Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Grateful for Warmth and Light

img_0832

Candlelight – photo by M. A. Phillips – 2020

The power came back on a few minutes ago. It’s been out since ten in the morning. Where we live, electricity is pretty cheap, so that’s how we heat our home. Unfortunately, we’re at a disadvantage when the power goes out in the winter.

It didn’t really bother us until a few hours in. Then the house grew noticeably colder. We dressed in multiple layers, found our flashlights, and lit candles. The cats lounged with us under blankets on the couch. It was quite cozy, but I worried about the pipes and everyone’s comfort during bedtime.

There are things I’d like to do to better prepare for such instances. My long term goal is to add an extension to the house and include a wood stove in the plans. Not only is it a reliable, safe source of warmth in these emergencies, it would have allowed us to cook.

img_0824

Cheerful winter offerings. Photo by M. A. Phillips – 2020

Brigid and the Winter Crone were in my thoughts today. I made offerings and prayed for warmth, to give thanks for what we have, and for safety. Losing the power during a blizzard for most of the day is an inconvenience for us, but nothing serious. None of us rely on any equipment for our health. We had shelter from the storm. We had plenty to eat, and my husband picked up some warm dinner on his way from work. We had our phones and a robust data plan, but I did stop using mine after a while just in case. We’re remarkably blessed.

Had it gone on more than a day, things could have been bad, especially for the pipes. I’m grateful to Brigid for warmth and light, to An Cailleach for wintry lessons of humility, and to all the people out there working to restore power.

Sometimes it takes annoyances to put everything into perspective.

Read Full Post »

img_0756

Sun shimmering on ice. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

As my path is bound to the land, I continually work to pay attention to the seasons. In Druidry and other polytheistic paths, we tune into the cycles. Tradition emphasizes agricultural shifts, but they are always linked to whatever song the bioregion is singing at the time.

In elementary school, teachers taught us about the four seasons. I don’t doubt that my parents taught me first, but I distinctly remember dividing a circle into four equal parts and filling it with different colored balls of scrunched up tissue paper in a primary classroom. Yellow flowers, green leaves, orange leaves, and white snow. As I grew up and embraced a polytheistic view, everything become more complex. In a good way!

Many of us modern Pagans subscribe to some form of the Wheel of the Year. I’m not here to untangle that cultural knot, but there’s no denying many of us celebrate roughly eight holidays. Some may practice more or less depending on cultural focus. Then there is the emphasis some place on the lunar cycle.

This time of year, where I live, it is still winter. While others around the globe post photos of flowers or spring floods, we have a foot or two of snow on the ground. In my opinion, February is the hardest month. Many of us in Upstate New York are at our limit of tolerance for the white stuff. Even while I strive to find the silver lining and embrace the Winter Crone’s lessons, her teaching is arduous and painful at times. February brings more daylight. The sun melts the snow, but the temperatures drop below zero at night. Each morning, there’s a new layer of ice. The photo above is my driveway. It’s a sheet of hazardous winter glass hungry for broken bones. To get to my car, I’ve started wearing a pair of ice fishing cleats.

Our winter is more nuanced than a picturesque Christmas card. December, January, February, and March each have their own defining characteristics. The Winter Crone performs a different spell for each and alters her teachings. Paying attention to the subtle changes can enrich our daily practice. As we develop a ritual of mindful observation each month or lunar cycle, we should start to notice patterns – seasons within seasons. These will fuel our traditional practices and perhaps inspire new customs.

 

Read Full Post »

Today it was 1° Fahrenheit in my neck of the woods. The air hurt my face. While knowing that temperatures can and will dip lower didn’t make it any more comfortable, a delivery raised my spirits.

img_0620

Unboxing succulents! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2020

A pagan acquaintance recently posted about her subscription through Succulent Studios. In an age where there are subscription boxes for everything under the sun, the concept of receiving baby plants intrigued me. I don’t need any more plastic, shirts, jewelry, or candy, but I always want plants. I think it’s my nostalgic longing for gardening that sets in each winter.

img_0622

A “blue burrito” succulent. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2020.

I didn’t subscribe until I read more. The company strives to be as earth-friendly as possible. They don’t use plastic in their packaging which is something I value. They grow their succulents organically, and the pots are biodegradable. All the same, I’m eager to find them new containers. Follow my Instagram to see where I ultimately place them!

img_0621

Elegant blue chalksticks. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2020.

I tried to be really hip and video my unboxing, but I was seriously awkward. My final take begins with a really inappropriate sounding sigh. Then my husband pointed out I filmed it vertically. I guess I live up to my blog title! Perhaps I’ll record next month’s arrival. I’m already excited to welcome more green friends to my home!

