, grieve, give thanks. And maybe? To get real… That is a medicine of death and dying to me. To practically look at the truth of things. At what simply is.
When we give ourselves the freedom of this clean kind of looking at life, space is created because we no longer resist what we cannot change. When we look at what is real then we can transform not what we see, but how we choose to respond.
A good meditation on the day of prayer for All Souls.
Nothing teaches you the patience life requires better than life itself. A basic axiom that even kicking and fighting each of us are tasked to learn: Letting go. That is the medicine I am finding myself practicing this week, as we enter the stillness of the lunar reset, the void chaos-rest space of the balsamic moon. I don’t know about you guys but my energy is sure on that wane. Being reminded of the power and the struggle: accepting that over other people, and over the variety of possible manifestations of the future in the right now, I have no control.
Ohhh life!! And how I’ve learned and relearned! That in letting go, space is always created. And spaciousness allows softness, tenderness, the capacity to move, to relax, to receive. To grow…
This is the medicine of right now on the year’s wane. This week’s new moon is the gnostic entry into the Underworld, the third and final harvest rite. The women’s wisdom or celtic earth path calls this Lunar Samhain and the women in my women’s circle seemed all to resonate to the same theme: Finally, We Enter Darkness. Sacred Invitation to Rest.
First, however, the pitch and UnRest! Of Lunar Samhain.
Traditional Samhain, known also as the more mundane Halloween, is about the relationship between peak fruition of fertility into the lean of life force completing its whole potentiality by decreasing and dying. We hate death and dying, ward off the dark by dressing up as the creatures and monsters we fear at Halloween. But what of the wisdom? What of the medicine of the dark? Letting go and surrendering is a process of absorbing and reflecting all at once, holding all the growth and reintegrating all of the different aspects this year of “Us”. Accepting, no judgment, no shame. All of the experiences that lived through you and who and how you’ve been shaped. This is now a distilling process, clarification by review of all this, and release…
And that can feel tense, flat. Still. Exhausting. Remember, it is the dark moon motion to hold us in a entropy feel. The moon cycle that will come after will increase the length of nighttime darkness more and more until winter is ushered in. For me, with a small gentle sigh and lean, it has felt like the active alchemy of opening my heart even though I don’t want to because it’s getting dark!! but trust is an action word, so allowing what I am carrying this year, all that I have fed and tended and grown, to fulfill its course with or without my control.
Patience, acceptance, letting go. Lunar Samhain: trusting the process of dark, of what we can not see. Of the passive power of energy wane, of decrease… and renewal.
Harvest season exists the world around and is one of the most ancient of all rites. Every person every place has a place that raised her and as long as there’s been life on MaMa Earth, this holds true. Her seasons move in increase and decrease, and so at Samhain we allow this letting go. It is time too of the religious holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days and Sukkoth, as well as the reverence for ancestors and death as a divine power of life during Los Dias De Los Muertes, and is also connected to a variety of both ancient goddess venerations and modern agricultural festivals. The weather changes, it is reflected in the length and depth of dark shadows, the steady motion of wind whisper in the tops of trees, the burnish bronze of late season light in the leaves and colors. We go on hayrides, drink hot cider, pick pumpkins and other seasonal gourds.
I like the earth path because our custom as American’s is the Harvest tradition of Thanksgiving, but gently tending blessings and harvests now, and letting go and space-making through out the Fall usually helps me walk into the holidays mindfully and with minimal chaos. This week especially we mind mind, note tensions and what is living, what is lost. What makes us feel uncomfortable if we have to hold still! We note life’s living/letting go wisdom, the transient power of bittersweet joy/pain over getting to experience without always being able to control. When we consider the station of Fall and the West on the medicine wheel, we think of sunset, of that precious moment of last light on the horizon. We recall that ultimately, all things pass.
And the new day will come again.
And so it is often my practice at Samhain tide to revere, among my blessings of the year and what must be let go, my ancestors. When I remember those that are no longer here, I see the ways in which I am a living growing example of their seeds. What a miracle this is, how I get to be tilling the ground for my own life’s accumulations and legacies tomorrow, and how none of that could’ve happened without my own ancestral and community webs.
From what and where do we seek our values, and how? How do we practice this, and how do our energies align? What is our legacy, what will we leave? How do we repay the gifts our elders have bestowed upon us, and how do we practice accountability and responsibility to any ruptures, injuries, or wounds? To whom are we connected, and how? Am I accountable?
How are my relations? There is not a more powerful time in our history, as far as the four short decades I have been here that is, to ask questions like these.
The power of consciousness: choosing to witness and be mindful in your own life. To say thanks, to tend your tides of growth and release, of the season’s fruits being turned back to the earth. Marking with reverence the accompanying cycles of letting go, rest, renewal, death, rebirth. Knowing that all we can do is be true to our own self right now, and take whatever small actions we can just for today, allowing the heart to soften into the knowing of right now is plenty, is enough, embodying such wisdom… These, the lessons of reflection put into practice as the natural season ushers in the Underworld this week with Lunar Samhain. How that can burn, to open the heart in such a posture of releasing and allowing, how it can feel so counter to life’s frenzy, to pause right now. Be still. Be still with the wane. The release. Acknowledge the power of the season of the dark.
