Monthly Archives: December 2006

Into the Cold

Becoming celebrated our Dark of Winter rite on Saturday with a ritual of silence and fire to honor the time in between — the moment where the sun seems to stand still at the point between waning and waxing. And while the days may now be getting incrementally longer, we are just now entering the coldest part of the year in these parts — January and February. It almost seems that we stay awake long enough to call back the sun’s return just to hibernate for the next two months just to keep warm. I have also noticed that sunrise has moved from 7:21am to 7:25am in the last week, while sunset has moved 4 minutes later accordingly. While I know intellectually that the days have stopped waning, those four minutes in the morning make a difference in the intensity of darkness when I leave my house at 6:45am. And I miss the sun more in February with its overcast skies looming over the bare trees than I do in the darkness before Winter Solstice.

This year I, who hate being cold, am trying to welcome the cold weather and (hopefully) snow. I know that the land, river, plants, and animals in my part of the world need the rest and renewal that the coldness brings to the entire cycle. I am also trying to accept that, no matter how much I need to do right now, my body is telling me to be quiet, to rest, to lie fallow. Changing my frame of mind from “giving in to the dictates of natures” to “listening to my body with respect” is proving more difficult than actually doing it. But it is in how I perceive the relationships between my body, my upbringing, and the land that changes what I do or don’t do from failure to wisdom.

Not really sure any of this makes sense, but my fingers are cold and my eyelids heavy again. The sun is on its way back to us, but I am ready to hunker down under the blankets for the next two months. Wake me in March.

Winter Solstice Stillness

In the sunlight and the shadows of leafless, winter trees, I walk alone and silent. Hush, child, and listen to the quiet expectantly.

Yes, there it is — so still most miss it — the heartbeat between the waning and the waxing. Just a moment, quick as the blink of an eye and full as an open heart.

Turn off the TV and the Christmas music. Put down the books. Stop the fantic bustle. Just be still in the silence and darkness. Just breathe and listen for the blood pumping through your body.

Wait for it. Do not “do” anything. Breathe into it. The space between — the Solstice.

Reminders Along the Way

Over the last two days, I have let myself feel the sadness of isolation, rather than covering it up with too much to do or pretending that everything is okay. I reached out via this blog and another, and received words of wisdom and comfort and silliness and love. For these things I am grateful. O Gods, am I grateful!

You see, I know that I am surrounded and connected. I know that I am walking my path. With each step, I feel a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy that I am making meaning in my life, helping others to find connection, and opening my heart to the heart of the Universe. Sorrow that as I explore places I have never been I have to leave behind where (and who) I was before.

I am lonely. I am scared. But I am pushing on.

I am grateful for the curiosity to question, the push to begin, and the courage to continue.

It is my will to follow my vocation. It is my will to meet other folks on my mountain.

Struggles in Connection and Isolation

The Divine abounds everywhere and dwells in everything…

And yet, so often I feel completely alone, disconnected, alienated from those around me.

For everytime I feel truly connected in a glorious moment of joy, I feel the cold ache of isolation and the nauseous yearning for that lost connection.

Sometimes I feel that the more I follow my path of helping others to connect with themselves, others, the world around them, the divine, the more alone and isolated from them I feel. The more I stand aloof.

I once had a vision of myself standing on the side of a mountain in the dark and looking down on the festival lights of a village below. Those were my people, but I didn’t comfortably fit among them. And I railed against this vision and its implication.

Sometimes I feel like I’m totally begging people to be with me, to like me, to love me, to play with me, to not leave me. Sometimes I wonder if I coordinate events for my group to meet the needs of the group or my need to be with people. Sometimes I wonder if I really know anything, if I really do anything worthwhile or good.

Hanuman, the most devoted, help me to open my heart and feel the love of the Universe.
Hanuman, the wily and strong, show me the paths both up and down the mountain.
Hanuman, wise counselor, I pray for your guidance in working with others
Hanuman, playful monkey god, let me embrace the joys of life in the company of friends

Domestic Shrines

When M. and I moved into our new home together, we decided to create shrines around the house. These shrines are works of art that are pleasing to me and to my gods. By creating space for the gods in my home, I honor them and parts of myself that I could easily forget in the rush of mundane life. The shrines also serve as a visual reminder of the important things in my life and as a way to slow down and listen to my heart and my gods as I light the incense and pour the libations.

Our first altar-creating effort together is located just under the stairs in the dining/living room. The intent was for it to be the “family altar,” but as we have lived with it, the meaning for me has shifted. I use this altar as a place to give offerings to the spirits of the house and of the land on which we live. When one of us has misplaced something or if the energy of the house feels wonky, I light the incense and pour an offering of whiskey. We leave a large smudge stick of lavendar and cedar on this altar as well.

Ganesha is one of M’s deities and his shrine lives in a little niche in the front hall. M does daily offerings and prayers of sweets. We have found that Ganesha seems to not like my peanut butter cookies, as we find them usually pushed out of the bowl but not off of the altar and onto the floor.

Also downstairs in the living room is what has become in my mind the family and ancestor shrine. Neither M or I are Mexican, but we have collected some Mexican folkart, and I am a big fan of all things Day of the Dead. We have placed photographs of my family and his alongside some Dead of the Dead sculptures.

In the upstairs hallway, we have created a healing shrine to Asklepios and Hygeia. Here we make offerings of coins and wine as we ask the gods to help us with our healing work (M is a psychotherapist and I am beginning to learn hands-on healing). We have decided with this next month to start a familial tradition of doing a healing rite to Asklepios and Hygeia at the new moon.

In our bedroom, we have created a marriage altar to visually remind us each day to keep our marriage a priority in word and deed and to help us visualize and work toward the kind of loving relationship we want to have.

In my studio, I have my personal working altar and shrine to Hanuman. Each morning I light a green pine-scented candle and reflect on my work with the element of Earth this year. I then light some incense as an offering to Hanuman and ask him to help me open my heart to those I serve and to help me be devoted and strong in my vocation.

If you have shrines, however simple or complex, in your home, I encourage you to share them. I know that I would love to see them.