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The Turning of the Year – Samhain 2013

October 30, 2013
Photo by Amy Freund

Photo by Amy Freund

The Turning of the Year

Walking silently in the woods is not an option this morning. Last night brought a light frost so grass and fallen leaves crunch as I head into the woods with the sun’s first rays. Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, is here again and I’ve wandered to the woods to begin my process of honoring this ancient celebration.

The hazelnuts have long been gathered by the squirrels, no berries linger on the huckleberry bushes. Harvest season is over; it’s time to celebrate and honor the bounty the Earth has given to nurture her children through the winter dark to come. In many traditional cultures, this is the transition of the yearly cycle from end to beginning again. The corn stalks may be dead but the saved kernels will be seeds for next year’s garden.

Traditional cultures around the world not only marked the solstices and equinoxes in their journey through the Wheel of the Year; they also paid tribute to the in-between times, the half-way points. November 1 is the midpoint between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice. The three Nights of Summer’s End. Samhain, [pronounced SOW-in (Ireland), SOW-een (Wales) or SAV-en (Scotland)] marks the end of the old and the beginning of the new. It links us with the world of spirit at the turning of the year. October 31, when we celebrate Halloween, is the last night of the old year. November 2 is the first night of the New Year and the night of November 1 is the night between that belongs to no time.

Our modern Halloween and its symbols is rooted in traditional observances from Celtic and Northern European harvest ceremonies to the Mexican Day of the Dead. It is a sacred time, when the veil between this world and the Otherworld is so thin that the dead can walk with us and warm themselves at our hearths. It is also the time when some mortals, especially shamans, seers, and poets, are able to find entrance to the Otherworld through special doorways that open only at this time.

Grocery store entrances and roadside fruit stands overflow with pumpkins waiting to be carved into frightening visages. There’s a reason that

Pumpkins waiting to be carved. Photo by Amy Freund

Pumpkins waiting to be carved. Photo by Amy Freund

skeletons, skulls, and ghosts traditionally adorn our yards and windows for Halloween – they are emblematic of the dead. It is time for the old year to die and for the living to honor endings and death. As we wander through our world of scarecrows made with dead corn stalks and ghoulish carved pumpkins, we can also remember the corn kernels and pumpkin seeds that sit in a cool, dark place, drying, ready to be planted again in the spring. As we hang cardboard skeletons on our doors and place skulls on our altars, we remember that we are the seeds our ancestors planted.

The origin of this festival in all cultures that observe it lies in the honoring of our ancestors, in the respect for the cycles of life. One day, our children and grandchildren will be honoring our memory. It is, perhaps, reflective of the loss of a tradition of honoring our ancestors and our history that brings us in modern culture to a holiday whose main focus is candy, scaring each other, and seeing the dead as ghouls.

This year I am choosing to honor not only the Nature Spirits, as I always do, but also my human ancestors. On my walk this morning I’ve invited companions: my grandmother, who was my refuge and taught me unconditional love; my aunt who encouraged me to excel at whatever I wanted to be; my father who taught me the love of fishing and sitting quietly on the water; and my grandfather, who I never knew, but whose towering memory infused my life with a love for the spoken and written word. Tonight I will invite my ancestor companions to warm themselves at my fire and I will share food from my harvest with each of them. I will tell them the ways they contributed to the garden that is my life and I will listen to see if they have any messages for me.

I will also gather remaining debris from this year and throw it in the fire. I’ve saved some corn stalks to serve as symbols of things in my life that no longer serve me, things I need to let go.  Projects that I’ve abandoned, dreams that no longer propel me, anger or hurt that will fester if I allow it to stay through the winter. Walking a path tuned to the cycles of nature helps with that process. My tongue has fond memories of the green beans from the garden but the vines that produced them no longer bear fruit – it’s time to put them in the compost, knowing the seeds I saved will start the cycle again in the spring.

However you choose to mark this turning of the year, remember the primary teaching of the natural world: that all things move in cycles. Samhain, summer’s end, the end of the harvest, brings the beginning of the time to journey within, to dream new dreams. Celebrate the brilliant colors, the bountiful harvest, the sweet joys of summer’s light and bounty. Honor the ancestors who brought you to this cycle. Burn or bury the debris that no longer serves you and let it be food for the earth. Then you’ll be ready to settle into the dream time ahead.

Bright Blessings.

