February is probably my favorite month. It has little to do with the season and a lot to do with it being the month I was born. For such a short month, I always feel like there is so much going on in it.
Imbolc, Candlemas, Brigid
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First thing every morning throughout five or six months of the year, I build and light a fire in my fireplace. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to stay in bed past my husband so that he can warm the house before I crawl out from underneath my cozy flannel sheets and down comforter, but most mornings my duty is the fire.
When the routine starts in November, I do it begrudgingly. I dislike getting up and fumbling in the dark for my fleece sweatshirt and thermal socks only to walk out into the arctic living room and kneel on the frigid tile in front of the fireplace. This winter I got clever and talked my husband into bringing wood in for the morning before he goes to bed each night. At least now I don’t have to go out in sub-zero temperatures in my pajamas anymore. That seemed really insane....
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.
Sometimes, where we least expect it, we can find spiritual communion. This isn't my usual monthly post with tips and advice, but perhaps this anecdote has something to offer you, as it did me.
It was my birthday about two weeks ago, and though I wasn't planning a birthday party, the gathering planned for testing my new fire pit and grill ended up being scheduled the weekend after. It seemed a good time: just after my thirty-sixth, just before Mabon. I was surprised when I did a head count from R.S.V.P.s that we were expecting up to twenty-seven people, something our house isn't used to accommodating, but I was determined to make it work.
Then, the morning of the gathering, my one year old had sniffles, and not knowing whether it was an on-coming cold or just an allergy, I posted a quick update to my guests. In under three hours, I had fifteen cancellations (understandable) and a fridge crammed full of food I'd bought and prepped specifically to feed the large guest list (unexpected).
By the start time, I wasn't sure anyone was coming, though I went to build a fire anyway. Then someone showed up: a friend from university I hadn't seen since I'd graduated. We sat alone together and carried on small talk, while I felt first embarrassed at not having anyone else there and then embarrassed because I didn't know what I was doing. I'd never grilled before, nor had I done so by starting a wood fire outdoors. (Can you tell I work mostly with water and earth?) As I'd expected other witches there, some far more experienced with fire who could give me a boost, and maybe join in a touch of spirit-calling to welcome the fire, I felt wholly out of my -- pardon the pun -- element.
My friend started giving advice from his own experiences camping, and we tried to implement them together. Shortly after, one of my dearest friends arrived, bringing along his mother, whom I knew from online conversations, and his brother whom I knew not at all.
Feeling a little relieved, we proceeded to acquaint ourselves to one another while discussing the best way to start a fire. As it turned out, two of the guests including my friend's brother, were experts. Together, they worked to both encourage the smoldering wood and to teach me how to work with fire in a practical way I'd not learned before.
Though there were a few bumps in the process -- and one very stubborn sweet potato that refused to cook -- after two hours of talk and finesse with fire, we had all managed to enjoy a host of delectable, locally-grown vegetables and meats grilled by our own hands.
What's more, we created camaraderie through the evening's adventure that led to a natural moment of reverent silence between us. Though each of us were from different backgrounds and honoring different traditions, the silence became a communion in which, serene and smiling, we found spiritual connection.
For several breaths, without intent to guide it there, our small group became one -- with each other, the food, the fire, and the night. The embarrassment and disappointment I'd felt earlier in the day had burned away, and leaving a spiritual community created just for the purpose of one evening and to teach me an important lesson.
Though my usual band of friends who share in similar spiritual pursuits were unable to join with me that evening, I learned that no matter who I'm with, it's possible to create a supportive, spiritual community whenever needed. Our paths need not be the same, only the willingness to sit with one another, share in the simple joys, and open our hearts to the possibility of communion.
Thus were my needs met that night, and I realized, have been at every point in my life when I needed connection of this sort. This event helped me recognize and appreciate the abundance and connection we bring to one another, and all it took was sharing a fire.
Of course, it's been a week now, and despite a lot of creativity, our fridge is still burgeoning with food. What a blessed challenge to have!
May your Mabon and harvest be as abundant!
This is the second of my series of posts on how I connect to the elements from a Southern Hemisphere perspective living on the western coast of Australia. Previously, I called in Air, in the East.
I now turn to the North, and call in passion, creation, desire, heat: I call to you, o Fire! Standing in the circle, we have already established a sense of presence in the breath of life, the whisper is on the winds, the intention is set, the inspiration has arrived. Fire is called next as it now has the Air to breathe, to ignite a sense of drive into what we do in this space, a flurry of sparks: let's turn that whisper into a roar....
Fire-- the element we celebrated this year at Where Womyn Gather! In my June 13th Full Moon Share I wrote about how this year’s fire energy allowed me to work on my relationship to anger. Yet the fire energy manifested for me in other ways as well-- through love and courage.
I loved the fiery hugs I received from sisters dressed in reds, yellows, oranges and golds! Love for my sisters at festival-- many of whom I only see in person at this time. Love for the sacred space created on that beautiful land as I prayed in the sweat lodge. Love for new found friends as I met sisters for the first time who I had previously only known virtually. So much love for my Goddess Sister tribe!
So much love. Love and courage-- freely given and received for 4 magical days.
I found the courage to speak up for myself and make my needs known! Courage witnessed in sisters sharing their stories-- in the Red Tent Temple, the Sweat Lodge, or while I painted their bodies. Courage to facilitate my Connect to Your Inner Fire workshop. Courage to hold sacred space for sisters who journaled, cried, shared and connected to powerful parts of themselves. Goddess sisters who gifted me the courage to continue on my calling, knowing I am making a difference!
Gratitude-- something we celebrate every year at Where Womyn Gather! Gratitude for the opportunities to experience love and courage in the sacred sister space. Gratitude for continued opportunities to offer my Connect to Your Inner Fire workshop. Gratitude for fire-- fire that feeds the love in my heart. Gratitude for fire-- fire in my belly lighting my path.
Our circle is open but never broken sisters. I let go with love and light. Blessings to you my Goddess sister tribe! ❤