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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in winter

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Many years ago, from some long forgotten source, I read that the goddess Hecate's sacred festival was celebrated on January 31. Although I have never been able to find the source or corroborate this information (Stewart and Janet Farrar's classic “The Witches' Goddess” mentions August 13 for her annual festival as well as the night of the Full moon), I have celebrated this feast every year, in preparation for Imbolc and as an entry into the coldest (but not darkest) part of the Winter.

My experience of Hecate is as a seasonal Goddess. I sense her presence in October, as the frost bitten garden finally dies back, as the light deepens into honey and amber, in the first tantalizing days of Hallowstide, the first days of the thinning Veil. She is present in the Descent, and in the Underworld, and in the solemn, silent movements of our beloved dead. She is present in the rapidly darkening year, and she helps to midwife in the promise of the sacred Child, reborn as the Sun at the Winter Solstice.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Leisa Reynolds
    Leisa Reynolds says #
    My mother passed 21 years ago this Jan 31 and every year since her passing I have gotten up and taken a deep breath and thought to
  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester says #
    Thanks for sharing this, Leisa! My mom and gramma have died in the past 2 years, and the loss is so present with me, at this time
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love this :-)
  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester says #
    Thanks, Deborah! signed, squeeing fangirl of your work!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Visible Gods

So I'm standing there naked in the kitchen.

Mind you, this isn't something I make a point of doing. It's the end of January, and this is Minnesota. Early in the morning, the kitchen is just as cold as the rest of the house, no place to stand around naked.

You have to understand that at this time of year, the North becomes a desert. Our intense cold wrings every trace of moisture from the air. If you don't slather on moisturizer, you turn into an ice-mummy. Fortunately, there's no need to resort to bear-grease, like in the old days.

So, I'd just toweled off from the shower and rubbed down with body-lotion. Waiting for my skin to absorb it, I ran downstairs to plug in the waffle iron.

That's when it happened.

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The moon has not come up yet, and my neighborhood is dark and cold. It strikes me how very dark it is tonight, compared with just a few weeks ago. The holiday lights are gone. The hills behind my house are dark as pitch, but less than a month ago I could have easily made out street after street in sharp detail, because the stringed lights were so bright and covered so many houses and trees. Tonight is very dark, but clear so the stars are very bright. It is biting cold out, with a sharp breeze out of the North. Nothing is stirring out there. The trees are bare and hard as wire, there is no hint of a bud anywhere. It is Winter, deep and austere.

Once the glitter of the holiday season all gets put away, and we settle into Winter's deep freeze and stillness, we might feeled challenged or distracted. For many of us, Winter means increased expense, work and worry. Snow is beautiful indeed, til the fifteenth time you've had to shovel inches of it off your driveway, and then join a white-knuckled, treacherous commute. It's wearying, carrying extra layers, taking cautious steps. Everything seems to take longer. We feel less vital, cooped up, perhaps depressed by the cold weather and dark skies. While there can be so much beauty and revelry in Winter, it is for many people the hardest, least joyful time of the year.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Winter

(Art by Barbara Bargiggia)

Ah, January. In like a lion roaring exciting resolutions and plans, out like a tired bear hibernating in a Winter cave. New or continued schedules after the holiday break quickly become rote trudging performed in the icy cold of the bleakest part of Winter. Short days don’t seem to hold enough of the activities we wanted, and we find ourselves playing catch-up with little energy input from Sun or Earth’s abundance. Plans for early bed and early rising fall to the freeze-out of not being able to stop finishing tasks until after bedtime. Or to a seized-up will. Emotions expand and freeze, slicing with icy edges the hearts of these organic creatures trudging through the dark, cold, short days. It’s enough to make you want to hole up and wait it out. Let Spring bring the fuel and the will to rise again.

Until the crocuses or groundhogs peek out and whisper of Spring’s coming, it seems a natural time to pause and rest, perhaps do inner-work in the quiet space of our own heads and hearts. Light a fire in the hearth and stir pots, stare into the fire, find underworld songs rolling around your tongue, and find tangles in your forgotten hair.

But the time does come to fetch more firewood, or you’ll freeze. The stirred pots eventually give forth sustenance and medicine and more will need to be added or you won’t eat tomorrow. There’s life in there, and it demands to live. It has slowed, but it will move… even in the cold, even in the dark, even before any message from Green Spring arrives to promise quickening. This isn’t death, it’s just a pale rehearsal. With a glowing ember inside.

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Posted by on in Signs & Portents
A Merry Post for a Merry Day!

Happy tiding and many blessings!

Our Samhain/Halloween post went over great last October so we though we'd try a repeat performance by gathering all of our posts for Yule and the Winter Solstice from over the last month or so. As before, we've also included some extra bits from around the web that we thought you might find interesting.

We hope you have a very merry Yule and a happy New Year's! Cheers!

-Aryós Héngwis

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Curse the Winter Whining

In Wisconsin, we’ve turned cold, had a snow storm (or several) and had our first real slow down for the winter.  I’ve heard nothing but complaints about how we haven’t had cold weather like this since the 1800s.  I work with several people who are from the south and they are questioning why they moved to Wisconsin. 

It is easy to get wrapped up in the complaining and the whining about how bad it is.  With arthritis in every joint in my body, the cold is hard to deal with as it makes me ache.  The slippery sidewalks and roads can be treacherous.  It isn’t fun to drive down the road following someone who can’t drive in the snow or worse to skid around the road rather than driving down it.

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Winter's Beauty - in the cold and wet...

Winter in Britain – it’s dark and it’s wet.  Not very cold, compared to what I grew up with in Canada, but the damp just seaps into your bones.  It’s a different kind of winter, one that I still sometimes have trouble getting to grips with.

The darkness is the first thing that my body has difficulty coping with.  If it’s dark outside, my body wants to sleep. I’m very much a daytime person.  Here in the UK, at a latitude of  52.0594° N (where I grew up it was 45.9500° N) it gets dark a lot earlier than what I’m used to, and it’s not light outside much before 8.30 or 9am in the darkest part of the year.  Hibernation mode kicks in.  I struggle to get out of bed even though I’ve had a great sleep if it’s still dim out. Come summer, and it’s light at 3.30am, I can get out and greet the sunrise no problem.

The darkness has a real thick, heavy quality to it sometimes, with overcast skies and damp air all around you, sounds hushed in the shadows.  Like a blanket, it can completely cover you and, if you like your head above the covers, can seem stifling.  I’ve had to learn to work with the darkness, to enjoy it, to see its beauty.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is so evocative, Joanna. I lived in Stratford, Ontario for 3 years - which is in THE SNOW BELT. We dearly want to go to Glast
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Hi Ted! It's a different kind of cold, for sure - very different from growing up in Canada, with -20 to -30 C. Visit Glastonbury

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