Tag Archives: Spring

Spring!

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It’s finally, really, truly Spring! The picture above shows one of my Japanese maples leafing out in the woodland garden, just beside a Japanese temple pine and an old acuba.

Today, on Twitter, @selenafox shared this lovely video:

Hail Flora! Hail Persephone! Hail the Maiden!

Here, in the Magical MidAtlantic, we’ve been acknowledging Spring ever since Eostara, but it’s only this week that it’s felt as if the trees really went green, the pointy things (hostas, jack-in-the-pulpits, lilies, toad lilies, and ferns like flames) began to emerge from underground, and the birds began to join my morning meditation. (In the Winter, I have coffee, silence, and what Dylan Thomas called the “close and holy darkness.” In the Spring, I have coffee, growing light, birdsong — what Gerard Manley Hopkins called “Lo! Morning at the brown brink eastward springs! And [Sophia] over the bent world broods with warm breast and with Ah! bright wings.”)

Here, hat tip to @allisonlily, is another lovely meditation on Spring:

Then I see it, my special spot, the birch trees about to burst open their buds, everything hanging in anticipation. Narcissus flower everywhere underneath the white boles, running down through the patch of woodland that hides the stream from prying eyes. Spots of yellow, like little suns, laugh and smile as they stretch towards our nearest star.

I walk beneath the birch trees, looking at the fox den and rabbit holes. I find my place, a clear space of ground and here I put down my bag. Looking around me, there are branches everywhere as the recent winds of springtime have brought many down. I gather some up, together with pieces of flint and quartz that lie upon the mossy earth. I make my circle of sticks and stones, and smile at the thought.

Lighting the incense, I walk around the circle several times, then place it carefully upon a bare patch of earth. I take my bottle of water and allow a thin stream of water to bless this sacred space. Standing at the four directions I honour them for all that they are. Within the centre I recognise and remind myself of the three worlds: land, sea and sky. I use the ritual gestures that I have created over the years to emphasize my words, to bring them into action. I breathe in the air, filled with the scents of spring, face the stream and call to my goddess.

“Lady of the sacred flame. Lady of the sacred water. Where fire and water meet is the greatest power. I honour you with all that I am, for all that you are. Lady of healing, lady of transformation, lady of poetry, lady of creativity. Show me your mysteries. I open my soul to you, to hear your song.”

A wave of energy comes towards me, nearly knocking me off my feet. I balance, and turn around, knowing that there is incense behind me. I move carefully around the incense, walking as if through treacle or dark, sticky molasses. I need to lie down. The Earth is pulling me down, down into her mysteries. Carefully I lower myself to the ground, a pair of hawks overhead crying as they circle, riding the thermals.

I close my eyes. The earth thrums beneath me, the sky singing above me. I hear it. I hear The Song.

The entire post is worth a read.

Here are a few more pictures from my garden: here in the shadow of Columbia, in the State named for the Maiden, in a spot where I’ve done magic for over a decade, in the place where the great-great-many-times-great granddaughter of the tarragon that I planted is sprouting in the herb bed, where the great grandson of my first cardinal shows up when I’m brewing coffee and demands that I put out seed with which he can court his lady, where, just now, the gentle rain is making the grass so green it would make your heart ache.

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May it be so for you.

To Greet Every New Day that May Come Like the First of Spring

Thursday Night Poetry Blogging

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Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen

~ Lew Welch

All these years I overlooked them in the
racket of the rest, this
symbiotic splash of plant and fungus feeding
on rock, on sun, a little moisture, air —
tiny acid-factories dissolving
salt from living rocks and
eating them.
 
Here they are, blooming!
Trail rock, talus and scree, all dusted with it:
rust, ivory, brilliant yellow-green, and
cliffs like murals!
Huge panels streaked and patched, quietly
with shooting-stars and lupine at the base.
 
Closer, with the glass, a city of cups!
Clumps of mushrooms and where do the
plants begin? Why are they doing this?
In this big sky and all around me peaks &
the melting glaciers, why am I made to
kneel and peer at Tiny?
 
