Late last night, I stepped out, as I often do, onto the back porch for a moment before going to bed. It's my final moment with the trees and animals in my backyard, and I wanted to see if I could find the first sliver of the new Moon. It was cold and the sky was covered in clouds and then -- it rippled. (I don't know how to describe it any better, that moment when the veil moves aside a bit, thins so that you can see more through it than you could see before, you take the pill that makes you larger. So, it rippled.*)
The wind changed and tiny ice crystals began to fall, with a lovely bright noise, from the cloudy night sky. The branches of trees and lilacs, heavy with swelling buds, rustled like sistrums. The bark on the birch trees made love to the sudden cold. The atmosphere was instantly charged and I fell, standing upright, through caves of ice, across frozen fjords, into what C.S. Lewis called Northerness, high across the Arctic sky with Serafina Pekkala. My Scandinavian many-times-great grandmothers smiled at me, waved from their skis, reminded me that I come from a people who revel in the cold, pointed to my bare feet, and flew off into the dark. And I was back, on my own terra cotta tiles, in my own screen porch, watched seriously by my own squirrels and cat. And the wind chimes made a very serious "ting" as if to say, "Now, Listen. Now it begins."
And, there they were: the Maiden and the Crone, Spring and Winter, dancing around my frozen backyard, already carpeted with icy snow, dancing with the kind of stately gaiety reserved for special occasions. I watched them, so happy together, a beloved Nonna and her beloved granddaughter, and was reminded of the line: Life and death upon one tether/And running beautiful together. And, that's how it happens. We get one last big snow and that snow mulches and waters the already-emerged green shoots of daffodils and crocus. The warm winds of March will blow in within hours and melt the snow and it's all as it should be/has been/will(please the Goddess)be.
I've had an incubating idea for a post about how the old Maiden/Mother/Crone-Spring/Summer & Autumn/Autumn & Winter paradigm no longer works now that women live longer (thanks, Louis Pasteur!) and that Ostara ought, more than the festival of the Maiden, be thought of as the festival of play, something that even we old crones really enjoy. I wanted to talk about how one becomes freer, in some ways, to play and have fun as one ages, but you know, I'll let that gestate for a year. Just now, I'm all drunk on that loving dance of grandmother and beloved granddaughter.
Turn, Wheel of the Year, turn, and turn, and turn me around with you. I love my life more than I can say.
*It's so difficult as to be impossible to write in any comprehensible way about ecstatic experience, about what happens to a mystic in the moments when all the barriers dissolve, when what appear to be the false boundaries fall away and what appears to be the true web appears. St. Teresa tried, St. Catherine of Sienna tried, Rumi tried, Mary Oliver tries. My own pathetic efforts fall far short. (And, no, it doesn't pass my notice that it's during liminal times that this devotee of Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads, is most likely to feel the infinite touch the buckle of her spine, to use Oliver's phrase.) In the end, words don't work for mystical experience, which happens to Younger Self, not Talking Self. Go catch that one moment in 53 years when the ice starts falling with exactly that sistrum sound. Go have an orgasm that dissolves all the borders. Go twirl around on a grassy hill with a friend and fall rolling down the hill on the green grass that's grown there for years longing for a child's body to roll down it. Stand in the sun and see that photosynthesis is the ultimate act of love and pleasure and fall down struck by the love and pleasure of seeing it. Go drink the mad witch's brew, love the reeling midnight through, grok the stars, come back, and we'll "talk." But talking won't really do any good, will it? And, by then, you won't mind, will you?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."