It was sunny and bright today and lovely. Our own sort of Groundhog Day to see if there will be more weeks of bitter winter. My children played for hours out in the snow swinging and doing the recycling. Waking the world of our sleeping gardens with their giggles and whispers. Throwing snowballs at each other and exploring the grounds for long buried forgotten treasures rising up through melting snow.
Tonight it is the Superbowl and we watched a smidge to celebrate the pageantry then switched it to Chronicles of Narnia where the White witch – naughty evil and bitter though she may be – is still my vision of what the Winter Goddess can look like. I just imagine her with better more loving parents and fairies who taught her to dance and play in the snow while making friends with the neighbor children. But for looks – 10 – Tilda it is. I just love the design elements for her character and her delivery in the role was perfect. Long live Aslan and poor dear misdirected Jadis.
Tonight is the start of Imbolc or CANDLEMAS a Sabbat (holiday) for wiccans and green witches. We leave a bowl of milk and a muffin or carrots outside for the spirit of the Goddess and her animals to take comfort in our belief in all things kind and comforting. I am sure the rabbits and the raccoons and mice appreciate it.
I also like thinking of Brigid as the fire Goddess bringing hope to us all reflected in red hair and flushed skin. Pale as the moon and snow but with the reddest lips and eyes brown and flickering like sparked woods in the fire. No one to play her in my mind she lives uncast but there is a lot of art through history to showcase her beauty.
My baby says she saw a chipmunk today which would mean that winter will be almost over. It could have been a mouse. It has been a harsh winter for the mice but here where there is a constant stream of bird seed and popcorn they flourish, as long as they stay out of the house – where the cats await their presence with much glee. A Chipmunk in our world means that spring will be here soon and we watch for them with much hope.
For me and my family, CANDLEMAS is a celebration of the turn of the wheel –the shift of the earth (in our hemisphere) towards light and the start of new projects and for new focus. A time of initiation and the burning of candles and small cauldron fires. There was old fashion cooking in the fireplace when we were little and jumping over bonfires was the start of an all night party where the kids roasted marshmallows on sticks and in the sweet winters of California we would dance in a circle around the fires and sing sweet songs of spring come home – these usually took place right on the beach. There would be a family gathering where people brought covered dishes to rival the Lutherans and flowers were put into the ocean with prayers of thanks and promise. We made crafts from wheat and corn then burned them with such childlike abandon. Lot of dancing and ribbons.
The women in my family not shy with spell casting or kitchen witchery would share stories and recipes. Lotions and potions and smudge anyone willing with white sage and lavender.
My mother liked to make animal masks and put them out on baskets – people would be a unicorn or a bear or an owl, whatever energy they were looking for. So much laughter and singing.
We have all gone separate ways and yet not. I still remember and phone calls are made with good wishes and love. All the things that holidays should bring. I share the rituals with my own children and they will put their own slant on things. One to many pancakes mixed with excitement this morning and one of my daughters threw up all over the floor. Wild play acting and another is hit in the nose with someone’s head. It is a day like others but not. There is a hum in my spirit. I know as I have shared with my children this day – that spring and summer will come. In times past others did not know this with certainty. The world was more magical and science was held close by priestly casts that held power with their knowledge that the seasons were set and stone would cast shadows that illuminated the path forward. We share more freely with increasing speed all that we know and all that we believe or do not believe. We accept that others may not see things as we see them and we know with certainty that Spring will come and that the harsh, cold, fear filled winter will melt away and feed the rivers of knowledge running into the communal seas of time where all of us will float together on through space. There is freedom fueled by fires of hope. Children can go to school and learn all there is to learn, limitless with knowledge now. Freedom never known in our history opens wider daily for more to be hugged by her presence. Knowledge and Freedom. The lights against fear and oppression. The flames burn brighter.
To my sisters in faraway lands on the other side – today we all work on our quilts and blankets – today we here know the snow will melt and the birds will sing and soft grass will blanket our way to market. Today you sing a song on the other side of the wheel. The hot summer buzzes and shimmers and you shake blankets out on the line, and sing a song of the coming cool breezes and the falling of leaves. Our blankets equally warm, feed our souls with the rituals of returning.
I wish you many wonders. I light a candle for you and whisper to the flame.
We are all truly one and the same.