These are the stamps of the final envelope.
 
How can the poisons reach them?
In such thin air, how can they care for the
loss of a million breaths?
What, possibly, could make their ground more bare?
 
Let it all die.
 
The hushed globe will wait and wait for
what is now so small and slow to
open it again.
 
As now, indeed, it opens it again, this
scentless velvet,
crumbler-of-the-rocks,
 
this Lichen!

Picture found here.

Remembering Spring

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Photo by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

An Imbolc Tale

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“Now the phoenix burst, as phoenixes will do,” the boy’s Nonna said, “into flame, but our hero didn’t see it.”

“Instead, he was focused on the small well to the East of his Nonna’s yard. When he had climbed down from the tree, determined to look underneath his feet, inside his Nonna’s land, and to connect with what was there, he had stopped worrying about the phoenix. Instead, he had turned his attention to the darkness at the heart of the land, trying to discern what his ancestors had brought across the ocean that gave the trolls a foothold there.

“For many and many a day our hero sat staring deep into the well. Sometimes the sun shone into the well, making sparkling jewels on the surface of the water and our hero tried to discern a message. And sometimes clouds covered the sky and the water was as dull and steel-grey as the trolls’ factories and our hero tried not to shiver too much. And sometimes snow fell from the sky, and settled on a thin skin of ice that sat upon the water, and our hero huddled into himself, wishing that he were back inside, under the covers, drinking hot chocolate, and eating chocolate croissants, and not worried about the trolls. But because he was a hero, every time that he was about to give up, he would remind himself how much he wanted to free his lands from the trolls and that would help him to stay just a bit longer, staring into the well.

“Now a day came when it seemed to the hero that sunrise came a bit earlier than it had been coming. And it seemed to him that the sun warmed him a bit more than had been its wont of late. And it seemed to him that the local fox hunted with a special urgency that almost smelled of kits deep inside a den. And it seemed to him that he could see some movement at the bottom of the well. He blew into his hands to warm them and he watched as the tiny white blossom of a snowdrop opened up at the base of an old maple tree.

“‘Been here long?’ the strong woman asked. Our hero almost jumped, and he did stand, quickly, as he had been always taught to be respectful, and he touched the knitted cap upon his head and answered, ‘Yes, Lady. I’ve been sitting here since Yule, since the shortest night of the year. And I’m not sure what day it is, but I do know that it’s been a long time because the days are starting sooner and the snowdrops are opening.’

“‘What would make a fine young person sit outside from Yule to Imbolc?’ the Lady asked, and our hero noted that she carried a small flame in her hand and that a young lamb suckled at her breast. He felt warmer as she came nearer to him and he could see more snowdrops opening in her footsteps. Her footsteps sounded as if a hammer were striking a musical anvil somewhere far away, maybe deep underground. And each step brought her and her warmth closer and closer to where he stood beside the well.

“‘I want to free my land from the trolls and their factories and evil mimes,’ the hero said. ‘And an old man told me to find the phoenix because she could tell me. And the phoenix told me to look into the heart of the land to find out what my ancestors brought with them to this land that gave the trolls a chance to work their greedy magic. And I’ve been sitting here, looking into this deep well, all Winter, but all that I’ve seen has been sunlight, and clouds, and ice, and snow. And sometimes I wanted to go inside and get warm, and eat, and drink, but I don’t want to leave until I know the answer. Can you help me, Lady? Please?’

“The lady smiled, and said to the hero, ‘You don’t remember me, do you? I was there when you were a day old and had jaundice. I have an interest in newborn children and I was there when they had to prick your heel with a needle to test your blood. Do you remember at all?’

“Wait!” the boy said. “Nonna, that’s just like me. Remember you told me how I had jaundice, which means yellow, and how you were there when they stuck a needle into my heel? And how the nurse from England swaddled me up so it wouldn’t hurt too much? Remember?”

