A Journey With Blackbirdowl

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snow tango for the goddess!
Snow slips with a swish as the shrouded shrub
scatters its icy Burdon silently upon the frozen ground.
All hail the sun’s return”
Carefully, I place each foot upon the snowy path as I move slowly through the garden. I arrive teetering at the rowan tree. Here, the snow is a treacherous undulating icy swirl, polished by my feet as I have stood twice daily in this spot since the snow first fell. I shift my feet to find a better grip.
On the main road half a mile away, early morning commuter traffic swooshes its way to work. In a tree ahead of me, a magpie clatters, from further along the gardens, another responds and then they syncopate a rival’s duet, punctuated by the chich-chich-chich-chich of a bad tempered robin.
Behind me, great wings flutter vigorously through the snow laden boughs. A rustle, a slipping sliding sound and something falls and is heard no more. All is quiet save the gentle drip-drip-drip of snow melting and falling from leaves rocked by a soft wind.
Wings beat purposefully against harder objects; small rustlings give way to another fall of iced powder. I get a sense that I am surrounded by the watchful silent birds. I wait.
Overhead, the sound of a muffled plane moves slowly as though with difficulty through viscous air. The metal bird connects place to far-flung place. I become aware that I am not alone. Like a necklace of watchers and listeners, others stand and wait. ON hills, in humble back gardens, overlooking the sea, amongst the trees, friends and strangers are waiting with me to welcome in the sun’s return. Our purpose connects us. We are a tribe.
I wait. Slowly, helplessly, another branch releases its icy Burdon. Softly the watching creatures shift as I do, my boots grating loudly on the icy ground. The air lightens and a sharp little wind begins to blow from the east.

“One planet turning,
Circling on her path around the sun,
Mother Earth is calling her children home.
Let’s keep it burning
let’s keep the flame of hope alive
Make safe our journey through the storm.
Light is returning
although it seems the darkest hour
No one can hold back the dawn.”
And behind the clouds hidden by the tall buildings and the trees, I feel the sun move its way into the new day.
There is something about “allowing” I think as I stand in the new day. As the earth turns and the sun rises and the days grow slowly and imperceptibly longer, what is it that I need to allow? Allowing is not submitting, it’s purposefully giving permission for something to change.
“”Aha”” I say, as this message connects with the sulky one who resists everything she has no control over. Slowly I walk through the snow back to the house. My feet sing out as I walk, the sound rising inexorably up the octave and the alphabet as the snow changes from iced powdery through to shining slush and all points in between. The snow sings:
“Prub-prub-preb-preb, dreb-dreb, drib-drib.
Crug-crog-gred-crig, shlop-hslop, shlip-shlip,
Delighted by the song, I move back down the garden, finding the places where the sound changes so I can step and stamp my way through my own private dance
prub-dreb, prib-drib”, “crib-shlop, and “shlip-sheee!”. I am lost in my feet and the snow as I stamp out a tango for the goddess.
Oh but now my toes are frozen! It is time to stop, reluctantly I remember who and where I am. I execute some fancy steps, slip, swivel round and then right myself again. Was that a snort of mirth I heard, I wonder as I climb back into my kitchen to contemplate my personal ambrosia, porridge and peanut butter!

15 Dancing for the Rough Hand Goddess
Quietly, the earth sleeps, surrendering to the long night, submitting to the stillness in rest and tranquility before her work begins again. The dark mother, older than the rough granite rocks, holds me in a capable embrace as I let go. Square, dry rough strong hands rub warmth into my chill limbs.
Wrapped in a soft wool blanket, I walk through the winter woods. Laced branches are stark against the dark night sky. Frozen clumps of snow, bend and bow the trees into distorted, aged beings. Ancient beyond centuries they hunch over the path. Carefully I stoop and squeeze lest I disturb their brittle gifts.
The path is long. I walk on. Hours pass. In time, the moon rises gleaming above the horizon. It spreads silver fingers through the woods, pattering the path with the weird silhouette of the bent trees.
A thick trunked yew tree stands before me, squat and rough. Impatiently, I search for the entrance amongst its shaggy roughness, and finding it, stoop and enter. In the pitch black I feel rather than know there are steps going down. Feeling with tentative toes, find the first step, touch the wall and carefully walk down.
Down in the belly of the earth, I thread my way through passages until the amber light dancing upon the walls warns me of a fire in the not too far distance. The passage opens out and I see a heavy browed mantle over a merrily dancing fire. Something moves from beside it. My old blind she wolf emerges into the light.
The darkness in the other corner shifts and I turn to see in the shadows an old, old woman.
I kneel at her feet. She lays a bony hand upon my head. I bow down in front of her. Her rough fingers touch my neck. Nothing is said.
She traces the line of my jaw and lifts my chin. I am aware of her acute scrutiny. I see nothing but the shadows. Behind me, the fire crackles and I remember my purpose this year is to be with the fire. I had forgotten this.
“Touch and be touched”, comes the thought unbidden into my mind. She releases me and, stiffly I rise and silently thank her for her wisdom.
“I have nothing for you,” I say contritely. She moves in her dark corner and I am suddenly seized by the desire to dance for her. I fling off the rough blanket. Slowly and shyly at first and then with more courage, I dance for her.
The fire warms my limbs as I turn. I move gracefully, slowly and then gathering speed until I am spinning dizzyingly in front of her. My dance brings me to pirouette, to leap and to bend and soon I am like the leaping fire, my limbs burnished by its heat. I know I am shining like a flame. I raise my hands to the ceiling and gradually slow down until I feel the stillness in my core as my hands are folded across my heart.