–Bridget Wolfe @2013

For enchanting ways to connect to the world of Nature Spirits and open doorways to Faerie and the Otherworld, please visit http://www.fairywoodland.com/

Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox – Points of Balance

September 19, 2013

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Geese winging their way south above cattails and cornstalks, highlighted by a glowing harvest moon, leave no question about what time of year it is. The apples are ripe, tomatoes are going into canning jars, the fawns are growing their winter coats so losing their spots. The sun is still warm but nights are crisp and longer. As the Harvest Moon prepares to leap over the horizon, the impending Autumnal Equinox asks us to contemplate the question of balance once again.

In all of the realms that reside on this planet, the cycles of life we observe rest on the way light is determined by our planet’s yearly journey around the sun. Whether we live in the topics or at the poles, we have four seasons based on the length of our days and nights. At two points in the seasonal cycle (the solstices) light and dark are at the extremes. At another two points (the equinoxes) light and dark are  . . . well . . . equal.

Each of the four moments marks a turning point. At the Summer Solstice (Between June 20-22 in the Northern Hemisphere, December 20-23 in the Southern Hemisphere), we have the most light, least dark, of the year and then immediately the light begins to wane. It’s a disconcerting thought to realize that the moment we mark on our calendars as “Summer begins” is actually the high point, after which the light begins to wane again. The Winter Solstice is the opposite – the deepest dark, followed by gathering light.

The Equinoxes (around March 20 and September 22) are the midway points between the two extremes, the points where dark and light is perfectly balanced. With the Spring Equinox, we know it’s safe to come out of hibernation, greet daffodils and apple blossoms, prepare the ground and get ready to plant seeds. It’s a time of new beginnings.

At the Autumnal Equinox, the harvest is in full swing as we gather-in the fruits of our summer labors in preparation for the cold, dark times to come. Even in today’s bustling cities where artificial light blazes 24 hours a day, a deep impulse inside of us is drawn to tuck away supplies to sustain us on the inward journey ahead.

The Equinoxes are a point of balance between extremes, a moment to contemplate where we’ve come from and what lies ahead. A moment to stand still, take a deep breath, stand on the fulcrum of the teeter-totter, and look to both sides. What seeds did you plant last spring that bore fruit this summer? Have you harvested them all? Are bare stalks from which you’ve stripped fruit still standing in your garden? What seeds do you want to save for planting next year?

I use gardening as a metaphor both because I do a lot of it and also because even those who never get dirt under their fingernails can feel those cycles in their DNA. No matter how removed we think we are from nature and her patterns, our bodies and our psyches are still tuned to the cycles of the planet. Ignoring that reality is part of what causes anxiety and stress in our lives.

My favorite part of the Autumnal Equinox is savoring the last of the golden days and tucking that light into my heart to fuel the fires I’ll need for my dreaming in the dark time to come. Summer is “doing” time; winter is for dreams and internal journeys. At this moment of balance between the two, I can taste them both and value them each for the opportunities they offer me. For now, there’s plenty of “doing” left – the harvest isn’t finished, the garden won’t be put to bed until Samhain (Halloween). I don’t yet feel a need to make a fire for warmth nor to turn off phone and lights and snuggle in front of the fire with paper, pen, and cat.

What I know at this moment of balance is that as I move through these cycles, they also move through me. When there is more light, I’m called to focus outward; as the light recedes, my gaze turns inward. The degree of balance I feel in my life depends on my willingness to stay tuned to the flow of that cycle, to be aware of it, to honor it. I’ll practice for the Equinox moment tonight by standing in the meadow at sunset. As the sun touches the horizon in the west, the Harvest Moon will rise in the East, bringing another example of the balance that exists all around us. No matter what we do to the planet, the seasons will continue until the sun burns out. Perhaps, if we humans find our way back to our own balance, we – and our gardens – will still be here to enjoy it.

May you find a balance between the natural and the mystical worlds in your life this Equinox – a balance between the bright light of the external world and the rich and fertile darkness inside.

–Bridget Wolfe, September 19, 2013

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Lights In The Sky – You Are Made of Stardust

August 11, 2013

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There are few things more awe-inspiring or imagination igniting than lights streaking across the night sky.  I remember years ago, sitting on a mountaintop outside of Los Angeles in mid December, wrapped in parka and blankets, watching streaming silver ribbons of the Geminid meteor shower transform the night. If Id ever had any doubt that the universe was magic, that spectacular show would have erased it.

With this year’s Perseid meteor shower upon us (peak viewing Aug. 11 & 12), it occurred to me that I’ve never talked to the Fairies about how they view meteors, so I headed for the hammock in the woods, got comfortable, sang the song I use to open the connection, and began imaging my Geminid memories from years ago.

Within moments I heard the hum that told me one of the Fae had activated the gateway a few feet away. I kept my eyes closed and reached out with my other senses in the way the Fairies had taught me and felt a presence materialize at my side. Of course. Given the subject, it made perfect sense that Light That Listens would be the emissary.

