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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

I hope this will be a quick post. It might not be, though, but! I have errands to do but feel that it would be neglectful to not post.

A massive Pacific storm rolled across the Hill Country this week and has dumped rain for almost six days. Beautiful, soft grey skies and rain of every form: mist, fog, drizzle, deluges, soft and silky. My husband, who is from Costa Rica, sometimes calls it un pelo de gato—light, soft, constant rain.

I had a bill to deliver to the front office of our apartment yesterday, and I decided to walk despite the weather. Drips fell from the trees and the entire world seemed green–unnaturally green, glimmering like an emerald. On my way back from the office some voice inside me said: go for a walk, at that secret little park.

What? I fought it for the two minutes it takes to reach my apartment and then decided to get on my hiking gear before any other naysaying voice could convince me other wise. I suited up in my ‘seal skin’ runners pants, rain repellant hiking pants, water-proof boots and rain jacket with hood.  And off I went.

To say it was worth it is a gross understatement.

The crunch of my boots on the gravel seemed unbearably loud. The only other noises were the drips of rain off the oak trees and the occasional call of a bird in the mist. Rain pattered softly at first, though sometimes a random deluge made me seek shelter under the junipers.

For the first time in a long, long time I felt the same mystery I used to feel upon entering a forest or some solitary, natural place. A sense of…breathing, of energy, of connectedness, of life. That these things weren’t dead or immaterial, that they belonged. This was their place. Not that it wasn’t mine, but we shared it. Cohabitation.

I wanted a rock to take with me, a token of this experience. It seems almost silly now—a spiritual souvenir of some sort—but at the time it felt important. I see now (love that 20/20) that it taught me a valuable lesson about being a taker. See, every time I spotted a stone that seemed a likely candidate, I couldn’t bring myself to take it. Sometimes the rock had a little succulent growing under it. Other times the rock stood part of a circle, or supported fuzzy moss, or was just there, sitting, and I couldn’t bring myself to even move it. As silly as this sounds…that was where that rock belonged. That was its place. I didn’t have a right to just take it. And what a human, stupid, selfish response to something beautiful. Take it as if it just belonged to me.

In the end, I did take one. It sat on the side of the gravel path with others that had been kicked over by other hikers and runners. I picked it up, and later a stick and a fallen bit of juniper branch on the pathway back. They sit on my porch now, and I’m surprised that I still feel a bit of guilt over taking them. Maybe I’m overthinking it.

Or maybe I’m not.

I mulled over taking the entire time I was out there, except when I mulled over the fact that my place—the Hill Country—is a unique kind of place. It is full of limestone and juniper, shrub and cactus, heat and dust. I gave thanks for the otherworldliness of the water-pocked limestone, invasive juniper, spiky prickly pear and the oaks dripping with moisture.

My mind is kind of mushy right now, and this post didn’t come out quiet like I wanted. How could it? Describing profound experiences is like trying to hold on to water or sand…I’m convinced it’s not really possible, as they are so unique to each person. So I’ll leave it as is. Know that walking in the rain yesterday impacted me in some profound way, and along with Imbolc earlier this week, I have even more to consider—and having much to consider brings me joy, now, not confusion or grief.

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I’ve known about Imbolc for some time–known that it was a festival/sabbat on the Wheel of the Year and, of course, knew about Groundhog’s Day.  For some reason this year I researched it more, starting a few weeks ago. I think that I made a prenatal appointment on that February 2nd, which triggered a memory recalling that date was also Imbolc, so I looked it up.

Imbolc is a celebration of quiet a conglomerate of different things. The Gaelic speaking Celts celebrated the goddess Brigid and called the festival Oimelc, gaelic for ‘in the ewe’s milk’ or ‘in the belly’, since this time corresponding with lambing and the coming of an ewe’s milk. Brigid, one of the primary goddesses in Celtic myth/legend/pantheon, is the goddess associated with midwifery, poetry, smithing and fire.

In Christian times, the feast became St. Brigid’s Day, as well as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin and Candlemas.  It’s also a time for weather divination, thus Groundhog’s Day (in other countries they have used such animals as snakes and cats).

