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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in winter

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the willows

Osier willows really come into their own during the winter. Their finer branches are a striking orangey red colour, and once the leaves are down, these are especially visible. In a grey, wintery landscape where most of the colours are washed out, osiers willows stand out, wild and flaming. They are all the more glorious because what’s around them lacks for colour.

When the leaves are down, many trees are harder to identify, especially for the tree novice. Osier willows are easier to identify at this time of year. Willows are generally tricky to tell apart from each other. According to The Woodland Trust there are some 60 hybrids of osier willow grown in the UK alone. There are many different kinds of willow, and many hybrids as well. They take some getting to know. Willows favour damp places, and have a very long history of use in human crafts and constructions.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy Christmas!

so this is Christmas / and what have you done
another year over / a new one just begun

Christmas Eve was always a favorite of mine when I was a kid.  We’d eat sloppy joes, go to church, open presents, enjoy hot chocolate from the machine at the gas station, and look at holiday lights.  (Yes, we opened presents on Christmas Eve.  Santa brings presents for you to open on Christmas Day, duh!)  One of my family’s favorite memories is when I came home from my first semester of college.  My mom was in nursing school at the time and busy working at the hospital that night.  I borrowed the old station wagon and took my sisters and their friends out to look at lights.  We might have listed to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” 1,000,000 times that evening.  My sisters still tease me about my annoying obsession with this Christmas song (but I won’t let them forget how they mixed up the sugar and salt for the cookies that year.)

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I know it's an unusual interpretation but I think of a Nightmare Before Christmas as a Thanksgiving movie. The Santa Clause with

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Goddessing Cycle: Resting

Cross-posted at Goddessing From the Heart).

This post is the second (after Releasing) in my year of sharing the Goddessing Cycle, which is the flow of energy and draw toward ritual I experience in my relationship with Goddess. The phase of resting, for me, extends from December through February. The name is deceptive, as if hibernation and drawing inward are the focus of this season. Rather, I believe it is a time of deepening into the fullness of our inner world, and then a slow but steady rush of growth outward into the world around us.

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Posted by on in Signs & Portents
The Darkest Night of the Year

Merry Yule! Yule, also known as Yuletide or Jól, is one of the ways in which the Winter Solstice (Midwinter) is celebrated throughout the world. Corresponding closely (though not precisely) to the date of Christmas, Yule has been celebrated by German cultures for centuries and become blended with Christmas traditions along the way. Of course, down south today is actually Litha, the Summer Solstice.

As we always do for these public occasions of festivity we’ve gathered all our related content here for you to enjoy. We hope you have a happy holiday!

—Aryós Héngwis

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Signs of Spring

It’s December, and here in the UK that means grey skies, dampness, cold conditions, bare branches... it would seem like madness to be talking about signs of spring.

Except that I can see them.

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  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Very well put, Nimue...thank you for so beautifully sharing a technically obvious but very frequently overlooked and unconsidered

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sound and Silence

The real in us is silent; the acquired is talkative.” – Kahlil Gibran

In my first post here, “An Introduction to Creating an Element-Based Spirituality”, I pointed out that Native American tribes, in addition to the four elements, also include in a fifth element of Sacred Sound. Shortly after I published that, it occurred to me that this was something I might want to verify.

I had remembered reading (or hearing) it some time ago in what I had believed to be a reliable source but now I can’t even remember where I read it or, by extension, just how reliable it may have been. Nor have I even been able to find any references or information online regarding any such specific belief.

Naturally, I know that sound is indeed sacred and powerful in Native American tribes and culture, as is illustrated by its use for healing (among many other spiritual contexts) via flutes and drums. I know that the Thunderbirds are sacred and dwell in the watery quarter of the West. I know that many vocables and wordless chants were also used for multiple purposes.

However, I’m no longer so sure that there actually was believed to be a fifth element of sound, per se, as far as any Native Americans were concerned. This served as a reminder to me of just how much modern, “New Age” and “Neopagan” information and enthusiasm regarding Native American spirituality, while usually well intentioned, is often simply completely erroneous.

I am loath to spread misinformation or fall victim to misappropriation (these days often unfortunately confused with the relatively less harmful and seemingly inevitable term and action of “appropriation”), so unless anyone can comment and maybe enlighten me as to where I may have heard/read this or if it actually has any basis in truth, I will have to clarify that, while a nice idea, it may not be contextually accurate.

That being said, Sound is still a very powerful and sacred force and my search to correct myself led me to reflect on it and realize that maybe it can still be considered a sort of element. On the same token then, so too is Silence.