“Thank you for coming,” I said.

“It’s an interesting topic,” she answered. “What would you like to know?”

“I know the scientific explanation of what meteors are,” I told her. “Comets, as they orbit around the sun, slough off debris from their tails. When the Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of the comet, some of that debris gets pulled into our atmosphere and burns up and that’s what makes the streak of light. But it always seemed to me there was something important about pieces of space dust, comet dust, that have been circling the cosmos for eons, falling to the earth in a blaze of light. Although our space-ship Earth is constantly moving through the cosmos, our atmosphere shields us from that knowledge and we travel, snuggly tucked in our safe envelope, unaware that there are real, not just theoretical objects that exist beyond the atmospheric membrane. When meteors come crashing through that boundary, some part of our psyche has to understand that there’s actual physical stuff out there.”

“Breaking through protective boundaries is a good place to start,” my old friend began. “In some ways, each human is a little like the Earth, moving through space surrounded by a protective shield. You’re energetically connected to everything else around you just like we are, but many of you are so comfortable inside your bubbles that you’ve forgotten that. Part of our job, as Fairies, is to contrive ways to break through your atmosphere and get your attention, to remind you that there are other physical realities outside of yourselves.

“Those other realities are always there, just like the space debris is. We’re always trying to figure out ways to go blazing through your atmosphere to wake you up and remind you.”

“That’s quite an analogy,” I told her after it sank in. “I have a pretty good idea of what you bring when you break through the barriers. What do the meteors bring to the Earth?”

“Memories, experiences that those particles gathered in their long journeys. They’ve been to places the Earth hasn’t and they hold the memories of those travels. When the individual pieces break up in the atmosphere, those experience memories are released and taken by the winds to scatter them around the planet. Sooner or later they get caught in a rain drop, fall to the soil and soak in for the Earth to absorb. If you’re lucky, some of those memory fragments will be in the air you breathe or in the soil that grows the tomato you eat for lunch. That’s how the experience of the universe slips into you.”

I sifted through that information for quite a while; when I surfaced, the space that Light That Listens had filled was empty but I had found what I’d come looking for.

When you see a meteor streak across the sky and you catch your breath in wonder, that’s the stardust in you, recognizing itself. You came from the stars – a “falling star” reminds you of that and awakens the memories. In that moment, be sure to make a wish.

–Bridget Wolfe, August 11, 2013

Learn more about the Perseid meteor showers here.

Be sure to visit FairyWoodland.com for magical creations to connect with the Faerie Realm.

Solstices and Cosmic Pendulums

June 21, 2013
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Summer Solstice sun rises over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge
Image from mysticrealms.org.uk

The sun rose over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge this morning, as it has every Midsummer morning since the Heel Stone was set in place some 4,500 years ago. At Newgrange, in Ireland, the rising Winter Solstice sun shines through a narrow opening and follows the passageway to the center of the monument. From the Temple of Karnak in Egypt to the Ajanta Caves in India to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, ancient sacred sites all over the world were built with features that aligned to the rising or setting sun of the Summer or Winter Solstices. (There are plenty of sites that align with the Equinoxes as well but that’s for another time.)

Why? Why would it matter so much to know precise times of those events that it was worth building huge monuments to track them? Ancient civilizations marked the passage of the year not by arbitrary numbers on a calendar but by the observable events of the cosmos. They accurately observed that the movement of the sun in relation to the earth was like the swing of a pendulum – it went to a maximum point in one direction, which was the longest daylight of the year, then moved to a maximum in the other direction, which was the longest night. They knew that the lengthening days of Spring would peak at the Summer Solstice, that the long dark nights would get no worse than at the Winter Solstice. They knew that all of life happened between those extremes.

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The Fairy Tree in the Woods

In our modern lives, our calendars mark the dates of these profoundly significant events as an aside – if they note them at all. For civilizations that understood the cosmos as an intricately woven web of which they were a part, the cycles of the sun, moon and stars were the calendars they used to navigate their lives. Since this is still the way the Fairies relate to the seasons and the cosmos, I wandered into the woods today to my favorite place to meet with the Fae. I asked them how they saw the difference between cultures, like ours, that track time through an arbitrary calendar and cultures like theirs that align their own lives with the movement of the cosmos.

Their answer was very simple. They know when it’s time to celebrate and reap the bounty that the Earth offers them – and they know when the pendulum has swung as far as it can without breaking the web. When that moment comes, it’s time to stop the celebrations and plant what’s needed for the next cycle. In our world, they say, we don’t know the limits of the web, we don’t know that we can’t just keep taking from the Earth, that we have to give back, too. We have forgotten, they say, when enough is enough, when the pendulum has swung as far as it can in one direction.