And Nonna said, “Yes, the hero was just like you in that way. And perhaps some others.” And she continued:

“And our hero wasn’t completely sure whether he remembered it of his own doing, or if what he was remembering was from the time that his Nonna had told him about it, but he did, somehow, remember the pinprick in his heel, and a sense of warmth that helped him through that, and, just now, he could feel a tingling in his left foot. ‘Lady,’ he said, ‘I think that I may remember it, a bit, and I am grateful to you. My Nonna told me how happy my mother was to finally bring me home and how my father, who later taught me to hike the mountain, smiled when they put me into my mother’s arms to go home. Because Nonna was there and she saw it all, and somehow, maybe you and my Nonna are mixed up in my memory, as if she would sometimes try very hard to bring your energy into the room, but, well, really, I don’t know . . . . Can you help me to save my land?’

“‘Well, as to that,’ the Lady said, ‘I am She Who Attends All Beginnings and, so, of course, I was here when your ancestors came to this place. And I saw what they brought with them, off of their ships, and I have watched how some good came, and some evil came, and how, as is always the case, there have been Unintended Consequences. There’s a history that is the focus of this month. But what I could tell you wouldn’t help you; you must find out the truth for yourself. And I must know if you are true of heart and can work for your land and not be overtaken by greed. So, look, now, deep into the well and tell me what you see.’

“And the Lady held her flame directly above the well, and our hero looked as deep into the well as he had ever looked, and there, below the surface of the water, pictures began to take shape. Our hero saw flat pictures of ships, ships smaller than the one his hoary ancestor had sailed, ships that slipped between waves, heading ever towards the West. He grew sleepy, watching those ships, and finally, warmed, at last, by the Lady’s flame, he fell asleep, dreaming of ships and lands to the West. And just as he fell all the way asleep, he saw deep into the holds of the ships and cried out in despair, while a jazz riff played softly in his ears.

“And now,” the boy’s Nonna said, “it really is time for sleep.”

“Wait!” the boy said. “What did he see? Did he save his land from the trolls? What happened?”

“That,” Nonna said, “is a tale for a warmer day.” And that was all that she would say.

Picture found here.

I Can’t Wait for this Exhibit

Stinging Nettle Soup

Nettle Soup

Nettle Soup


It’s way too early, but I’m craving stinging nettle soup.

What is it about Spring that you can hardly wait for?

Picture (and a second recipe) found here.

The Witch of This Place


*Still cogitating about things I heard at Sacred Space.

The always-brilliant John Michael Greer said some things about the actual magical ancestors of most Americans that are still working their way into my subconscious so that they can work their way back out. What’s romantically-meaningful for me is the bone-shaking (by which I mean that she sits and shakes bones) magic done by an old, long-toe-nailed, shivering crone (whom I suppose that only I have ever seen, and, only then, in deep trance) at the edge of an ice-age cave, substituting, for the wolves, her own old scent in exchange for the fresh-blood scent of her giving-birth and her menstruating daughters, all hidden deeper in the cave, in what is now Scandinavia.

What may be far closer in time to me is the Xian-covered magic of a member of The Grange in Colorado or of a Spiritualist in Ohio. How do I integrate all of these within the beloved magical opening between the core of Gaia and the energy of the stars that is my body? How do I do what the Bene Gesserit (another mythology that is on my mind these days) did and assimilate the magics of all of my ancestresses?

*And speaking of my actual magical ancestors, (and maybe I’m the only one who sees a connection here) I’ve spent part of this lovely, rainy weekend reading a delicious book entitled Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War. Readers who’ve followed my attempts to come up with a knitting pattern for Phrygian caps (and I do promise to post the updated pattern soon) will understand my delight at finding this book.

More and more (and I hope to develop this idea in some future posts) I find that knowing the history of my shining city on a swamp is important to my magic, to my practice as a Witch of This Place, to the work to which I re-dedicate myself every morning when I chant Carol Christ‘s prayer: “The breath of my body will bless, the cells of my being will sing, in gratitude and re-awakening.”

I recommend knowing the history of your own Place as a deep and important part of your own magical practice. (I have to credit my brilliant friend, E, whose own emphasis upon donating to charities that benefit her own, specifc (think globally, do magic and donate locally) landbase started my entire quest to know the Goddess Columbia and to be The Witch of This Place and Chas Clifton, who is also, I think, engaged in the work of being the magic worker of his own place.)

* One of the most basic practices of modern magic-workers is grounding. When I ground, I don’t run my roots into some generic “Earth” or some all-purpose “Dirt.” I run them into THIS Virginia clay, the clay upon which my sixty-one year-old cottage is built (and I’m still dealing with some of the harm done to the soil by those less-than-ecologically-aware-builders). This clay, that has been amended by several hundred years of oak leaves, and acorns, and squirrel poop. This clay, that Landscape Guy and I have dug up, and mixed with coffee grounds, and watered with rain barrel water, and anchored with an altar of Appalachian stone.

And so, when my roots run down, they find the mycelium that run between the roots of the oaks and maples on my Bit of Earth. They find the earthworms who live here and turn over all the detritus of last Autumn’s potlatch of leaves. They find the etheric imprints of the 1950s housewife who first kept this kitchen shining clean (and who still disapproves of me a bit, I think), of the First Peoples, who never lived but hunted here, of the odd Masons and Spiritualists who used to go on walks here, starting out from a now-haunted sanitorium not far from my bedroom.

*And speaking of Sacred Space, one of the lovliest sessions that I attended was led by Michael G. Smith who read us his lovely poem about Fairie:

I slept beneath the moon last night
And walked the paths of silver light
‘Neath shadows of the wakened trees
Through mists that flowed like darkened seas

Off in the distance spoke the owl
Beneath his coppery feathered cowl
Of moving things beneath his eye
Of those that live and those that die

The land was stirred by Spring’s enchant
The Winter’s time of cold and damp
Was giving way to Life Renewed
No longer frost but morning dew

I looked upon the rising green
And felt the stirring pure and keen
Of passion for life’s fleeting bliss
For love and joy and fiery kiss

And then I heard an urgent call
Come to me down the length’ning hall
Of time and space, it touched my heart
And so I went to make a start

My heart then lead me so to wait
Before the mighty Ancient Gate
Of Faery deep within the Land
And there I was to patient stand

And while I stood in silence deep
And all about the world did sleep
I caught my breath as stirring sound
Came to me through the air and ground

And as I watched the Gate swung wide
And power flowed out like the Tide
To Overwhelm my mortal sense
Yet came The Bright One with me hence

And we as one then saw the sight
That freed me from my human fright
And we as one then spoke the word
That let us be so undisturbed

Read the rest at the link. No, really, go read it. I’ll wait right here.

*G/Son is fascinated by the fairies who live here and who sometimes leave him the odd gift: an acorn, a shiny stone, a bit of poetry. And that’s the history of This Place, as well; that an insane old woman lived here and nurtured her G/Son upon stories of The Last Wild Witch, and of Arthur, and of Freedom’s Cap.

*The strong temptation of this way-too-early Spring is to go out and plant. I’m (mostly) holding off. We’ve had frosts here, on this Bit of Earth, as late as April 25th. I have planted the tarragon seedlings that were delivered and I’ll likely be out covering them up tomorrow evening when temps may dip down into the 30s. How are you working with your own Bit of Earth in this shifting season?

*The woman who lived here, on my Bit of Earth, before me, a heavy-centered mother of two, a weaver, and a potter, planted two fig trees. Every summer, I harvest her figs, those most uterine of fruits, from those trees, negotiating a truce with the birds and the squirrels. Over the past two days, the fig leaves have burst out. Fig leaves, even here in this misty and dark light, are sparks of green flame, incandescent with a light that comes from somewhere other than this wet, grey Spring weekend. I sit at my altar in amazement at the light within these leaves that will manifest itself within the deeply-seeded center of the figs that will manifest come late Summer.

*And, speaking of planting, I’m still willing to say that Baker Creek is the best catalogue out there. Garden Rant (the one garden blog i read even when I’m exhausted) agrees with me. If you want to connect with your own Bit of Earth, buy some seeds from Baker Creek or from Landreth, America’s oldest seed company, which could use the business this year.

Photo by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.