Seasonal Shadows (Edited)

… if only these were the only shadows!  And yes, I AM a child — my decorated window cast upon my wall by a spot of winter sunlight delights me all over again. (Also hating WP today, it is being utterly absolutely uncooperative about anything, since apparently some new hellish “do it this way” change has been kicked IN.  I refuse to go try the “new way” because every new way for the past two years has been WORSE and driven me more mad.)

img_3617Knickknacks in the shelf, and shadows from the window facing south.

Memories to be captured in any case?

shadow-jackJack Frost in the window, a crystalline snowflake in his hands — recaptured on the wall!


A lampshade has “shades of it’s own with the brief bright sunlight of a mid-winter’s day, and in the merry shade most popular at this season?

A plain pillow gets a sudden patterning, printed by the sun, too.


And shadows and reflections all at once, from window to picture frame and wall?  Perfection!







Fire at Midnight – Samhain Love in the Time of Climate Change

dogwood-fire-at-midnightThe seasons, they are a-changin’, to paraphrase wildly. I don’t just mean from summer to fall, these several weeks back.  The weather worldwide is different and it is beginning to make me wonder how to plan the seasonal observances that keep me anchored to this world I love.  The other night, I went out late to walk in the brisk breeze that was stripping golden and rose leaves — that darkling photo  is the rose-gold of the dogwood tree, almost bare now.

Of old, back in the 1990’s , we used to celebrate Beltane when the apple tree blossomed; and cross-year Samhain when we harvested apples at the first full moon in Scorpio.  This year, that full moon is mid-November and the deer harvested the apples – golden ripe – in mid-September!  Even then, at times, we laid the fire for Samhain at the new moon in Scorpio – as we will do this year’s new black moon.

But we feel late, out of synch.  My holy days, as a humanist who finds whatever fleeting signs of divinity there are in nature, have ever been built around the freshening spring rains and the leaf patter on autumnal windows.  This year, it is all a-kilter and I have no fire-pit.  In my over crowded half acre — the best place for a struggling Sequoia sapling was in the deep hallowed hole of the family fire pit where sabbat fires had burned for over 20 years.  So a small metal ring in a circle of chairs must suffice?

I tell myself, that as fires grow more rare – as even June’s Summer Solstice has been too hot and dry for fires in recent years – that I can do with a smaller fire.  No flames leaping twenty feet into the air come rain or shine!  I remind myself that urban witches and pagans make do with small cauldrons or candles.  I ask myself, severely, if I am a “good” pagan if I cannot acknowledge the suffering nature I see around myself by contenting myself with less?

gingk0So, into the golden dark we go here, like the wind whipped leaves of the golden gingko bonsai that sits not far from my manmade fire ring.  I plan my ritual of ending my ritual year — what goes into my fire to say goodbye, what I let go and what I will hold fast.  A dream in the night saw me at a feast with the divinities my family once chose as those they would most like to see as real — and I lifted a piece of golden honeycomb to my lips and bit it, honey running down my chin in such tactile fashion that it woke me!  So honeycomb will be sought and incorporated.

We will stand with fire-lit faces and open ourselves to hear our world, the human world and the natural world where we have wrought our havoc.  We will inquire into the nature of reality and spirit and strive to hear an answer from the winds around us and inside our own busy skulls.  And on the dawn, Monday, we will step into the season I call the “Fallows” to work towards the calendar’s New Year in earnest humility and inner searching.  This year, that Fallows holds within it a Presidential election and the fate of our nation and world.  And yes, that old superstitious brain stem of mine so wishes for flames leaping 20 or 30 feet into the midnight sky!

May you find blessings for yourself and your world in your own way, if this sabbat is one of yours.  And Blessed Beltane to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who celebrate.  If not?  Well, Happy Halloween — and may the dead that are and those to be?  Have mercy upon us all!

Rites of Spring

quince sipperThe fire is merry in the propane fireplace that heats my house. The feather-filled duvet on my bed is cozy and warm, too.  Outdoors, the grape hyacinths, windflowers, and flowering quince bring color to the garden while all else languishes in sullen chill nights.  Hawthorn buds swell, but show no white.  A fat package full of seed packages sits in the cool laundry room, waiting – oh so waiting.

Tomorrow spring is on the calendar for springing.  A Disney “Bambi” soundtrack plays in my head.  Even with climate change making our winters less snowy these days, we know better than to rush outdoors with tender green dreams!  But I know spring is here anyway.  My body clock chimes with loud insistence  as the sun prepares to wow us tomorrow with 12 hours of equal light and dark.

I know it is spring when:

rackedI want to get rid of half my furniture and every knick knack in sight.  Yes, spring makes me minimalist.  My husband protects us all from my emptying the household.  I satisfy the urge by re-arranging instead.  This year I uncrowded the den/meadery by moving the racked bottles to the family room where we sit at table daily.  This left space in the den for the humongo exercise machine.  Besides, who shouldn’t have dozens of bottles of mead at hand without rising from table, eh?  (Yes, that white ovaloid at the end is now our main fermenter!  Start and finish on one wall!)

spring porchI look at my houseplants like some sort of exotic captives, they need to breathe free and wild OUTside!  Or so I feel in spite of still occasional freezing nights.  Since my dear sons enclosed my front porch a year ago, I can now satisfy the need to move almost all my houseplants from the necessarily* electrically-lit “jungle” by putting them on the protected porch.  Natural light through old nigh-antique glass.  Yes, a new rite of spring here!

* Our 2008 installation of new windows in the house, with ‘heat shielding’ meant that the full light spectrum plants need is no longer available.  Thus, electric supplementation.

My minimalist spring self wants to prune bookshelves.  This begins with cookbooks being gutted by scissors, snipped bits scanned and emailed to my electronic cookbook on an ancient iPad, the rest shredded into recycling.  Who knows where it ends….

I want French Toast.  And no ordinary version, either.  I want it made of spiraled slices of cinnamon rolls!  Even with my clean-eating regimen well into its second year, this craving has me contemplating making the necessary cinnamon rolls to use for tomorrows breakfast after inundating them in vanilla-infused egg and milk.

I will “feed” the stones.  Ah, there it is – for the category “pagan life” – yes, something nice and non-logical?  A ring of stones, some too heavy to move without aid from strapping young muscle men, surrounds my home.  Placement was one of my first acts as a finally un-closeted pagan back in the mid-90’s.  My children each selected deities of storied pantheons that they admired and might wish to worship or emulate as their upbringing as humanist Catholic-rited folk inspired them.  Taking mead, beer, or watered wine to each stone, and perhaps bread or incense is my only pagan rite tomorrow.  It is a nod to those bits of myself that desire no logic, that feed on dreams and nightmares.  It is a meditation of the ages the named stones stretch over – a remembering of where we have been and where we yet may need to go.

spring treeThe Ostara Tree will be taken down and put away.  Ever since my children were small, we followed a German tradition of bringing in budded branches in mid-March and decorating it for spring.  Blown and decorated eggshells, glass ornaments, wooden birds, bunnies, garden implements.  The blossoms blooming before the Vernal Equinox was a sign of luck, we said.  Well, they have blossomed and dried!  So back in the box with fragile eggshells, and the branches go into the yard recycling bin!

Thus into tomorrow I march!  The small tiller gets fresh gas and a new spark plug.  The Labyrinth will be raked, for soon I must walk it again for a fallen Marine.  Ah, Spring — when men’s thoughts turn to love making war.  Sadly, historically true.  Not the “rite of spring” I had in mind, but there is reality biting again.

May you find what takes you forward into the greening season!