They reminded me that the next stop on the wheel of the year is the Fall Equinox – a place of balance. And then they reminded me that, whatever our calendars may tell us, they’re only an illusion on the wall or in our electronic gadgets. If we remember and realign ourselves with the cycles of the sun, the moon and the stars, perhaps our civilization can remember to swing with the pendulum.

They also wished me a Blessed Solstice before they melted away to celebrate.

–Bridget Wolfe, June 21, 2012

The Heart of the Matter: Fairies, Love, and Valentines

February 14, 2013

ImageAt Fairy Woodland, we always like to ask the Fairies about their thoughts on human customs and holidays – we find interesting perspectives on our culture that way. So we asked them what they thought about Valentine’s Day.

“Who’s Valentine and why does he or she get a special day?” they wanted to know.

We explained that there are differing legends but the one we like best is that St, Valentine was a priest who lived in the Roman Empire almost 2000 years ago. The Emperor at the time had decided that married men made poor soldiers so he issued a ban on marriage. Valentine defied the ban and married couples anyway and was arrested for his actions. The legend says that, while in jail, he fell in love with the jailor’s blind daughter, healed her blindness, and wrote a final note to her before he was executed signed “from your Valentine.” He was later declared a Saint by the Catholic Church and February 14 was declared his “feast day” because that was supposedly the day of his execution.

“So that’s why he gets a special day?” the Fairies chirped.

“Well, partly. There have always been pagan festivals in the middle of February that had to do with fertility and . . .”

“Of course!” they interrupted. “It’s the time that seeds and trees start to wake up and birds find their mates! It’s a time to think about Spring and creating new life!” (They get very excited about some subjects, hence all the exclamation marks.)

“That’s right. Well, the Church didn’t like people observing pagan rituals, especially ones like this that involved young men and women pairing up for a day or even the whole year because that often involved . . . well, you know . . . sex.”

Silence. “???????”

“OK, let’s skip that part. The important part of the story here is that somewhere during the course of human history, the legends of St. Valentine got connected with mid-February fertility rituals and tied to romantic love.” [We actually filled in a lot more of the various legends, including Chaucer and the Middle Ages, but there’s no point in repeating what you all can find on Wikipedia.]

Sarafina-Wings-UpSarafina, who some of you may be familiar with because she’s insisted on having her picture on our  Facebook page (please “like” us!) in her attempts to become a star, was the first one to get the point.

“So the day is about connecting with people you love. Touching hearts.”

“That’s it exactly!” we told her, very pleased. “So, what do you all think of having a special day set aside for that, where we send special cards with hearts on them and give each other gifts?”

The resulting discussion was still going on when a gentle rain started and we humans decided to adjourn to a drier environment but we’d learned a lot about love and heart from the Fairies’ perspective.

The main thing is that a heart connection for them is not about romantic love – it can be, but that’s not the core. A connection that involves the heart is a bond of pure joy and a celebration of the very existence of the other. It’s how a Fairy feels when riding the wind or coaxing a seed to sprout. In fact, love, that connection from the heart, is how Fairies navigate the world and work their magic. Everything they do comes from that link they feel between their heart and the heart of every creature and element they come in contact with. They honor each other and the life around them with their love every day.

We humans are not always as skilled at that kind of heart connection so perhaps it’s a good thing that we declare a special day to honor that in ourselves and each other. We hope that, beyond the flowers, chocolate, jewelry, teddy bears, and candlelight dinners, we can all remember that the symbol of Valentine’s Day is a heart and make a connection from that place with each other and all the living things around us.

If there’s no special human in your life with whom you can share Valentine’s Day, the Fairies suggest you find a tree or a stone or a weed growing through a crack in the sidewalk and let your heart connect to the Fairy energy that lives there. The Fairies will be delighted to be your Valentine, every day of the year.

We wish you joy in your heart.

Solstice 2012, Cycles, and “The End of the World” Part 2

December 20, 2012
MilkyWay Over Lake Titicaca

Children of the Stars – Milky Way Over Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by James Neeley

PART 2 (For The Beginning, see post below)

Welcome to the new world – which, as always, will be what we make of it. The difference this time, if you are willing to suspend disbelief for a moment, may be that we have the universe supplying energy to help us make something new

THE END – Sort of

It’s easy to read things others have written, find the sense and logic in what they say, and incorporate their conclusions into your own world view. In trying to explain what you’ve read to others, however, the thread sometimes becomes tangled. I’ve been glued to the keyboard for 3 days, trying to lay out a succinct explanation for how December 21, 2012 came to be portrayed as a significant date and why it should be seen that way (although not in the apocalyptic nonsense themes out there).

