One Imbolc, former pagan blogger Teo Bishop wrote about creating community poetry for use in liturgy based on the starting line, "I keep vigil to the fire in my heart." As someone who frequently experiences spontaneous poetry in the sacred spot in the woods behind my house, an experience I refer to as theapoetics, I was instantly captivated by this idea. Imbolc has a natural connection to the cycles of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding and the fire in my own heart burns brightly for these pivotal life experiences. So, I went down to the woods, opened my mouth and this is what emerged…
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of the Sacred Oak.
of the Sacred Flame.
shape our lives
in the cauldron of destiny.
Ignite our creativity
forge our passions.
in the language of poetry
and hot metal.
Keeper of flame
hope and hearts.
Enliven our work
guide our steps
inspire our message.
(modified from earlier poem: Woodspriestess: Brigid)
If you pause in darkness what does your body have to tell you? What do your dreams have to tell you? What does the frozen ground have to tell you? What do the spirits of place have to tell you?
What song can only be sung by you?
What emberheart can only be ignited by your breath?
What path have your feet found?
What messages are carved in stone and etched on leaf for your eyes and in your name?
What promise are you keeping?
Time for your light to shine
from within the sheltering dark.
I dream of a sacred fire
where a family circles,
of family, spirit, hearth, and home.
Light the fire
with your children.
Sing with your partner.
Create a temple
of your hearts,
A simple seed corn ritual is a lovely addition to your New Year's Eve or New Year's Day celebration. It can be completed with a group, a family, or on your own. After reviewing your year and celebrating your accomplishments and successes, consider what you would like to save from this year’s “harvest” to plant in the new year. Take a piece of corn from a pretty dish, close your eyes, and let the seed corn share its dream with you. The above lines are what my seed corn (actually, a piece of unpopped popcorn) had to share with me.
What have you harvested to plant in the new year? What dream are you dreaming?...
As I mentioned in a recent post, the winter season prompts within me a desire to withdraw and reflect, mirroring the natural rhythm of the earth which so clearly says: let things go, it is time to hibernate.
This year I cocoon with my new baby. Though I have three other children, this new baby was the first child whose development and arrival perfectly mirrored the wheel of the year. Conceived during the first month of the new year, taking root in the darkness of winter’s end, beginning to bud during the springtime and coming into full bloom during the summer. And, then, with the season’s spiral turn into fall, when many beautiful things are harvested, his birth: October 30, into my welcoming hands in the sunlight bright morning in my living room. Now, with the steady progress of winter, we curl together in a small, new world. We cocoon in the cave of our own home, the size of the world re-sized to the size of my bed, kitchen table, and rocking chair. This is the fourth trimester, the time in which the baby continues to develop his nervous system and continues to live within the context of the mother’s body. I am his habitat. His place. His home is in my arms.
“Only in the deepest silence of night
the stars smile and whisper among themselves.”
(quoted in Dear Heart, Come Home page 52)
As I prepare our family's winter solstice ritual for this Sunday evening, I feel moved to share our family's tradition and ritual process. I'd love to hear from readers in the comments with their own family traditions! We have celebrated the winter solstice together as our primary family ritual for the last eleven years. There are several elements that remain constant from year to year and other elements that vary based on new ideas or projects that we decide to incorporate for that year.
The following is a brief explanation of three of our core traditions, which is then followed by a full ritual outline for this year's ceremony! Make sure to read through to the end of my ritual outline for links to even more posts with further ideas and information.
In 2013, I engaged in a year-long Woodspriestess experiment in which I visited the same place in the woods behind my house every day for an entire year. The experience described in this post occurred eight months into my experiment...
“Oh my GAWD!!!!! I just STEPPED ON an ARMADILLO!!!!!!”
Yes, that is correct, I stepped squarely on a genuine, real live armadillo on my way through the woods last night. I’d gotten “too busy” to visit the woods during the day and by the time I made my way down there, it was totally dark. I opted to go out without a flashlight, feeling a bit smug, if I do say so myself, that I know these woods so well and am just so connected that I don’t even need a flashlight to find my way and then…STEP…bizarre-growling-squeal-grunt-and-scuttle and me screaming the above. My first thought as I grasped what had happened was actually to try to take a picture for a blog post, but by then it was too late and only the scaly tail was dimly visible under a nearby shrub! By the time I stood on the rocks, I was laughing semi-hysterically and my heart was pounding with the adrenalin and surprise. I reflected again on how very many creatures share these woods with me and I wondered how many other woodspriestesses of various species cross these very stones each day. I think of this space as “mine,” but clearly an armadillo also finds it a useful nighttime exploration place.