…tomorrow night, last harvest moon, sheath of layered lace and bounty coming up over the sea. Harvest moon peaks full this eve~
There is harvest wisdom right now in your every day. In practical ways, in the actions and reactions, the many details of the life you are presently living. The invitation right now is to look upon your world metaphorically, a wee bit deeper perhaps, and ask yourself how the details of right now, this week, fit the theme of your year.
You can color this in by considering how to look at those themes with an open heart and grateful eyes…The final Harvest season full moon comes early this year which marks for me the time I mindfully slow down, tune in to my conscious living day by day, get outside as much as possible and live in the luminescent sweetness of this transient seasonal middle ground, and soften my daily attitude to fixate upon the world with gratitude-eyes.
What is the bounty in this season of your life?
Harvest blessings dears. May the gifts of this and your life be dancing conscious blessings alive in your own two hands.
I walk a lot on empty beaches. It helps me breathe from muscly places in my belly that otherwise I can’t feel because they’re so deep. So last Monday I guess it was, walking along the roiled and wilen coast, beholding the brown and black and steel greys of Hurricane Maria’s deeps, there came this fleeting thought. You could go camping Thursday, if so and so falls into place…there’s a window you could squeeze it in and camp until work Friday at noon.
I went camping because I could and because it meant forcing myself, because it’s lofty camping on your own, the reality of it, and takes work to follow it through.
I set my tent on the bayside of one of our barrier islands that is also a national park. Basic. Satisfied. There was a natural arbor of wild grape vines behind my little dome that opened into a wooded purple stained path leading to the water. I cruised to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, windy still from the passing of Maria, a storm whose effect was surged and shuddered oceans, thankfully no impact on our lil mid-Atlantic spits of swampy forest and farm lands. It was 17 mph that day and the sea stacked her sets, breaking two and even three peaks one on top the other, crossing and cursing currents also ripped by longshore tides. I got to the beach and no one was in and barely anyone was there. Far out were two surfers catching nothing. I used my fins to swim and the lifeguard watched from a truck for 10 minutes before leaving me to my whim.
By the end of the swim I was restless. I went camping because care for my soul life and nurturing it is, at the end of the day, up to only me. It is not a pill I can take, it comes down to how I choose to feed the parts I feel but cannot see. I went back to camp, then walked out to the Bay. I wrote just to write, the other sure fire practice that personally illumines my life, helps me feel like I’m living my hours in a way that’s more filled in.
Now, it is harvest week, the last full moon of the growing season. Growth: concept of momentum, of stored energy completing its cycles of motion, of sugared sun translating from storage to fruit. The moon peaks full Thursday. From there on the cycles wheel us deeper and deeper underground.
I spent yesterday’s quiet practice reflecting on all the experiences of the year. It’s been a hard one. A flippen lot of pain, death and illnesses and other loss. It has also been rich with celebration and good relations: women’s medicine, and being close to the earth, to family joy, to art, to nurtured time with dear friends.
And in all, deep-tilling the ground from which I’ll grow my dreams.
Back at camp, over the bay the sun dropped. For a half hour or so I beheld the experience, did nothing other than witness just to see how that would go.
Walking back to my tent was twinkly twilight glee, an energy pouring into and out of me like a child. The fire I built was from kindling I hatcheted myself!! I ate fish cooked over the grate and these two experiences alone fulfilled me like nothing else I can really say…
Then the stars, how every one that appeared signaled some new part of myself that showed up and I want it to be clear, how the glee passed and how uncomfortable that was, sitting still with the funked out shit of my personal experiences this year. I sat and sat, unplugged 100% and decompressing from that, because I know unquestionably that while it isn’t always immediate: Nature heals the soul.
Eventually, many hours into the night, came peace, and the sweetness of being inwardly still, a being among beingness, with the burnt down embers of my fire and the marvel of all those specs of sparkle stars.
Nature restores my inward settings, it has yet again helped me process which is how I keep moving. Of that knowing, and the reality for me this year that writing and creative downtime are not only non-negotiables but that this has zero to do with production for commodity value, I am proud to say my Harvest this year is part of my day to day.
I emerge this Harvest week sure of the same ol medicine. The soul life is up to only me to tend for me, and its absence manifests in all ways physical and mental, of that it’s a guarantee.
That’s a lot of bounty I’d say, and so it was that Poetry came through to reflect it for me the next morning at camp over hot coffee and stunning late September blue, as Poetry expressing the Wild Nature does oh yes, oh yes it does!!
There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation, to wit, its own nature. The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being. Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole.
From “Compensation”, in Essays and Poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson