Tree Friends, White Waking Moon, Day 6

I have made many new friends going on my daily walk.  Most of them are tree people.

In the fall when I began, it was the Hawthorn people who caught most of my attention, with their bright red berries adorning their branches.  These weren’t located conveniently for me to spend time communing with them, so I have not yet caught their song.  But I have been hearing the songs of others.

In the depths of midwinter it was Oak who caught my attention, holding onto its dead leaves through its winter’s rest as it does, and shaking like a shaman’s rattle in the winds.  I stood beneath them and let their shaking resonate around me, through me, and heard its Oak Song.  Oak sings of realignment with the worlds, calling and gathering back together fragmented parts of the self with its many leaves, drawing them in like magnets, and dropping them back into their right places.  Then its song resonates through the inner Three Cauldrons noted in Irish lore, the Cauldron of Warming which is our seat of vitality, the Cauldron of Vocation which is our heart’s true expressions, and the Cauldron of Knowledge, our connection to the wisdom of the starry realm.  Oak’s song resonates linearly through these spaces, bringing them into harmony with each other, rooting one firmly into the earth, stretching one up to the skies, and filling one’s heart/trunk with a steady light.

After midwinter passed, I began to notice Hazel.  Her catkins began appearing shortly after the solstice, and have slowly lengthened and opened up over the last month.  Her leaf buds have gradually swelled on her branches, and today I noted small red tips at the ends of the buds, signs of spring’s leafing out to come.  Hazel is connected to the watery realm, like the Well of Wisdom in Irish lore, and Her song resonates in the heart center, like a pebble dropped in a quiet pond, its ripples sailing out to the edges.  She sings of heart healing from emotional waves, bringing a balm to stormy feelings, soothing, calming, and supporting.  Her song feels like a big warm hug.  I am daily watching Her bring news of Springtime.

Shortly after, during the local wind storms, I began hearing the song of Douglas Fir.  While most of the deciduous trees are leafless and sleeping this time of year, and quiet in the winds, the evergreens like Dougie channel the voice of the wind in big, booming gusts, often low enough to not be properly heard over the higher shooshing of the deciduous leaves, but winter is their season to command attention.  Dougie’s branches lash to and fro, sweeping the air, and dispersing its oils like incense.  Dougie’s song is full of vitality, very energetic- He says to me his song is for motivating, stimulating, getting what is stuck moving again, like the sap running down His trunk.  These blockages could be emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical.  His song shakes the system up, breaking up stagnation, and getting energy running again.  And interestingly, Dougie sang to me two songs- one for clearing up the blockages, and the next one for bringing Light into the opened-up spaces.  This song is like a brisk dance followed by basking in sunlight!  It was quite invigorating, especially on a chilly winter morning!  Dougie is the iconic tree of these lands here on the northwest coast.

Each day on my walk, I greet my friends.  Sometimes I bring them gifts of birdseed.  Sometimes I gift them with the Green Breath, when I stand beside them and breathe in their energies, and breathe out my CO2 to them, in a give-and-take flow.  I gifted them before I was permitted to hear their songs.  I have also been gifting and greeting Cedar, and hope to hear this song next.  Cedar is a key tree in the traditional lore and lifeways of the indigenous peoples where I live in Cascadia.  Already I sense a very deep energy here.  I also greet and breathe with a row of Hemlock I pass under, and hope to hear their songs more clearly soon as well; their energy feels dense and dark, like the depths of a forest.

These daily druidic walks give me fresh air, exercise, sunlight, and spiritual growth through new communions with new friends.  I am very thankful for this very simple daily practice which nourishes me in so many ways.

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Sunset, White Waking Moon, Day 1

A cloudy morning gave way to a sun-warmed afternoon, which has melted into a chilly, color-brightened twilight.  Thinking now of the Celtic tradition of days beginning with sunsets…

Greetings and thanks, Spirit of Twilight, for bringing up peacefully to the threshold of a new day.  May your calm be a soul-balm we take with us into the dark, and may we share it around, bringing peace and healing to one another.

Deep Peace of the still air to us,

Deep Peace of the setting sun to us,

Deep Peace of the rising stars to us.

