Thursday, May 9, 2013

Springing with Spring's Energy

Beltane morning just before sunrise: the world is still, quiet, and cool, but a new warmth is in the air. On a branch amid dogwood flowers, a Robin sings a joyous melody as the Pleiades star cluster rises on the eastern horizon.

Beltane's bird song and blossoms usher us into the light half on the year and we are all very grateful for the end (or near end!) of cold weather.

Named for Bel, a Celtic sun god, and "tine" (fire), Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals (the others being Imbolc and Ostara). 

Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (it's opposite,  Samhain is widely celebrated as Hallow'een). Celebrated approximately halfway between the Vernal (Spring) equinox and Litha/Midsummer (Summer Solstice), Beltane traditionally marked the arrival of summer for the ancient Celts, but heralds Spring for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

Like Samhain, Beltane is a time when the veils between the words are thin. On the night before Beltane, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, to ward off unwanted otherworldly occurrences.  

As we move into the season of growth, we find renewal and joy in rising earth energy as nature stretches towards light and warmth. 

Our peas are just beginning to twine up their posts and at this early stage of development, they still need protection.Those of us who have planted and nurtured seeds of intent are now seeing our projects, both spiritual and material, manifest; still, we must continue to support and nurture what we have brought forth.

One way to manifest and celebrate spring energy is a May Day or Beltane gathering.

At last year's Beltane gathering, each participant chose a brightly colored ribbon and danced around a Maypole. Weaving in and out with much laughter, we raised enlivening energy as we twined the ribbons tightly  until they twined the pole creating a new, bright  weave.

During this year's Beltane gathering, we lit a small fire symbolizing the sun's warmth and power to renew life and bounty to the land. We circled, sang, pounded on drums, enlivening ourselves as the earth is enlivened; some of us even jumped the Beltane fire--literally and figuratively traversing barriers and moving ourselves and our goals forward.

As the Earth around us is enlivened, may each of us be blessed with new  energy to make our heart's desires manifest.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring not quite sprung...

All of my nine children will tell you (probably with a groan) that at some point  in their lives--when they were positively bursting for some wonderful event to happen--I informed them that "patience is waiting without complaining."  That they'd, "appreciate it all the more,"  when the marvelous treat arrived.  

The marvelous treat for  all of us this year will be honest to goodness spring weather. Good-bye winter-- hello spring with no chilly ifs, ands, or buts

Thanks to a warm air mass over Greenland--the possible result of climate change--spring is taking its time to arrive in the Brandywine  Valley and environs.  But the potential is here-- curled tightly in the fists of buds, in early robins singing on bare branches, in worm castings on the muddy soil, in the dark green leaves and sunny yellow petals of lesser celandine that carpets the side of the path beside  unploughed cornfields.

Our spring chicks are fully feathered. Tiny pink combs emerge between their eyes.  Although they still peep like chicks, The Girls are becoming pullets and  will soon need the space and bugtacular adventures of free range chickens.  But the icy drafts would put an end to them; so inside they will remain until milder weather arrives.  We've finally spread compost on part of the garden and planted  the peas that usually go into the ground around St Patrick's Day,  but the flurry of activity must wait.

For me this delay is akin to waiting for the miracle of birth; life with all its  beauty and adventures is held within each womb until the time is right.  There is great power and beauty in this potential. With hope and expectation, we observe and enjoy each small movement--are more mindful of each transition. This cool spring teaches us patience. As we wait, it teaches us to be observant. It provides us with opportunities to experience each transition from potential to action--from bud to blossom--from hope to joyous welcome. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seeking Balance at the Spring Equinox

Happy Spring Equinox!

Here in the Brandywine Valley the air is cool, well cold actually. And after days of  gloomy, rainy weather, the sun is shining in fits and starts. Nasty cold weather aside, this time of balance means that the days will (finally!) be longer than the nights--that our region of the Earth is in the time of birthing and rebirth.

