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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in winter

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Winterscapes by Hakan Strand Star Snow Covered Trees in Winter


Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver.”

“My country's not a country, it's Winter.”

(Gilles Vigneault)


Oof: five below. The Ninth Day of Yule, and our first sub-zero temperature of the Winter. It hasn't been this cold for ten months. Well, folks, this is it: Winter is well and truly here.

You never really get used to it, the Cold. After a while it seems to take on a life of its own, to become an entity in its own right: the Hag you cannot see, but only feel.

Ultimately, Cold becomes a way of life. The long underwear goes on and stays on. You leave extra time to get things done, because everything takes longer. (This morning it took me 15 minutes to chip the car out of its carapace of ice: this with the defrost and heat going full blast all the while, mind you. Winter Survival Tip #1: start the car and let it warm up before you begin clearing it.) Keep your face covered. Don't go out with a wet head. Moisturize or die. (Ah, life in the Winter desert.) A driveway is cleared one shovelful at a time.

During the Summer, you close up the house during the day, and open it again at night. Now it's just the opposite.

To open, or close up, though: actually, it's hard to decide. Should I open the blinds and the curtains to let the sunlight in—sunlight warms—or keep them closed against the cold? (When it's this cold, you learn to stay away from perimeters.) In terms of keeping warmth in and cold out, I'm guessing that it's probably a 50/50 proposition. Nonetheless, in the end I invariably cave and open to the light. It may not feel warm on the skin, but the beauty of the young sunlight never fails to lift my spirit. Psychological warmth is still warmth.

Let those in more fortunate climates cringe, and wonder why we stay. Up here in Cold Country, we grok Beltane in ways that most Southrons never, ever will.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Slush Bus: 1942 | Shorpy Old Photos | Photo Sharing

 As the Northern hemisphere enters Winter, a bit of seasonal humor from that bilious old Fascist, Ezra Pound, to the tune of Sumer Is Icumen In, the oldest song in English (circa 1350) to which we still have both words and music,.

Pound's piece, in mock Middle English, turns the original on its head. One is about the joys of spring in the natural world, in which humans appear not at all; the other evokes the discomforts of urban winter in a world entirely human, in which nature is reduced to the inconveniences that it brings. (His reference to "winter's balm [=ointment]" refers ironically to the road-slop with which the passing bus has just sprayed him.) The implied contrasts between the two offer a mordant critique of what the West has become. Even Fascists have their occasional points.

You can hear a spirited Winter Solstice performance of this modern classic by the Bayesian choir here (though the audience clearly doesn't get the joke).

Happy Winter!


Antient Music

Winter is icumen in,

lhude sing, Goddamm.

Raineth drop and staineth slop,

and how the wind doth ramm:

sing Goddamm!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Premium Vector | Falling christmas shining snow, fog and wind at dark night  sky. winter holidays storm with heavy snowfall, snowflakes flying in the  air.

Anyone that lives in Minnesota knows that it's less work—a lot less work—to shovel two inches of snow six times than it is to shovel 12 inches of snow once. 6 x 2 ≠ 12 x 1.

Call it Minnesota arithmetic.

It's our first big snow of the Winter. They're saying 8 to 12. Yikes.

All day, the city has been in battening mode, preparing. The grocery stores looked like the day before Thanksgiving, as everyone stocked up.

It's an annual ritual, and everyone's invited. For one brief moment, partisanship and denominationalism are laid aside; for now, we're all in this together, a Blizzard Fellowship. Neighbors help each other shovel out, and strangers push strangers out of snowbanks.

I go out to shovel the first two inches. It's really coming down hard. That's fine with me: call me crazy, but I actually enjoy shoveling snow. I'll take a good blizzard over your hurricane or lava flow any day of the lunar month, thanks very much. No wonder I live here.

I clear the driveway and front sidewalk, then the sidewalks of the neighbors on both sides, just for good measure. "Why do we live here again?" a woman asks, walking past. It's the traditional question.

I give her the ritual answer: "Because we're all clinically insane."

She laughs. "I keep forgetting," she says, trudging on into the wind.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_14884681_1809846729227541_4275433016924022846_o.jpgMay there be peace before us.
May there be peace beneath us.
May there be peace around us.
May there be peace within us.

