This life, a blessing come
by turning to and from the star
that gives us morning
Excerpt from the song Morning
~Carolyn McDade, (c) 1998
Went to Carolyn’s song circle this spring – so much wonderful nature imagery!
The water running in the river
Is the sound of the rattle
The wind blowing through the trees
Is the sound of the rattle
The dry leaves fallen to the ground
Is the sound of the rattle
And even in the winter, when the leaves are gone and the water frozen,
The wind blows across the hard crust of snow, scattering loose icy crystals across the surface,
and that, too, Is the sound of the rattle
When you are feeling disconnected: lonely, despairing…
Take the rattle and some sweetgrass,
Go out, sit with it, and listen
And you will be reconnected with creation.*
These sounds in nature have a profoundly moving and soothing effect on me, every time I experience them. This teaching is a gift – giving a new way to relate and connect with these powerful aspects of this earth when I experience them. It is a gift to have a meaning (especially a nature-related one!) associated with the rattle when I encounter it in life now. Connection with nature here is a means of personal healing and integral wellness, which makes good sense to me.
*A half-remembered paraphrase of the rattle-maker’s lesson,
Given through the film, Gently Whispering the Circle Back, by filmmaker Beth Wishart MacKenzie
Set at Blue Quills First Nations College in St Paul, Alberta
They are late this year! Finally saw one perched on a neighbour’s chimney after the big rain earlier this week. In other spring signs – rhubarb is up. And this morning my dog enjoyed her first taste of new green grass for the season. 😉
At the neighbourhood park this week saw the very beginnings of buds at the branch tips of one tree – much further behind than this crowned glory, on March 31, who greets guests at the Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area trail head.
Geese flying overhead all week.
River clear of ice yesterday.
Flock of ~10 migrating robins at Goldbar, seen during what is surely the final ski of the season. Gathered around water in a ditch and flitting among the tree branches – they are a welcome sight!
Woke up this week to a winter wonderland – snowed all night and all day.
The world made new. Again.
A mouse lives near the entrance to the neighbourhood park. In the fresh snow on the remaining snowbanks she is busy tunnelling; across the bank, popping up and burrowing down again, leaving tiny holes in the snow. The fresh snow so soft and shallow her tunnel falling in behind her, leaving a path of churned up snow. Terminating at the heart of a leafless bush, stems offering protection from avidly curious snouts of canine folk passers-by.
A Blue Jay calls in the morning from the oak tree in a low buzzing rattle, ending in a middle-pitched *click* – a mating call?
Above freezing this week, snowbanks dissolving into icy sidewalk lakes, the air doesn’t hurt my face when I step out the door… glimpse of springtime!
Imbolg can be considered the beginning of the annual cycle, inasmuch as a cycle has a beginning or an ending.
The sabbats equally divide the year into eight parts: the points of longest and shortest daylight, and the midway points of equal day & night mark the four quarters, and then the midpoint between each of these make up the four cross-quarters.
They are eight small, even stitches in time which serve as ideal points to step aside, out of the path of regular life, and reflect. These points have also been connected to the human story writ large, the one you have to step back to get the big picture of – beginnings, growth, wisdom, endings – happening over and over again throughout each lifetime. While the eight points highlight the cycles in nature, they also reflect the cycles we experience in life – stitches connecting our concrete reality with abstract reality.
All of this by way of exploring, why am I coming to you, snow piled high outside, calling it a seasonal beginning!?
We are poised mid-way between two big flashy sun-points: shortest day and equal day-night, Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In fact, I might expect Spring Equinox, when the idea of SPRING is celebrated (if not the reality yet, on the cold, frozen northern prairie!), to be “the beginning,” but the image of spring is one of lush, verdant shoots, bright flowers in bloom – life already in full swing, springing into action under the warmth and light of the sun. The real beginning is quiet, below the surface: the planted seed, the waiting bulb. Winter followed by Spring – the seasons now poised on the brink of that invigorating, inevitable roll into warmth and growth and abundant daylight.
It is the waiting in the wings time before Spring dances onto centre stage for the first act.
Imbolg translates as “in the belly” – womb-time, which feels right for this season – still the deep heart of winter, time of hibernation, the ground hard and unchanging, but holding within it the roots and bulbs of life, potential in stasis, waiting for the right time for growth and emergence. A time of candles, symbol of inspiration (not to mention a seasonally welcome activity!), this particular stopping point in the path can be devoted to reflections on inspiration, attentiveness to new ideas forming, making mental space to allow awareness of creative (ad)ventures lurking beneath the surface of conscious, day-to-day living. Inspiration – the very earliest stage of new growth in our lives.
I was reminded today that Chinese New Year, also this weekend, is really Spring Festival, also connected to sun and moon cycles, and that many cultures have a celebration at this time. I’m curious to learn more about the global connections in these celebrations. What fascinates me, too, is the continuity from centuries past of the Chinese celebration. What does a tradition look like that has had that long to steep, continued unbroken, evolving through the ages into modern times? I’m intrigued to learn more…
- The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk
- The Everything Paganism Book, by Silverwind