From the depth of the dark corner comes a sort of snort, or is it her gruff breathing? I think she’s laughing! She likes my dance! I feel a smile spread across my face and I execute a little caper, before bowing flamboyantly, swinging my blanket back onto my shoulders and turning to leave.

The corridor is dark and cold. I hurry along, wanting very much to be back out in the open, for I have things to do. I run up the stairs and push a way through the shaggy foliage at the entrance and emerge into the night.

The moon as sailed across the sky. On the east, the thinnest of golden threads begins to spread it’s warmth as the sun makes ready to rise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday and Sunday December 18 and 19, 2010:
It just shows that humans aren’t in control” she says soothingly.
The urge to resist what is, must be hardwired into my Psyche I think, feeling a sense of objection rising. My friend is right of course. This heavy fall of snow is something I must just submit to, for no amount of railing against the injustice of it all will make a difference. After all, we live in a Northern European country and it *is* December.
As the earth rolls slowly towards the winter Solstice, for the second time in a month, we have had a significant fall of snow in London. But we’ve got off lightly down south, in Scotland; they are gripped by the icy hand of winter that rarely allows the temperature to rise above 0. I should appreciate my fortune instead of moaning about being imprisoned.
The taxi coming to take me to the London Reclaiming Yule ritual which I am supposed to be co priestessing is stuck behind an accident half a mile up the road on a hill. My street is covered with five inch deep snow. There’s no way I can possibly get to a bus stop. I am stuck!
I’m champing at the bit to get out. It doesn’t feel right now like there is in any way enough magic in my life. My fire exploration this year seems to have staggered to a halt. Because of the stupid snow, these circumstances beyond control, I’m stuck!
I glower at the Christmas tree, for want of another witness of my sulks.
“How old are you?” I ask myself as I begin to unpack my bag. I shove the festive food back in the fridge and slump down in an armchair discontentedly.
Outside, the world is peaceful. No traffic has passed along this road now for at least 4 hours. The skies are quiet except for the occasional crow, magpie or cross robin. Everyone has retreated behind their closed doors. Why can’t I be grateful for the tranquility?
Later, I walk under a clear dark sky just before going to bed. I tread carefully around the garden; feeling for solid ground under my feet, for the blanket of snow is so thick that I don’t know where the path is anymore.
The shrubs bend low under their burden of snow. I squeeze past them, doing a sort of sideways limbo to avoid brushing up against them. Slowly, almost flirtatiously, they slide their heavy offerings into any warm places their frozen leaves can reach. My warm neck shrinks from the icy droplets that have somehow made their way there. The heavy branches wipe their cold dampness against my thighs. Easily, they slip globules of ice inside my boots.
I range free in the space between the objects THAT FILL MY GARDEN. THE space has closed in and become different as the shrubs and trees stoop beneath the heavy iced snow. They create tunnels and new courtyards, novel spaces that demand to be explored.
Everything is covered with thick fluffy snow. It is beginning to crisp at the edges, hardening into a frosty rind as the temperature slides below 0. It crunches under my boots as I move cautiously around the garden. It squeaks protestingly as I tread carefully, mindful to step gently and respectfully lest the slippery surface now hardening into treachery snatches my feet from under neath me.
I stand with my steaming cup of tea in the still darkness. Far off in the distance I hear the hiss of tires upon icy slush. From behind warm glowing windows, music seeps out – someone is having a party. Nothing else moves.
At dawn I take my morning cuppa and walk again in the garden. I reach out and tentatively touch the loaded shrubs. Trembling beneath my light touch, they softly let go their icy burdens and I feel chill ice cool my legs.
The skies remain empty. The metal birds have been silenced by the cold. Absolutely nothing is moving today. Only a crow caws harshly. I imagine him, black against the graying dawn sky, stark and uncompromising as he circles searching for food.
I progress round the garden slowly. The dancing goat is caked in ice. Still he cavorts capriciously in front of the grumpy-looking Green Man. I reach down to examine the alter by the rowan tree. It is completely covered by a froth of snow. The snow crackles crisply as I walk carefully under the crouching snow-laden olive trees, beneath the frost glittering grape vine and back to the warmth of the house.
The gas fire hisses contentedly. I curl up on the sofa, sinking deeply into the sheepskins.
“There’s nothing to do but be.” I say to myself submissively.