The delicious smell of lilac is in the air and afternoon thunderstorms rumble through the land leaving trails of bright green across the hills.
The days are longer and baby birds are purring in their nests waiting for momma bird and worm.
Everything feels fresh and new and possible. Couples are getting married to the backdrop of purple irises and bright pink peonies and the gorgeous warmth of the sun calls us out of our weathered skins and onto trails, mountains and lakes. Mother nature asks us to linger awhile, to get reacquainted with one another.
We seem to wake up inside, to this primeval certainty of early summer. We have made it through the dark, cold months and it is time to celebrate.
With roots in old pagan fertility rites, May wine is part of the ancient magic that calls us outward.
The hills have gone green in rolling waves and the apple trees are full of blossoms. Morning comes early with the sound of birdsong and golden light. Woven shawls and hot tea are still necessary accoutrements but warm sun and more daylight beckon us outward and thaws our bones.
Baby animals hold close to their mothers, birds return from their winter migration, and all the plants seem to be waking up. The shrill cold of winter has passed and slowly we begin to shed our own winter's layers.
All the land seems to be filled with flowers that serve one purpose and that is to please the fairies. All of Mother Nature seems to be flirting with our senses.
Lo, the spring equinox has passed. Tiny croci are popping up all over. The honeysuckle bush is fully green and small pink buds are beginning to form. The grass is waking up and the birds are returning.
Yet, a blizzard bears down upon us and inches of snow turn into feet. That same cold, north wind whips and curls the snow around each and every tree, branch, window, fence and tendril. It is a reminder that, not yet is it time to unfurl ourselves into the warm earth.
The goddess Aphrodite, who was born from the sea, dripping with sea foam, rosemary and roses sits beneath the warm Cyprian sun. Her long hair is braided with sea shells and seaweed and she is draped in loosely fit linen and leather.
Aphrodite gazes out at the horizon where the deep, blue sky and the ocean meet. She is fully present and aware of her birth-home of pulsating water and seminal tides. The sound of waves along the sandy shore is familiar, milky and soft. All is peaceful in the bright air.
A large feast has been laid out in the sand. Golden goblets are filled with burgandy herbal elixirs and a cream and rose cordial. There is fresh baked Koulouri-Cypriot bread, filled with sesame seeds, cumin, fennel and anise and cobalt plates of halloumi cheeses, bowls of oily grape leaves stuffed with rice and mint and salads of artichoke, wild dandelion, olive oil and tomato, along with black and green olives.
For dessert, a sweet semolina cake with lemon syrup awaits delighted tongues along with ripe strawberries and luscious figs. All are displayed on a lovely, colorful tapestry.
Winter has felt long and cold here. Freezing temperatures, snow that lingers, grey days that melt into cold nights and six inches of ice in all the shady parts of the street. Pots of simmering vegetable soups have been made in copious amounts and friends and clients have been in the midst of some deep, hard transformations.
Imbolc arrives none too soon. The half way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. I often feel a sense of relief and anticipation at this time. Soon the brighter and warmer days of spring will arrive.
Mid January often feels like a 'between' time. We are in the center of the winter. Square to it. Brave faces and cold cheeks.
The holidays are over, kids are back in school and the days are getting longer. We begin to day dream about Spring and our gardens, about a time when there is more sunlight and increasingly warm days. Yet, there are weeks of snow and ice between ourselves and Spring's glossy green stems.
Still, we wake to frosty mornings and cold houses. Bed seems a more rational choice. Now more than ever, it is time to bolster and nourish ourselves, to dig deep into our inner coffers and embrace afresh the opportunities winter holds.
The cold comes in, it presses in. Mornings are frozen and white. Icicles drip with the orange glow of the rising sun.
Down coats and hats and mittens and extra layers wrap around our fragile flesh. We retreat inward to the warmth in our bones, at our center.
Going out into the cold days and even colder evenings begins to feel more like a devotional practice. The sacred, snowy weather vestments are applied in layers one by one. Often with a prayer of some sort for divine heat.
It's time for the New Year's tidings and ringing in the new...
...and like an exhale releasing the old..
The anticipation for the New Year and all it may hold is palpable. Anything is possible.
Beautiful tables are set for feasts of savory and sweet, places are set for community and glass goblets are filled with golden bubbles. Altars are made fresh with evergreens and juniper incense. Crystals are given cleansing baths under the pale winter moon.
There is an air of expectation. A vast potential enfolds us and ripples out in all directions.
Who do we want to be this year, what adventures will unfold, what beauty will we see, what love will we embrace?
The days are increasingly shorter and the darkness seems to rise up out of the twilight air, faster than we can imagine.
A cold north wind blows down the hillside and swirls around tree roots and into each crevice of bark, as well as under door frames and through glass window panes. The stark branches, of quiet deciduous trees, stand as witness.
The land is covered in a blanket of snow and ice, while blue icicles hang from the corners of houses and barns. All of nature seems to be tucked up within itself.
The golden hues of autumn have given way to the monochromatic hues of winter. Heathered grey, soft black, haystack tan, weather white, green ash.
We pull our scarves closer around our faces and tuck our hands into furry mittens, yet somehow the cold seeps through and encourages us to hunker down indoors. We build all day fires, stoke up the thermostat and wrap ourselves in fleecy blankets.
Each morning, the sun rises and seems to slide along the horizon, keeping us in a state of perpetual wonder.
The days grow shorter and the dark rises up from the land so early. Days and nights grow colder and the last of the autumn's harvest is stored for winter. We enter the between time, not yet winter not past fall.
Large pots of savory root and winter squash soup bubble on the stove. Wollens are pulled from closets and fires are built at dawn and in the evening for warmth. Baked treats fill the house with the smell of comfort and sweet spice. The last of the summer herbs are hanging to dry all around the house.
Our attention begins to turn inward. Our energies come home as colder days and nights keep us closer to the hearth. We are often more able to "go into the deep" at this time of the year. Access to other realms is startlingly easy. Dreams may be more vivid, we may seem to 'know' things without knowing how, we may be prone to day dreams, or we may hear the whispers or see shadows of dear departed loved ones.
Lark Fox is a Priestess, an herb wyfe, Seer, intuitive healer, writer and ceremonialist.
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