I have failed. There are parts that I thought I understood and find that I don’t. There are some important details that I just can’t make fit, at least not from an astronomical perspective. I will share with you what I understand, what I don’t, and then go on to what I believe.

Let’s start here: The Long Count Calendar of the Maya tracks a time period of 1,872,000 days or 5,125.36 years. Scholars have correlated the Long Count Calendar with our Western Gregorian calendar and determined that this cycle “ends” on December 21, 2012. Please note: this “end” is actually a reset. Our calendars “end” on December 31 each year and we get new calendars for Christmas and put them on our walls to start the cycle over on January 1. The Maya Long Count Calendar covers a little more time but there’s no reason to think it doesn’t reset.

What makes this reset interesting and has created much speculation both in the New Age metaphysical world and in pop culture is that the reset of the Long Count Calendar coincides with an astronomical event described by some researchers as rare. (Rare, as in it only happens approximately every 26,000 years.) This is where it gets tricky. There are others who say this event happens more often and is no big deal. It seems to depend on how you define the event and where you’re looking at it from.

A little context: If you run a line through the earth from the north pole to the south pole, you have a theoretical center line around which the earth rotates to give us our day/night cycle. This line is the earth’s axis. Have you ever looked up at the night sky to figure out where North is? You look for the Big Dipper, follow the two stars of the bowl upward and there’s Polaris, the North Star, right? We call it that because, while the rest of the stars rotate around it, Polaris stays in a fixed place to our eyes.

But the place in the sky to which the axis points has not always been Polaris – and it won’t always be. Where the north axis line points in the sky gradually shifts in a 26,000 year cycle because the earth isn’t a perfect sphere and it wobbles a bit. (Picture a top when it’s not going full speed.) This is called precession. The place in the stellar landscape to which the axis of the earth points, moves.

This phenomenon is observable in more ways than tracking what star stays fixed in the north over a period of thousands of years. It’s also observable in smaller ways, like where the sun is in relation to the other stars on certain easily marked dates, like the summer or winter solstice. This Winter Solstice, the sun, when viewed from the earth, will be as close as it ever gets to our galaxy’s central plane and in a direct alignment with the black hole that is at the Milky Way’s center. The theory put forth by those who study not only the astronomy and archeology of the Maya but also their metaphysical beliefs, is that the Ancient Maya who constructed the Long Count calendar put its zero or reset date at December 21, 2012 because they knew that would be  the Winter Solstice on which the Solstice sun would align with the center of the galaxy.

That’s what I can put together from what others have researched and written. Now it’s time for my thoughts about what it means. The Long Count Calendar was constructed to mark what, for the Maya, was a point of major renewal, the completion of a long cycle, and the connection with the center and source of all energy in their universe. The Maya, like many traditional cultures, didn’t separate their science (like astronomy) from their metaphysics. Being able to predict, in a scientific way, observable phenomena like equinoxes and solstices didn’t diminish the Maya’s awe and wonder nor stop their quest to understand their relationship to the divine.

It’s unfortunate that this amazing confluence of events has been so distorted by a culture that seems to recognize transitions only in context of cataclysm and disaster but, perhaps, that’s appropriate. After all, we are polluting our ground water, killing the oceans, tearing up the earth, and filling the air with chemicals that keep the earth from breathing. We approach every conflict as an excuse for violence, often destroying the children who might develop the tools to stop the planet from galloping toward a mass extinction event that we are in the process of creating. I wonder, when the next Mayan Long Count Calendar resets, will there be any of our species left to notice?

What some of us are doing with this time is seeing it as an opportunity for World Renewing, for developing a planetary culture that nourishes all life that inhabits this precious blue globe on which we find ourselves. We are attempting to open the gateways, to bring back the connection between the observable universe and the spirit that inhabits it. The predominant “vision” I have heard in the time leading up to this day is that whatever this “alignment” brings is a shift away from the testosterone driven, “might makes right” agenda of the last few thousand years towards a more feminine energy. An energy that values community above individual, cooperation above aggression, respect above dominance, and love above fear. Perhaps if enough of us choose to embody those values, we can “reset” more than a calendar.

We have known for a while that the Nature Spirits are ready to lend their hands in that endeavor – perhaps the cosmos is on our side as well.

Even if you give no credence to any of the Mayan Calendar information, it’s still the Solstice. If you want some thoughts about that and ideas for ceremonial celebrations, scroll down in this blog. There are Winter Solstice posts from 2011 and two from 2010.

