It's been brutally cold here in the magic-crammed MidAtlantic.
The beautiful Potomac River is almost entirely iced over and the Canada Geese and mallard ducks are hard-pressed to find even a few spots where they can swim and dive for food. The ground is as hard and cold as iron and I'm completely disabused of the notion that I entertain for many months each year that Mother Gaia loves to make love to the soles of my bare feet, tickling them with soft grass, heating them with hot sand, bathing them in cool rain puddles. No, just now, the ground is lethally cold and feels as if it has never been in love with me. My memories of sitting outside in the middle of a pouring Summer rainshower, refreshed and in love, feel as if I must have imagined them. Will it ever be that warm again?
I step out on the deck in the slant, low, early-morning Winter sunshine, weak as old tea, careful not to slip on the ice as I feed the birds and the squirrels who are so hungry that even their inbred caution can't keep them from crowding around as I spread out peanuts and sunflower seeds.
We huddle, if we can, inside warm homes, moving quickly from home, to car, to friend's home, and back, bundled inside sweaters, scarves, mittens, and hats. I climb into bed at night wearing socks, and shawls, and flannel and snuggle under half-a-dozen blankets, covers, and comforters (what a wonderful word). By 2:30 or 3:00 am, temperatures dip as low inside as they're going to go, and my old cottage creaks, and moans, and whinges like, well, like an old woman, settling into the icy ground.
I spend some time during each day's practice re-charging all the things that I've knitted for family and friends with the energies of warmth and protection. I prepare vegetables and garlic (lots of garlic) for soup and sprinkle immunity, succor, and heat into the broth. I warm some of it in the morning before I leave for work and hand a tupperware container of it over to the homeless Vet who stands each morning, even this 18 degree morning, at the on-ramp to the Roosevelt Bridge. When I say to him, "Can you stay warm today?" he says, "I'm going to try. Thank you." It's not enough, but it is what I can do.
Every conference call of the day begins with people comparing the cold in their part of the world; Europe's gotten hit pretty hard, too; clients in New England show how macha they are by bragging that this is nothing; people in San Diego feel happy in their choice of landbase. We may live in a technological wonderland, but our animal bodies are still almost overwhelmed by this deep Winter and we connect by talking about it.
And, still, Imbolc is coming. Inspiration is coming, that inner fire that results in an outward blossoming. Poetry is coming and the intense heat of a forging fire is coming. The ground will thaw and warm. The strengthening sun will coax tiny green seedlings out of their hard shells. We need to shake off our Winter weariness and wariness and prepare to dance on newly green grass, to look for snowdrops, hellebores, crocus, and daffodils.
What will you strip off first? What part will you first expose to the light? What will you keep covered as long as possible?
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 . . . ."