Also, primarily, Imbolc/Oimelc/etc. is a celebration of the coming of Spring and the end of Winter. Winter snows turn into mid-winter rains, snowdrops and daffodils begin to emerge, lambing commences and the days grow longer. After the darkness of winter the sun begins to emerge.

I noticed early on that my pregnancy and the Wheel of the Year corresponded and thought that it would be neat to make reflections at each Feast Day/Sabbat—just as a method of keeping track. I had no idea that—even at the beginning, at Yule—that it would offer me some kind of hope that I needed. When Yule came I had yet to be in the real throes of first trimester depression. It was the holidays, and though I felt something amiss, I thought it might just be writer’s blues or holiday stress.

After the holidays, though, I actually became depressed. Listless. Unmotivated. Melancholy. Tired. I know that a lot of this can be and is caused by hormones, but even so—as one prone to depression, I don’t take these feelings lightly. As a soon-to-be mother, even less so. Still, at times, it felt perpetual and endless. I didn’t want this baby. I felt put upon, and more so, completely out of my depth. How was I supposed to raise a baby? How…how could I? It seemed an impossible, daunting, awful task. One that, before I became pregnant, I looked to with joy. After…

For the sake of symbolism, November through January was a time of my winter. The days shortened and darkness fell. Even during Yule, which celebrates the birth of the Sun, I didn’t feel it.

However. Weeks passed. I journaled. I wrote. I have an amazing husband. I began a search for a therapist to begin anew work that never should have stopped. We bought a house. I cleaned my house, thoroughly. And, eventually, I began to feel better. I suppose the hormones began to ease, but something else happened. I accepted, at first mentally, but then spiritually that I am going to be a mother. I will give birth. I will have a child. And I am capable of it.

So when February 2nd came I knew that I would be giving thanks. I planned a small ritual, a token of gratitude and honor to the Someone I believe is Up There.

I haven’t done much in the way of prayer or ritual in a very long time. Advent and Christmas felt blank to me and neither did Yule inspire.

But Tuesday felt…amazing. I sat in front of the candles and just prayed to God(dess)/Brigid/Creator/Whomever/Someone for a while and told them all the things I was grateful for. I thanked them for the rains that have graced the Hill Country this winter, for the sweet anticipation of the upcoming wildflowers (can’t wait!), for my baby, for my husband, for hope, and yes…even for winter and depression. Sorrow is the salt to our joy.

I cried while I prayed. I ate bread with almond butter and honey, and drank milk, in honor of Brigid. She seemed very close to me—someone I wanted to honor for childbirthing and storybirthing.  After about 45 minutes or so, I felt released from the ritual. Like I had housekeeping and hearthkeeping to accomplish—which is pretty appropriate given that in Scotland this day is a day of honoring the home.

I haven’t made any conclusions about this yet. But I know that it was important and I’m sure I’ll be mulling it over until my next post.

Until then, happy beginning-of-Spring.

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I haven’t posted in almost three months.  Which is okay.  Honestly, there hasn’t been much to say in the last three months.  However…now there are things to post.

1. I did decide to join the church group. It’s okay, so far.  It’s not an official affiliate of the church, which helps, since it’s not structured as an actual church group.

2. I’m pregnant.

3. We’re buying a house

4. Things are stirring again

This is how life happens, how change happens. Things go dormant for a period and now they’re starting to stir again.  I relate it to the ‘Wheel of the Year’ concept. A lot stirred in me in the harvest period, and then, afterwards, things went dormant. Now, in the spirit of the new year, things are beginning to bud. Under the surface. Ever so minutely.

There is no doubt that it is winter, even in Central Texas. The skies are steely gray, cold rain drops cling to bare limbs. Freeze warnings extend through the week.

There is no doubt that it is winter in my person, in my soul. There is a darkness in me that is cold, freezing, absolute. I have complicated feelings about being pregnant, many of them to do with my own fears, with some sort of blight that I carry with me.  But there is light. You must have winter to have spring, and all that jazz.

So I’ll be changing up the banner, posting more often. I’m excited. Nervous. Apprehensive. But most of all, I’m glad that it is winter. I am glad that Yule has passed, and Christmas, and now we can begin our period of expectant waiting. It is necessary this year for me to truly be in winter, to experience it.

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