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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in winter

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Preparing for Spring

Rituals for Spiritual Revitalization

It starts for me just after Imbolc, I get that itch. That twinge of restlessness and that eager feeling every time the sun peeks through the clouds. Spring is near! Mentally I exclaim, “There’s only about 6 more weeks of frigid temps, coupled with mountains of ice and snow! Hooray!”

When the feeling begins to take hold of me, I need to make myself busy. I need to begin planning my spring activities right away. There is so much to do, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed and perplexed. However, it isn’t a bad kind of overwhelm, instead it is fun and exhilarating to consider the possibilities.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Leandra Witchwood
    Leandra Witchwood says #
    It seems there is plenty of time to ponder. We are about to get hit with another 10" of snow, so planning and thinking exactly wha
  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    Nice post! It gives me some things to ponder.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Anyone who has ever lived in the North can tell you about it: snowlight. Waking from an afternoon nap I knew immediately, by the light alone, that snow was falling. Snowlight.

What's most surprising is just how bright it is. Some years back at a Midwinter's Eve bonfire down at Coldwater Spring, the ritualists went on and on about how this night, being the solstice, was the darkest night. Unconscious irony is my favorite kind. While they talked darkness, we all stood there in a night striking for its brightness. We'd had so much snow that year that one could practically have read a newspaper by the ambient light from the drifts and sky. Snowlight.

In quality and color it more nearly resembles moonlight than anything else: like the Moon's, snow's light is reflected light. But moonlight comes from a source, and snowlight is ambient. In snowlight, one immerses.

Snowlight has a certain thickness, a nearly tangible quality to it. One thinks of snow as silent, unlike rain. But the Northern ear knows that you can indeed hear snow. It's a high, crystalline ringing, all those snowflakes chiming together as they fall, in which even familiar sounds echo strangely. The same is true of the light, as it bounces wildly back and forth from flake to falling flake. Snowlight.

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A Celebration of Spring and Renewal!

Merry meet, fellow Witches and Pagans!

Another few months pass and another festival graces our lives. This time, it's Imbolc (or Imbolg/Oimelc), a festival of spring and renewal with its origins among the ancient Celts (unless you're in the southern hemisphere, in which cases it's Lughnasadh!). In celebration of the holiday, we've gathered all of our Imbolc-related posts and put them in one big pile for your easy reading. I realize this is a bit late, but hopefully you'll still find something to appreciate in it!

May your spring be warm and bright and the remaining winter be easy in its passing!

-Aryós Héngwis

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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

(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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