Spirit of Twilight, may your blessings of peace and wholeness gently usher us into the new day.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

Star Frost Moon: Winter Waning

From the Perennial Course in Druidry:

Season: Winter Waning
At Midwinter, we celebrate the birth of a new light. This is poetic, expressing the first moments in the potential for renewal and regeneration, the beginning of a new cycle ahead. For many, this is an expression of deity, inspiring profound reverence and respect; here there is a god of light, a god of regeneration, of birth. What is the purpose and impact of acknowledging these forces as deity or divine?  What other gods are present and prominent during this moontide? Which do you feel most drawn to, in which do you see most beauty, and through which do you find inspiration? This is midwinter, and the darkness is still powerful. The worst of the cold is yet to come. It is a sacred time of stillness, when all life moves slowly; if we try to speed it up, it will only drag and pull us down. Spending time awake to the environment, be aware of how nature functions at this time. Does anything in nature move quickly at this time? How can you too slow down and what value would there be in doing so?”

During Midwinter, I think of the Bru/ na Bo/inne, or Newgrange, on the banks of the Boyne river in Ireland, a megalithic mound into which the midwinter sunrise shines for about a week’s worth of mornings.  Though built before Celtic culture arrived, it was later associated with the god an Daghda and the goddess Bo/ann, She who gives Her name to the river, the mound, and the whole valley.  The tale is that they trysted there as lovers while Her husband was tricked away, and when they learned She was with child, He made the sun stand still for nine months so She might proceed through Her pregnancy, deliver the babe, and have him hidden away before Her husband might ever learn of it.  That child was a boy, named Aengus O/g, Aengus the Young.  He is the spirit of the young, new waxing solar cycle which begins at the midwinter solstice, when the sun stands still.  Deifying the new cycle in this way gives prominence to this event of renewal of the sun, the land, all growth and fertility, upon which our lives depend.  Acknowledging these forces allows us to be present with them, participate in them, aligning us with the cycles of nature, that we might remember to harmonize all aspects of our lives with nature.  In this way, the mound reminds us of the deep darkness that is the midwinter season, of the fertility asleep within the land, the tomb to which life on earth has gone, and the womb from which it shall re-emerge.  It shows us how to make space for our spirits to also sit in and with the dark, for rest and renewal, and to pause to honor and welcome the moment of the renewal of the sun’s great cycle.  Bringing presence and awareness to this event and all its implications can be done by slowing down enough to gain such presence; I have found that keeping a simple Midwinter Advent season provides the moments for such presence and awareness to be had, by lighting a candle each sunset of every day of December leading up to the solstice, reading a solstice-themed poem, and contemplating the deep dark, and the coming of renewal.

Once Midwinter has passed, Aengus turns my thoughts towards Scotland, and the coming Imbolc, where He is featured in a tale with the prime goddess of that land, called The Coming of Angus and Bri\de.  In this tale, he is the son of the Cailleach Bheara, Queen of Winter, and dreams of fair Bri\de, the maiden his mother imprisons and enslaves in her mountain home, to keep the summer at bay.  He searches for Her and brings Her out of the mountain prison, where She melts the ice of the rivers, and they are wed by the Faery Folk, marking the event called Br\de’s Day in Scotland, and Imbolc in Ireland.  After this Aengus’ mother Queen Beara sends up great storms to hold back the coming light and growth, which force the newlyweds back to the Green Isle over the sea from Scotland for a time, though Aengus does fight back with pleasant sunny days.  As the spring equinox arrives, Beara realizes she can do no more, so leaves the land and flees herself to the Green Isle, where she drinks from the Well of Youth and is renewed herself into a young maiden, to grow through the year until she is an old hag by Samhain, to bring the winter back to the land, and imprison Bri\de once again.  After the equinox, Aengus and Bri\de reign in both the seen and the unseen worlds as the King and Queen of Summer.

During the month of January, I stand witness each evening at sunset, noting its later arrival each night, and appreciating the slow lengthening of the light.  I note the weather, how it battles between winter storms and spring sunshine.  This year, I am crafting and observing an Imbolc Advent for the first time, to slow down and bring more presence and awareness to this slow change in season, and to prepare myself for Bri\de’s return from the underworld.  I have set up an altar of five candles for this advent, four placed in the shape of a Bri\de’s cross, with one in the center.  On each of the four Sundays proceeding Imbolc, I light one, then two, then three, then all four around, meditating on an aspect of Bri\de, what we know in my priestess Order as Her Four Fires, and dedicate an action for that week in alignment with that aspect.  Honoring the growing light and the returning of the vitality of the land through deification allows us to give great honor to these powers upon which we are totally dependent, acknowledging them as greater than ourselves, and absolutely vital to our survival, to which we must be grateful and humble, and with which we must harmonize to best receive these gifts and blessings.