EDIT: If anyone is interested, I have a referral code from Succulent Studios. It’s good for $5 off a box. Code = HQduA8slwwB

Read Full Post »

Turning on the Heat

img_0172

The inside of one of our baseboard heaters. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019

Last weekend, my husband and I performed an annual ritual: cleaning the heaters and turning on the heat. We were extra thorough this year. He dismantled and even removed them from the wall to perform additional maintenance. I cleaned the inside, wiping the metallic vertebrae that distributes heat.

I used this time to reflect on how we warm our home in the colder months. For better or worse, the house we bought uses electric heat. As I understand it, we’re lucky to be on municipal power. The warmth doesn’t come from a central flame, but it is heat all the same – and that, in my spirituality, is Brigid’s power.

Perhaps, in the future, I will mentally prepare myself for this yearly rite. Maybe I’ll write a formal prayer with rhyme and meter to recite as I perform my chore. Perhaps I’ll do it some cold winter day as I reflect on how blessed I am to live in a cozy home. This year,  I didn’t make the connection that this could be a sacred act until I was in the middle of it.

As I turned the dial on each unit, I quietly prayed to Brigid – a simple declaration of gratitude for her warmth and safety. Though I lamented my lack of foresight, I walked away feeling satisfied – and warm.

 

Read Full Post »


I felt stressed the last couple of weeks. Work has been a major contributor to that, but I also credit the extreme cold. It meant a lot of time inside, shielded from the sun. When the temperatures rose to the 40s this weekend (yay, heatwave!), I heard the call of the forest and needed to get out. I knew it was time when my family was getting on my last nerve.  Thus, I retreated into the woods.  I walked down the trail, admiring the mingling deer and snowmobile tracks.  I delighted in the songbirds joyfully welcoming the sun through the clouds.

I felt that I could breathe.

True to my Sagittarian sign, I’m frequently beset by wanderlust.  I crave exploration and adventure, and simply trudging around the forest on my own can satisfy that.  I slipped off the trail and just stood, staring up at the canopy of the arboreal cathedral. I felt so free and rejuvenated.

With the forest fresh in my heart, I’m ready for another week.

Read Full Post »

I was brushing off my car, the wind whipping my hair around my face, when I caught myself silently grumbling about winter.  I actually really like winter, but I dislike driving in lake effect snow, and I don’t know of anyone who enjoys brushing off their car. As true as that is, I stopped the moment I realized that I was mentally whining and started to think about what I enjoy about the season.

  • Walks in a quiet, frosted forest.
  • Seeing animal tracks.
  • Big, fluffy flakes.
  • Feeding the birds in the cold of winter.
  • How prominent the evergreens become in our landscape.
  • The way the light hits icy water just right, making it look like crystal.
  • Frosty patterns on glass.
  • Dusty snow that easily falls away from the car on busy mornings.
  • How most insect pests hibernate or die from the cold.
  • Clear, gelid starlight.
  • Making snow people and snow fairies with my daughter.
  • Throwing snowballs at my husband, and dodging his retaliations.
  • Cozy evenings in with my family.
  • The anticipation and celebration of snow days.
  • The way my daughter’s eyes grow wide with wonder at the sight of snow.
  • How tough I feel for surviving Upstate NY winters every year.

Reflecting in this way made the challenges more bearable.  I hope I can still do this when January, February, and early March inevitably challenge us with even colder, icier days.

What are your favorite aspects of winter?

 

Read Full Post »

An Cailleach is wide awake and busy! We woke to a winter wonderland.  My daughter got that excited, magical look in her eyes, and her chief goal for the day was go go outside and sled.  As for myself, I knew I had to make offerings to An Cailleach and get into the trees.

I had already made an offering of bread yesterday.  My UPG is that the goddess loves homemade bread, and she often demands it.  I thanked her for the upcoming beauty and lessons, and I prayed that she would be gentle to my family this year.

Today, after making some offerings at my altar as part of my daily devotional, I brought some maple whiskey outside and poured an offering to her.  I have a bowl in my garden shrine area.  It was full of snow, so it felt very appropriate. I then brought offerings of birdseed, peanuts, and apple outside for the nature spirits, including something for the deer who are sacred to An Cailleach.

The forest pulled me, so I let my feet carry me onto the ATV trail.  There were fresh tracks, but it was delightfully quiet when I was there – quiet save for the pleasant chirp of birds seeking food and a small, gurgling creek I hadn’t known was there before.  The silence of winter gives us the opportunity to explore forests in ways we can’t, or won’t, in the warmer months when they are filled with thorns, tall grass, ticks, mosquitoes, and such. I’m still getting to know the woods around my new home, and I’m glad I gave in to my wanderlust just a bit.

A gurgling stream created a meditative spot in the woods.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »