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Och, I keep screwing up the prayers. I keep forgetting that it's Winter now.
Temple worship has its own style, like set prayers. But even set prayers don't always stay the same.
Red Coat crowned with antler
(in winter: blue)
that sit cross-legged in the Mother's heart
to you, to you, my Stag,
I make my prayer.
My best friend has a mantra she says when her children are being difficult, "I love my child, I love my child, I LOVE my child …" and it helps to some extent when dealing with the upsetting behaviors of those we love. I've tried it out a few times myself, and it tends to lead me to laugh or at least to breathe and reconnect with my priorities.
Lately, the mantra hasn't been working for me. As a birthday promise to myself to change some of my own poor habits, I disconnected myself from Facebook for a month (still going), because it had become such a big distraction, it was bleeding into my writing time, my cleaning time, and worst of all, time with my kids. So, I set up a filter so all my notifications go to a special folder instead of my inbox, I deleted the related apps from my phone, and stop myself when I unconsciously start typing in the URL....
August, 1992, I was orientating myself around “Jerusalem of fire”, UNTSO headquarters, the Old City of Jerusalem, Gilo–my neighborhood, and my spacious, well-appointed cottage. The cottage, a condominium-type dwelling, overlooked a wadi and the Old City of Jerusalem. “Jerusalem of fire” as my Reiki clients often called it, attracted many moths to its bright flame. Being the wife of a UN military officer, I soon determined that I was here to observe the sights, sounds, and smells of the Holy Land, and at the suggestion of my first client in the Old City of Jerusalem, to write a book about my experiences in Israel. That’s when I began to keep a detailed journal.
My cat, Pumpkin Peace, a black and white mix (Jewish and Arab, I always said) was with us. She was a feral, undomesticated cat that I had found beside a garbage bin in Nahariya the previous year, and had adopted. She often jumped into my lap as I sat at the computer to write my stories. She was my 'familiar', had taken on part of my soul....
So, one day the Interfaith Council asks the witch the deliver the opening prayer.
(By the way, this actually happened. My long-time friend and colleague Macha Nightmare has been active in Interfaith for years.)
She stands up.
“Witches dance to pray,” she says. “So I'm going to teach you one of our oldest, most sacred dances. It's called the Spiral Dance.”
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....
Winter Solstice and Christmas stories are all about birthing: the light returns, the divine becomes human.
Before I continue about Magdalene, Mary, and birth-giving, ending with a prayer for us all, here are four versions of my season's greetings card for you (including one in French), images celebrating embodiment. Clicking on each thumbnail will take you to a larger display.