I write each winter about how I feel pulled in two energetic directions at this time of year and those directions feel in opposition to one another: the inward call to descend, hibernate, reflect, renew, incubate, stew and brew up new magic, listen, wait, watch and feel, and the outer call to produce, perform, keep up, do, be, move, give, create.

This week, I saw that my own Past Self from about eight years ago had shared this quote and I’m taking it to heart:

“Focus is often a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack

At this time of year I recognize that I often feel a type of defeat, like I’m having to “give up” on the year, on the things I thought I was going to do, etc. and each and every year I have trouble with that point of surrender—with acknowledging what didn’t come to pass, what could not be, what has to wait, and what can be laid aside. After I struggle and wrestle and freak out and whirl and sometimes even weep over the things undone, the surrender moment comes and I realize: “Yep. Not happening,” and there is a relief or release to that moment of letting go. After that, I usually remember that the end of the year is in many ways an arbitrary and imaginary or self-imposed deadline and rather than rushing and scrambling to keep up, I can instead lay some things down and look forward to the bright sense of possibility that dawns with January.

How might you soften and surrender?

How might you lay some things aside?b2ap3_thumbnail_15039635_1818762091669338_4901288478015916309_o.jpg

How might you honor the undone and unfinished and let them rest?

How might you mindfully embrace the twin pulls of this season and let effort and ease join hands?

May you honor wise secrets
and silent mysteries.
May you trust the touch
of the sacred
in all things.

Some resources for Winter Magic are available to you here.


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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Now the falling of the leaves, now the short'ning day:

for Summer is a-going out, and Winter's on the way.


I've been to lots of Harvest Suppers down the years, but I can't think of another that ended with a spontaneous (and heartfelt) invocation of Old Witch Winter.

Usually, we're hoping to stave Her off for as long as possible. This year, we can't wait.

It's been a long, dark Summer here in Minneapolis since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.

First came the opportunistic looting and arson that stalked the initial protests.

Then came the dithering of our gormless City Council, whose major strategy for bringing about systemic change seems to consist of waiting for someone else to come up with an idea.

Then came record levels of shootings, carjackings, and break-ins, while the authorities wring their hands, and do nothing.

So I guess it isn't surprising that after the feast's closing song, we should suddenly all rise to our feet and start shouting—shouting—to Old Witch Winter to come and put an end to it all. Shut it off! Close it down! Summer be gone; Winter, come!

As you know, spontaneous magic is always the most powerful of all.

Well, that's the thing about Old Witch Winter: invited or not, She always comes.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Toasting Ullr

We know our gods are getting mainstream attention when I find an Ullr brand schnapps in a big normal store with a prayer to Ullr printed right on the bottle. Of course it had to come home with me and be used for a sumbel toast. In this photo I'm pouring the Ullr peppermint cinnamon schnapps into mugs of hot cocoa.

Also on the altar are two candles. The blue one I found in Tom's house, where the ritual was held. As a former Strega practitioner, he has a lot of candles, which I'm trying to incorporate into our heathen rituals. He also has a lot of oils, but fewer of them now because we did a soap making workshop too and used a bunch of them up. The white candle is a souvenir from Pagan Spirit Gathering in 2010. Blue and white are winter themed colors, which is why I selected those two.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the snow

I’m no great fan of snow, I admit. It’s one of the things to celebrate where my first port of call is to absolutely hold up your right not to celebrate. For many of us, snow is hard work. Snow days can make getting to work a nightmare, and missed work isn’t fun if you can’t afford it.  Ice means isolation. Slippery surfaces mean real risk of injury. Cold weather kills people – usually the old and frail who cannot afford to heat their homes, and those who have no homes and are rough sleeping. Being able to enjoy the snow is a sign of privilege, and any celebration of it has to include recognition of that. It is not ok to shame or harass anyone who doesn’t enjoy it.

There is one particularly magical aspect of snow that is often overlooked by people who go out to play in it – and that’s footprints. Snow reveals who else has passed through, and if you can be out before human feet have obliterated all signs, snow can tell you stories about who was there and what they did.

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