Bright Blessings. The new world will be what we make it.

I am deeply grateful to Rohaan Solare for his years of research and thoughtful, intelligent exploration of this phenomenon. Please explore his website, http://emergent-culture.com, for reasoned and rational insights into many aspects of our world in this time. Much of the information in this post is drawn from his book, The Legend of 2012. http://emergent-culture.com/category/the-2012-dec-21-2012-end-of-mayan-calendar-long-count-cycle/

© Bridget Wolfe, 2012

Visit Bridget, read her stories, and see John Crawford’s magical gateway sculptures and mystical images at fairywoodland.com

Solstice 2012, Cycles and “The End of the World” Part 1

December 15, 2012

Solstice 2012, Cycles, and “The End of the World”
[Having reached the point where I was ready to scream if one more person referred to “The Mayan Apocalypse,” I decided to try and inject a little sanity into the discussion of what actually is an important event. It requires some background information and turned out to be longer than I had anticipated so I’m doing it in installments over a few days. This is part One.]

THE BEGINNING

Golden warmth from a sun hanging far to the south greeted me this morning after a day and night of rain. Crystal droplets glistening on trees, song sparrows and finches gobbling down grain at the feeder, hummingbirds doing aerial acrobatics, all lured me outside, morning coffee in hand. Not exactly the context from which to contemplate the approaching end of the world but it’s only a week away so I’d better deal with it.

In a few days it will be December 21, 2012, the Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere) and the “end” of the Mayan Calendar. I’ll share what I’ve gleaned about what that means in a moment but first, this newsflash: The world will not end on that date. The Mayan Calendar does not imply that. There is no such “prophecy.” If you already have your doomsday party plans made, I’m sorry to spoil your fun. Perhaps you can rename the party “Zombie Apocalypse” – isn’t there always one of those waiting in the wings? Whatever you do, just keep the Maya and their calendar out of it.

The nonsense about the apocalyptic end of the world is a wonderful fiction for those who want to sell books and movies but it unfortunately obscures a real cyclical completion that is worth paying attention to. Fortunately, there are some people who have been doing exactly that for many years and whose insights offer a great deal of food for thought.

First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a Mayan scholar, nor a scholar of Mesoamerican calendrical systems, but the subject has fascinated me since I was first introduced to it in the early 1980s. I’ve read a lot, thought a lot, and tried to integrate what I found into the Earth/Nature Spirit teachings I’ve been gifted with over the years.  What follows is a distillation of the parts of this phenomenon I think matter for us in this time.

There are three aspects to the story of 12/21/12 that stand out for me: The nature of cycles, the relationship of our Sun to the center of the galaxy, and the effect of cosmic forces on each of us and on the planet as a whole.

Let’s start with cycles. From dawn to dusk and back to dawn again; from new moon to full; from spring to summer, fall and winter, then back to spring again. Those are simple ones that we’re all aware of and some of us are even finely tuned to the signs of transitions within each of those cycles. We feel the crisp chill in the air, see the first leaf that turns yellow, spy the brave crocus shoot peeking through the snow.

There is a great deal of mythology about the effect of these cycles on us as individuals, especially surrounding the full moon.  Although there is much anecdotal evidence for increased emergency room visits or an upsurge in psychiatric crises during the full moon, there’s very little research to support such claims. There is, however, a factor of awe that accompanies the image of that silver orb majestically rising from the dark line of the horizon, then hanging gloriously in the sky. I think it affects our imagination, our sense of wonder, and touches our heart and spirit in a way that may not be measurable.

Although cycles are usually seen as a repeating circle, anyone who pays attention can tell you that the next cycle is never the same as the last. Cycles manifest more as a spiral; they come back to the same place but not the same time so the next cycle is changed by the events of the previous one.

The concept of cycles is important here because calendars measure cycles. The Mayan Calendar is not a measurement of a single cycle – it’s actually a calendar system that measures many different cycles. When we refer to “The Mayan Calendar in connection with Dec. 21, 2012, we’re referring to the Maya Long Count Calendar that measures a cycle of 5,125.36 years. (It actually measures a series of cycles that total 25,627.83 years. On Dec. 21, 2012 it resets.)

