Friday, February 13, 2015

Snow, snow, and more snow.

Here in the frigid Northeast we are buried under feet of snow, with more on the way.  Looking outside I can't even see the tombstones in the historic graveyard behind my house, and the picnic table in my backyard is gone in a sea of white.   The deck railing is barely visible, but there is no difference in height between the snow on my deck and the topmost visible section of railing.

The snow is everywhere - in the house, around the house, in our cars, our shoes, our hair.  The roads are slushy and frozen, the glare of early morning sun makes it even harder to see out of our already dirty windshields and the banks on either side threaten to topple over and restrict our ability to see what's coming worse than blinders on a racing horse.

In short, we're really sick and tired of being cold and snowed in.

So how, in the midst of all this loathing (and it really is, make no mistake) do we seek out and cling to the light that was promised to us at the equinox?  We know that Spring is coming, the sun is showing more between the heavily laden clouds.... so how do we hold onto that instead of slipping into the cold and dark?

I was talking to a few of my friends online back near Imbolc, and one of them mentioned how they never really grabbed onto Yule as the "big Winter celebration" because it isn't at the start of winter that we need to be celebrating.  It's now, when the world is frozen solid, that we need to be having people over and celebrating and feeling the warmth of family to stave off the ugliness of the weather outside.   I sent her a smiley and replied with "well, look at it for Candlemas instead.  Light things up!  Make a huge meal, have people over and light every freaking candle in the house when you do."  I reminded her that Candlemas was the point in winter where there would be a huge party if they had an abundance of supplies.  It was to celebrate that they'd gotten that far through winter without having to tap their deep stores.  You celebrate that the earth is warming, the sun is stronger.  You look at your seeds for spring and know you'll be planting soon.  It is a perfect time for a party, and a very necessary one too.  My sister was up and visiting for Imbolc this year, and we cooked a lot, ate a lot and reminisced a lot.  It was a lovely way to spend the holy day.

So in these days, not so long after that February 1st celebration, I look at my candles and light them, holding my cold hands over the warmth of their flames, and remember the warmth of the sun that grows stronger each day.  When I see the sun, I smile at it and remember the snow won't last forever.
I also take a moment and thank the snow and the cold for the good they do for the earth - the sharpness of the seasons are important.  Without the frigid temps now, we wouldn't appreciate the heat of summer - and alternately we wouldn't appreciate the cold if not for the searing temps in summer.  We look longingly for the moderate Spring and Fall, for the burst of color those two seasons bring.  We need the changes in season as much as the earth does, and must thank each in their turn.

So light your candles, drink a warm cup of tea, and smile at the snow drifts, and know they're melting even as the snow falls, from underneath where the earth warms as she turns toward Spring.

Wicked Faire!

You may not have heard, but I'll be presenting two panels next weekend at Wicked Faire in NJ.

Give a scroll down that page and you'll see my two panels: Everyday Druidry and Herbalism and Hedgecraft for Beginners.

A big shout out to the event staff at Wicked Faire for being so incredibly easy to work with, and also for the opportunity to  present on these two topics that are so dear to me.  It's my first time at Wicked Faire, so I'm really looking forward to that too.  I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Stuck at home... but not really stuck.

I am, right now, equal parts frustrated and elated.

Why?  Well, for the umpteenth time this winter I'm stuck at home instead of able to go to work - the snow, which is dominating our landscape and obliterating landmarks in seas of white, has again trapped us all inside.

I really dug down and called on the Goddess for this one - I'm upset for mundane reasons about having to miss work but if I let that distract me as it has in the past, well, it'd be 1pm and I'd be 5 episodes into an Agents of Shield marathon, instead of having gotten a ton of chores done today, finished the layout for a painting project, worked on some paperwork for a set of presentations I'm making later this month, and managed to get the dishes done somewhere between the second and third cups of coffee.

So, with a little help, I've put aside my mundane concerns and focused instead on the creativity I've denied for so long.

You know that feeling you get in your gut (or, in my case, in the side of my throat) that something is poking into you, like a bone, just stabbing you little bits at a time?  That's what my creative blocks feel like.  They pain me, and the point is that I'm supposed to pay attention, create and let them go so I can get the art out of my head.  Well, that doesn't always work - mundane concerns get in the way, and then it's Friday and all I want to do is sleep.  I get tired from the worry and stress, and nothing creative gets done.

Well, not today!

So how do you get over this?  Call it out.  Stop ignoring the boney pains and give in to them instead.  Maybe it's giving yourself permission to be creative, maybe it's putting aside the doubt and going for it... but a few herbal aids can help with that.  Peach tea, either with ginger or with mango, is a great creative booster.  Every time I see the pit of a peach, it looks like a little dried brain and honestly, it bolsters me.  It reminds me of the connection between myself and the land.  I can taste that in the tea no matter what time of year it is... and when you're blocked by mounds of snow and can't go wiggle your toes in the grass to move those creative blocks, tasting Spring and Summer can be a life saver.

If you're allergic to pitted fruits, or to ginger, try this instead - <insert fruit tea here>.  No really, fruit tea of your choice.  The goal is to find that taste of summer and heat that you miss in the middle of winter and drink it into your bones.  Drink two or three cups, and keep that scent around as you work.
So today I'm drinking mango and peach tea like it's going out of style, thanking the gods for their aid and creating till my fingers ache!