Last year's plants and discarded carrot and potato peels have turned into rich fertile compost.  This weekend we'll turn the earth and spread it on the garden to enrich new plants. Despite unseasonably cold weather, the green spears of daffodils bend in the chilly breeze and nine growing chicks peep and peck in the big brooder box in the corner of our living room.

As the spring equinox marks a brief space of balance  (when the Earth is pointed neither away from or towards the sun),  this is is a great time to examine what may need balancing in our own lives. 

This year our family project has been to balance our debt to Mother Earth by reducing, reusing and recycling as much as we can. For the next two weeks we are monitoring our daily water use to get a better handle on just how much we use wisely and how much we use wastefully. Our longer range project involves raising nine pullets (hens) to aid in our effort to reduce what goes into the trash can.

The chicks are part of our effort bring our family's consumption more in balance with our environmental concerns.   Sometime towards the end of April the "young ladies" move from their brooder box to their outdoor digs.

Besides providing eggs, their contribution to our recycling effort, involves consuming any food scraps that we can't compost. 

On a more personal level, this is the time of year when I seek balance.  Like most people following a nature based spirituality, I try to incorporate the spiritual into my mundane life  as much as I can--i.e. cleaning with positive energy, being mindful of my daily actions.  But there are activities like meditating, yoga, walking in the woods and writing--that are essential to my well being.

Yet the activities that feed my soul are the ones I'm most likely to neglect.  I have to shop, clean,  do office work, run kids to activities and do the all of the regular necessary activities that crowd ours lives.   A good mother always puts her family first...right?  But what does  that really mean?  If I  don't balance my needs against the needs of my family what  we all get is a tenser and lest healthy person.  Where's the balance in that?

This  Spring Equinox,  as our family strives for balance,  I will also strive to even out the scales and attend to my physical and spiritual needs so that I can attend to the mundane with  more vitality and enthusiasm.

May we all find the balance we need in our lives to carry us into the light.

Springtime blessings!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Brigid/Imbolc/Candlemas/Groundhog Day!

The maiden comes to bring us light,
The winter dies and all is bright,
The frozen ground shall disappear,
All shall sprout for Spring is near.

We are  still in the grip of winter yet we stand on the threshold of spring. The deepest darkness is past! 

I like to imagine Brigid the Bright stepping from Tír Tairngire , the Land of Promise, to light the darkness and set our thoughts and resolve towards spring.  In her hand is the white birch wand that brings the light of spring to the dark of winter. She invites us to stand with her on the threshold of what is and what is to be--between "now" and "know."  Are you and I ready to join her? 

Brigid is( among her many roles) patroness of the hearth, poets, smiths, craftspeople and healers. With an Irish chimney-sweep husband whose very job is  tending hearths (plus we heat our home by wood stoves so we really do gather round the hearth on cold nights!), a daughter who is both a blacksmith and sculptor (we have a forge complete with anvil in out garage), and multiple musicians and visual artists among our ranks, Brigid is our natural patroness. Of course,  Brigid informs and inspires  my artistic collaborations with my daughter Ellen and it's  no surprise that I named our publishing business Brigid's Hearth Press.

Falling on February second, the  cross-quarter and greater feast of Brigid/Imbolc is better know as Groundhog Day to most people. In fact, the  Puxatony Phil tradition of  weather divination is the part of the holiday that survives in secular society. Brigid was a significant turn of the Wheel for my Celtic ancestors. Usually translated as "in the belly," or "ewe's milk," for first lactation of pregnant ewes, Brigid is a time of first stirrings. 

The sun sets a little later each day, and spring bulbs begin to stir and reach for light; some brave, or foolish, green spears have already pierced the cold earth in my front garden.  

We too begin to stir out of winter's darkness and introspection  and carefully plan and foster new goals even as we plan spring gardens yet to be. 

It is our job to manifest our dreams as well our gardens in the months to come.

May we all find the gifts of firm resolve and true purpose as we foster our spiritual and mundane goals in this time of  first stirrings.