NEXT INSTALLMENT: See Part 2, above. The Calendar, Galactic Alignment, and theories about what it means. For those of you who want more information now and want to read ahead, please check out the source for much of my information that will follow: Rohaan Solare, The Legend of 2012. http://emergent-culture.com/category/the-2012-dec-21-2012-end-of-mayan-calendar-long-count-cycle/

— © Bridget Wolfe, 2012

The Equinox – A Balance of Light and Dark

September 21, 2012

Most of us seek to find more light in our lives but Nature – and the Spirits of Nature – know that the cycles of life require a balance of dark and light. Just as we humans need a period of sleep in order to replenish the energy necessary for our waking lives, Nature requires time to rest and renew as well.  The Autumnal Equinox is the point where the yearly cycle shifts from outward exuberance and growth to inward contemplation, dreaming, and recharging ourselves.

The transition rests on a point of balance – the Equinox. On the day the sun passes over the equator, hours of day and night are equal. Soon it will be time to turn our attention to harvest, saving seeds, and preparing for the cold times but on the day of the Equinox, the focus is on balance. We live in a world increasingly defined by duality – up/down, left/right, in/out, male/female, war/peace, day/night. We’ve been so conditioned to seeing everything as a tension between two linear extremes that we often forget that reality is actually spherical and infinitely variable. We also tend to forget that even duality lies on a continuum – which has a center, a point of balance.

Nature, in her infinite wisdom, reminds us of that balance point twice a year, on the Vernal (Spring) and Autumnal (Fall) Equinoxes. On the day when light and dark are in perfect symmetry, there is a natural peace. Day and night do not battle for dominance but stand in perfect alignment, allowing us and all living things to feel safely suspended for a brief moment. We can pause in our rush from one extreme to the other, take a deep breath, and just BE.

What does it mean to be in balance within ourselves and our own lives? And do we really want balance? If you’ve ever stood in the center of a teeter-totter, you have a visceral understanding of balance as a noun, where things are equal or in harmony. Such is the phenomenon of the Equinoxes. Much New Age and self-help literature has been written to offer guides on how to achieve such an equilibrium in our lives. Create a balance of work and play, action and contemplation, body and spirit, mind and emotions, we are told; halve the extremes, stand in the center, and find peace. That’s what the sun does on its arc of bringing light to the Earth at the Equinox.

The Earth/Sun dance only gives us this point of balance twice a year but Nature offers us symmetry, another kind of balance, everywhere we look. From a nautilus shell and veins in a leaf to honey combs in a beehive or the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, symmetry abounds. The concepts of balance and symmetry are at the very heart of life, the core of mathematics, chemistry and biology. Mathematical equations dance on either side of an “=” sign while oxygen and hydrogen search for each other until their balance gives us water.

That version of “balance” evokes the verb or the act of bringing something into balance and, if you’ve ever tried standing in the center of a teeter-totter, you know what a challenge that can be. The ACT of seeking balance is what the Fairies most enjoy because it’s what keeps life moving. Although the peace of that static moment of balance brings us a welcome respite from the constant juggling act we do in our lives, the striving toward that balance is the dance of life. Endeavoring to find balance can be a process of joy and exuberance or chaos and overwhelm – or anything in between.

The gift we are offered at the Equinox is a day devoid of the tension striving for balance brings. The cosmic forces have arranged the opportunity to feel perfect balance in our lives, to let the peace of that state seep into our bones. I intend to begin my day with bare feet planted firmly on the Earth, one arm stretched to sunrise, the other to sunset, eyes closed, breath slow and easy.  I will feel myself at the center of my sphere of life, balanced between left/right, front/back, up/down, inside/outside. As the sun and earth offer me balance between light and dark, I will find the place of balance between my body and spirit, mind and heart. I will feel for the balance point between work and play, solitude and companionship, creative surges and healing rest. I am the fulcrum that balances the competing elements on the continuum of my life.

When I engaged in this ritual at the Vernal Equinox, light-hearted voices whispered a secret to me. When we seek balance, we assume duality – opposing poles of energy pulling us between them. When we know balance, the world becomes an all-inclusive sphere from which we choose the elements we need to create our heart’s desire. This Equinox, accept the gift of balance Grandmother Earth and Grandfather Sun offer and spend at least part of the day feeling how large and full your sphere of life is. If you can’t feel the center point to stand in, find a playground with a teeter-totter. Whether you stand on the center fulcrum until you balance the sides or find a child to teach you where to sit to hold it steady, you’ll be teaching your body the beauty of that precious moment of balance – before the child decides that’s boring and wants to go up and down again.

@Bridget Wolfe, September 21, 2012

To find more Earth-centered thoughts and creations, please visit fairywoodland.com

In Search of a Blue Moon

August 30, 2012

Interior of Fairy House Gateway #1106, Diving Into The Moon

BLUE MOON AND THE FAIRIES
Full moon time is the high point of each month in Faerie, when all normal “work” stops and dancing, singing, and celebration reign for one night. (Actually, there are often celebrations for all three nights of the full moon.)  With all the buzz swirling about Friday’s full moon being a “blue moon,” I thought I’d check with our local Fairy clan to see if they were planning anything special.