Many creation stories have to do with sound, a word or words being used to create realms and life. Or to destroy them. In the Finnish epic poem, Kalevala, the main hero is called a wizard and a minstrel, and his famous singing of legendary songs leads a young rival from the North to challenge him to a fantastic, mountain-crumbling, ocean-heaving duel of magical songs and chants that have power of their own.

Sound is vibration, more technically defined as pressure change, particle displacement, and simply the changing motion of molecules through matter. So, sound has the power to influence or create, but sound itself is the result of something else that already exists and that is moving and vibrating, thus putting out compression waves. Creating sound is a great power. In all our different practices we all know about names, words of power, of sacred songs, chants, mantras, etc.

We also know, at least on some level, that even all of our everyday words have power. Yet this seems to be something easily forgotten, particularly in an age where communication is made faster and easier all the time, yet ironically leads to more communications breakdowns and misunderstandings. “Raise your vibrations” is first accomplished by raising your standards of both behavior and speech, both of which put out and define your vibe.

How often do even the most intuitive, learned and “enlightened” of us still say things we don’t mean, things that hurt others, or that attract energy we’d rather not want? Probably far more than a lot of us realize. Perhaps you’ve known someone who simply loves to hear the sound of their own voice, someone who will carry on and on talking about everything they (think they) know, everything this god told them or that they read in that book or this UPG or that thing that so-and-so claims that is actually bullshit, so on and so forth? Or have you simply had your heart broken or your world turned upside-down by hateful or false words?

Well, ‘tis the season to be silent. Literally. We’re coming into Winter now, a time when life slows down (in theory, natural life anyway), much life even ceases, blankets of snow muffle the Earth and fluid, babbling water freezes up into her solid, silent form.




Water is a very relevant element this time of year. It is the only element – pretty much the only thing – that exists in three different states: solid, liquid and gaseous. What if we would truly “be like water”? What if we allowed ourselves to shift and adapt more naturally, to really mirror the energy of the season, to know when to flow and when to freeze? When to speak and when to be silent? There is such power in sound and speech, and there is just as much power in silence; in knowing when not to speak or make sound.

When was the last time you sat in complete silence for an extended period of time? I realize I might be putting the question to the wrong crowd, albeit rhetorical, assuming that many of you do indeed meditate in silence regularly, or otherwise spend significant time not talking, not typing away texts or emails, not blaring music or a show in the background. However, I think we could always use even more silence.

This is an overstimulating age in which so many people are competing to be heard, in which we often can’t go to any social setting and have conversations without everyone talking over and interrupting each other. There is still a general desire, even expectation, to fill everything up with sound, noise, talk, busy-ness, distractions. Much of this gives many people, or is the result of, an inflated sense of self-importance. Mankind in general has a terribly grandiose sense of self-importance and feels like it just needs to make noise because it can, like an infant shrieking while discovering its own voice.

Winter humbles us. Winter silences us. Winter wants us to go inward, to reflect, to think, to really know ourselves long before we start opening our mouths and letting all kinds of energy and noise spill forth. We need to learn our truths instead of trying to tell others what theirs are or should be, in any way. We need to know how little we know, and understand that even what we do know doesn’t have to be shouted out all the time. We need to enjoy the sound of silence.


After all, as Maurice Switzer put it, "It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt of it."


Featured image: The Hermit (detail, enhanced) by Pamela Colman-Smith
"Seasons - Winter" by Erté

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Snow Flower

A philosophical lot, Northrons.

I was out this morning shoveling this winter's first inch. (Up here in the North Country, snow comes progressively: First Flurry, First Laying Snow, First Shoveling Snow.)

Every single person that went past had something to say, a continuing conversation. You could construct an entire philosophy from what they said.

Well, it's here.

Early or late, it always comes.

Sure is beautiful, though.

Northern fatalism? Not really. Fatalism is laying down and letting it cover you. If this is fatalism, it's a fatalism of honor, a fatalism that spurs to action. If we're going to go down, we'll go down fighting, shovels—like swords—in hand.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    So beautiful, these words! We don't get much snow in Texas, perhaps every 3rd or 4th year, but it enchants our scorched landscape
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My own thought was intimately shaped by the rites and mythology of the old Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland back in the 70s.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My role playing games set in Japan or with an Anime theme mention the Yuki Onna (Snow Woman).
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    I've heard our winter attitude up here called "Nordic Zen"...you just do winter. It's a waste of energy to get upset if you hate i
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    During the snowy winter of 2011, I attended a Midwinter's Eve rite down at Coldwater Spring at new Moon: dark o' the Sun, dark o'

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