During this season of renewal and regeneration, I am finding renewal for myself as well, in finding inspiration for new directions and making plans for the coming year.  I am also walking my yard, watching for what is waking up, and making planting plans for the coming spring.  When Imbolc arrives, I will welcome Bri\de back to the land, and ask Her to bless my seeds for the year, both those for the garden, and those for my personal plans.  Storms still may come, but Light will surely be on its way once again.

Morning, Star Frost Moon, Day 25

Chill air greets me as I step outside; the mist of my breath proceeds me as I walk towards the yard.  Gauzy veils of clouds glide quietly across the face of the sun, obscuring Her disk from my vision, filtering Her light as a bright smudge in the morning sky.  The birds are quiet, the wind is restful.  The day sits and waits for…something….

“Greetings and thanks, Spirits of Day, Mother of Light.  Thank you for your gifts and blessings.  May you smile up on us this day, and may we smile upon you in turn.  I pray that you teach us to bring light to all we do, and to all aspects of our lives, freely giving warmth and inspiration to others, as you do to us.

“A\ilte ort fhein, a ghrian nan trath…

“Moran taing, agus sla\inte mhath.”

Morning, Star Frost Moon, Day 24

Frosty and bright dawns the day.  Juncos crowd the bird feeder as their soft chirping fills the air.  All is peaceful.

“Greetings and thanks, Spirits of Day, Mother of Light.  May you smile upon us this day, and may we in turn smile upon you.  I pray that you teach us to give goodness as you do; let this be our healing which we may then give as a sacrificial offering to all life, as you do.

“A\ilte ort fhein, a ghrian nan trath…

“Moran taing, agus sla\inte mhath.”

Breathing in goodness, breathing out gratitude…

Twilight, Star Frost Moon, Day 23

A sunny, mild day is followed by a clear, cool evening.  The sunset streaks the western sky with ribbons of colorful light; two cawing crows offer their silhouettes to the scene as they fly past, diving and twirling round each other.  The air is still and calm.

“Greetings and thanks, Spirit of Twilight, for your peace and calm.  May it be a balm upon our souls as you deliver us peacefully into the quiet night.  Thanks for the day and all that was in it, blessings and lessons both.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.”

Breathing in peace, breathing out gratitude…

Revisiting the Celtic Mandala Prayer, Star Frost Moon, Day 13

I offer up this prayer regularly, but have allowed it to express itself as it needs to in each moment that I offer it.  In the beginning I felt I was looking for its ideal, right form, and was moving through iterations of it towards that end, charting its evolution as I went along.  I no longer feel bound to this idea of outcome, but feel instead that the prayer is a general form with opportunities for variations as may feel suitable depending upon the moment the prayer is offered.  It moves through me as it needs to, being as much a living thing as I am, and together the prayer and I offer reverence to the powers.  This is how the prayer moved through me today ~

“I stand facing east, and honor the power of Stone- your strength, permanence, and durability, especially as you manifest here as the great beings, the Mountains.  I offer you my reverence and gratitude.  (deep breath in and out, the out-breath being the vehicle which carries out my reverence and gratitude, breathing out through my heart center).  I pray that your powers be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

“I stand facing south, and honor the power of Sun- great being whose heat and light bless all the land with life.  I offer you my reverence and gratitude (through the heart, breathing in blessings, breathing out reverence and gratitude).  I pray that your powers be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

“I stand facing west, and honor the power of Sea- grandmother of all life on earth, whose great water cycle nourishes all life, I offer you my reverence and gratitude.  I pray that your powers be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

“I stand facing north, and honor the power of Wind-you who bring the weather, and change, and break up stagnation with your refreshment.  I offer you my reverence and gratitude.  I pray that your powers be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

“I stand facing down and honor the power of Earth- your great womb/tomb, from whence all life comes, and to which all return, great force of life, death, and rebirth.  I offer you my reverence and gratitude.  I pray that your powers be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

“I stand facing up and honor the power of Cloud- bringer of life-giving rains, changer of patterns.  I offer you my reverence and gratitude.  I pray that your powers be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.

“I stand in the center of the world, surrounded and blessed by all the powers, and honor the power of indwelling Spirit, which vitalizes all of life, inspires our hearts, and nourishes our souls.  I offer you mu reverence and gratitude.  I pray that your power be with me and bless me.  Moran taing agus sla\inte mhath.”

As I went about on my daily walk after, I could feel all these powers clustered about me, filling my nemeton with their energies.  It was a very palpable experience, and showed me how powerful they are, as well as how powerful it can be to sincerely call powers to oneself.

Breathe in blessings, breathe out gratitude, heal relationships ~ mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas gu brath.