Initial response to the question went something like “Blue Moon???!!! The moon’s going to be blue??!!!! But what about the silver light we need?” (The soft, magical light everyone notices when visiting Faerie is derived from moon light but that’s a complicated subject and deserves a post of its own.)

I explained the term didn’t really refer to the color of the moon, that it was just a term for the second full moon in a calendar month. Silence. Puzzled looks. “But your calendar is just an arbitrary arrangement of linear time that’s not really connected to anything in nature. So, because  two full moons that are their usual 29+ days apart fall into the same artificial box you’ve constructed it’s supposed to be something special?”

I muttered something like “I guess I need to think about that” and slunk back to the safety of my computer and the google machine.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF “BLUE MOON”

The best and most comprehensive explanation I found for how the concept evolved is here. The writer of this site did a wonderful job (including information about moons that actually looked blue!) so I won’t bother to rehash it all but the relevant piece is this: The original definition of a Blue Moon referred to 4 Full Moons in one season . . . a season is defined as the time between a Solstice and Equinox or an Equinox and Solstice.”

The shift from that definition seems to have begun in a 1946 article in Sky and Telescope magazine in which the author reinterpreted the “blue moon” reference as the second full moon in a month. (See here  if you want the whole story.)

Armed with new information, I wandered back to the Fairy circle and tried again. “OK, so this full moon isn’t special in your terms but do you do anything special when there is a second full moon in one season?” I asked. I saw lights in Fairy eyes. Now we were speaking the same language!

“You mean a Blessing Moon!” they sang. “Oh, yes! Those are very special! Double magic for a season!” They went on until they ran out of exclamation marks.

“Are there special ceremonies or songs for that occasion?” I ventured.

“Yes, of course!”

“Ah, do you suppose they might be appropriate for the second full moon in a calendar month?”

“No.”

“Well, the next ‘Blessing Moon,’ as you call it will be between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox in 2013. When the time comes, will you share the special ceremonies and songs?”

“Of course!  Now go away. We have to finish getting ready for the full moon.”

Well, OK, then. I guess I have a year to wait. As for treating the second full moon in August of 2012 as a special “Blue Moon” – there’s something the Fairies perhaps aren’t aware of. When a lot of humans focus their collective energy on a particular date or event, just that act carries power. So, since the collective culture is treating this full moon as something special, it can’t hurt to add your energy. Focus on calm and quiet silver-blue light, blessing the earth and all those you love. And dance, like you would once in a blue moon.

Full Moon Harvest – Lughnasadh

August 1, 2012

Image

On a glorious full-moon summer night, thoughts of Autumn and harvest seem as strange as one-eyed gnomes or bunnies on rooftops. But it is August 1, the midway point between Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox. In the Celtic Wheel of the Year, this time marks the beginning of the harvest season and Lughnasadh (also Lammas) is the first of 3 harvest festivals. The Fairies tell us that in their realm, they mark this festival as the beginning of Autumn as well.

Traditionally, this is the time the grains have been harvested and the first bread is from the new crop is baked and offered to the Earth Mother, the Goddess, in gratitude for her bounty. This season of harvest is, in fact, all about gratitude. The seeds we kept safe through the winter, carefully tucked into fertile earth in the spring, nurtured, watered and weeded through the summer are now bearing fruit that will feed us through the winter to come.

The harvest season is also a time of letting go – recognizing which seeds failed to sprout or bear the fruit we had hoped and returning to the compost pile the dried stalks that remain after we harvest the fruit.

If all of this sounds like a metaphor for our lives – well, it is.  Our ancestors, like the Fairies, knew their lives were connected to the cycles of the Earth. From whatever continent our lineage hails, our genetic memory carries the harmony and flow of the seasons. In our fast-paced “modern” world, our conscious minds often ignore these shifts, but our bodies and our spirits remember. When we take a moment to honor the ancient patterns that flow through us, it helps to balance all the worlds we walk in.

Take a moment to sway like a stalk of grain in the silver light of the full moon. Let your heart be a basket in which to gather what you have planted this year and brought to harvest and acknowledge those things still growing in your garden that have yet to bear fruit. Make an offering to the Earth Mother and the Fairies as thanks for their help in the growing and for keeping you tuned to the Wheel of Life. Tomorrow, revel in the warmth and the sun because this is only the first of the harvest festivals – the time of frost is still a long ways away.

–Bridget Wolfe

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