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Posts Tagged ‘Nature Spirits’

Snake Dreams

Today is my birthday, and it started with an odd dream.  All I can remember is that I was with family when, suddenly, we spotted two snakes slithering across the floor.  They were grey with lavender spots.  Someone (I can’t remember who – perhaps my own intuition) told me that they were venomous.  We all stood on chairs, watching them slither across the floor.  One of my cats – a large, black Norwegian forest cat – pounced on one and was bit in the paw.  I jumped from my chair to pick him up, but I woke shortly after and don’t know what happened next.

I’ve been rereading Diana Paxson’s Trance Portations in an attempt to once more start a regular trance practice.  Early chapters stress the importance of paying attention to our dreams, so I’ve been religiously keeping a dream journal.  As a result, dreams tend to stick in my memory after waking, and I contemplate their significance (if I feel any) for longer.

I’m not yet sure what to make of the dream I had, but snakes have continued to appear to me throughout the day!  Not live snakes, just… images in books, discussions with people at work…

Since it’s my birthday, I can’t help but think of the symbolism of snakes.  They shed their skin, thus rejuvenating themselves. As I enter a new year of life, I need to let go of anything that bogged me down last year and anything that is not useful to me.  I must embrace the opportunities ahead!

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We did something different this year for our “Solstice tree,” although it looks more like a “Solstice bush.”  As you may remember from recent years, I’ve felt that I should not cut a tree down for the holidays.  I don’t have a fireplace or wood stove, and I don’t have enough storage to keep it around for Northern Rivers’ bonfires later on.  Since I rent, I can’t just leave a tree outside my apartment until such an occasion either.  If there’s a green waste day, it’s not in any of my rental info, and I don’t really trust my apartment complex when it comes to it…   My family also doesn’t want to use the fake, plastic trees that are mass-produced in factories.  We had been decorating a medium-sized potted dwarf spruce, but, unfortunately, our friend was not doing so well last year and didn’t survive.  I only have three potted evergreens left, and they’re all small – pretty much saplings.  When the dwarf spruce died, I decided that I am done buying potted trees until I have land where I can plant them.

This year, we decided to cut some low branches from a blue spruce.  At the Arbor Day event held by Thousand Island Land Trust this year, Weretoad and I learned that trees can get infections when their boughs hang low enough to touch the ground.  I also know, through my father’s input, my research, and observations in the wild, that deer pull the lowest branches off of evergreen trees to eat in the winter.   Perhaps the trees suffer a little, but it also seems like pruning is inevitable and helpful.  I know from gardening that many plants require regular pruning (natural or manmade) to grow.  To keep the branches robust, we’ve put them in a large, weighted vase with water.  Just as with any other bouquet, I’ll have to check it regularly to keep it looking nice.

So our “bouquet” of spruce boughs may not look like a traditional holiday tree, but it’s special to us.  It’s also easier to display all of the ornaments we’ve made or been gifted on the large boughs compared to a dwarf tree.  When the holiday season is over, the branches will be very easy for us to transport to the forest to decompose.

Our 2014 Solstice “Bouquet” – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

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Offerings of love, corn, oats, tea, and an apple at the foot of the oak tree. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

As promised, I brought An Cailleach fresh, homemade bread. I wanted to make it extra special for the Winter Hag, so I stamped it with a snowflake cookie cutter before baking. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

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Our snow girl. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

The blizzard in Northern NY stopped this afternoon and we had some time to go out and clean up. The sun even came out for a bit! Bee and I took advantage of this to have some fun in the snow. We made a big pile and, inspired by this fun post I found on Pinterest, made a snow girl with an offering of birdseed and corn in her arms.

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An Cailleach is wide awake in Northern New York, ready to teach us humility and patience. May we all learn gracefully this season! Hail and welcome!

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Despite what the modern calendar tells you, winter is here in Upstate NY.  We’ve received snow.  An Cailleach is wide awake, shaking the dust out of her skirts and cloaks.  While she has yet to show her full power, it’s coming.  You can feel it in the chilly air.  While the snow isn’t sticking for long in most places, it clings longer in the forest shadows.  I went there today to visit and take in the sights and sounds.

Snow on the ferns. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

The oak tree was bare save for a few straggling, brown leaves, clinging on for dear life. The forest seemed very gray today except for the hemlock and lingering ferns. Although the plant world is very sleepy, the animals who share the realm were quite awake! Some blue jays got into a shouting match while I was doing my devotional ritual. I couldn’t help but stop and observe. Smaller birds darted through the evergreens – one bearing some broken branches that could betray the position of a porcupine. In the distance, red squirrels tittered.

Offerings at the shrine on a chilly November day. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I left my offerings at the base of the oak – fruit, seeds, oats, and sweet red wine poured on rocks.  I also left a crow feather I found on my way there.  It felt right to give it back to Nature.

As I left, I promised An Cailleach some bread next time.  UPG I’ve experienced the last few years I’ve made offerings to her have taught me that our regional winter hag loves fresh bread.  Good thing I enjoy making it!  What’s more, it adds some extra warmth to our home while An Cailleach dances outside.

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If you live in America and have a Netflix account, you’ll be able to check out a Nature documentary called “Ireland’s Wild River.” It follows the narrator, Colin Stafford-Johnson, as he shares the beautiful Shannon River.  I watched this recently on a lazy evening while my little one napped in my arms.  The visuals are stunning and immersive.  I  caught myself wistfully sighing more than once as I imagined myself there.  Many of the documentaries I watch about Celtic lands, particularly Ireland, are concerned with history.  This program was dedicated to the plants and animals that live in and around the Shannon’s meandering waters.  While we modern folk learning about Druidism in America must explore our own local flora and fauna, it is also important that we understand the land that our ancestors came from.  We may find helpful similarities between our lands and the Nature Spirits that live here which may further inform our understanding of lore, art, holiday observations, and other folkways.  Don’t expect a lot of depth, and especially don’t look for much discussion on the old magical beliefs of Ireland, though.  However, it could be just what you need to inspire a new prayer for the Nature Spirits.  If you need to relax and have 52 minutes to lounge, why not indulge in some beautiful imagery of Ireland’s lush Shannon River?

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