Sunday, December 24, 2006

Casting off the blanket?

I’ve got a real resistance to moving into the light of the lengthening days you know. This is unusual for I am a terminal optimist and I normally love that swing from Yule towards Imbolc. But this year, it feels like it’s come along too soon. We’ve not had enough cold weather (save the last few days) and the garden isn’t properly asleep yet. I also feel a great sense of needing to stay in the dark and quiet, even though the calendar says otherwise.

A friend came over yesterday and we decided to try to give the wheel a shove by doing a dark and light Yule ritual. I had a sense that there was something I needed to let go of but did not know what.

We set out a simple Alter upon a white cloth with unlit candles and covered this with a black cloth. 1 unlit black candle, sitting upright in an iron cauldron was set on top.

We cast a dark Yule circle. In came tornados and wracking coughs, consuming and transforming flames, the crashing fury of torrents and tidal waves and the silent crushing rocks and torn earth. The deep voiced drum boomed slow and ponderous then faster and furious. We entered stillness, cold, sorrow, dying and decay, travelling to the centre of the silent rock, back to all we would die to and leave behind.

I was flat on my face. There was a deep pressure crushing me. My arms and legs were pinned down. Something unbearably heavy pressed between my shoulder blades and also into the base of my spine. It hurt but yet it was contained. It was hard to breathe.

Screwing up my face and gritting my teeth, I began to breathe heavily, to feel a great roar growing in my chest. I wrestled with it until, with a final effort, with the crashing of the drums, I opened my throat and howled. My limbs were free; I moved and was back in the room.

We lit the black candle and gave to it the things we wished to die to. The paper, upon which we had written these, curled and flamed until the whole cauldron was a hissing, pungent boiling rage which we gave to Hecate because we knew she was strong enough to hold it all. Catching a chant, with the drum beat, we cast out that which we no longer needed. Picking up the flaming cauldron we dumped it in the kitchen sink and doused it with water until it was silent once more.

Throwing off the black alter cloth, we lit coloured direction candles. We called in gentle winds, caressing breaths, flicking, licking sensuous playful fire, loving gentle flowing waters, and the firm embracing earth.

In the light of the flickering candles, we affirmed something beginning, lit a white candle for Persephone and committed to a goal, lit a red candle for Demeter.

The energy shifted again and we began dancing and singing, in a gentle joyful way. And as I jigged about, I felt the blanket slip from my shoulders.

Into my mind came the comment a friend had written to me the day before; “I guess darkness has a whole load of really unique meanings for you …” Until I began this journey with the Goddess, I might have been irritated by such a notion –assuming it implied that all blind people live in actual darkness. As I thought about my reluctance to allow the return of the light right now, I knew there was something more to explore about how I as a blind witch related to the wheel and I silently thanked him for daring to voice the thought. Mentally I folded up my blanket and put it to one side, ready for when I needed it later as I knew I would before Imbolc was with us.

And now it was time to close the circle and feast.

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