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To Every Thing There is a Season

March 18, 2014

Spring-Daiseys---webIMG_9306Summer, Autumn and Winter tend to slip in gradually here at Woodland Springs but Spring generally arrives in leaps and bounds with only a few hints to herald its coming. First the daffodils and plum blossoms dot the landscape, followed by more storms. Then, from one day to the next, the sun comes out, the apple trees open their blossoms, the rhododendrons pop out in a blaze of color, the whir of rufus hummingbirds fills the air, and the grass in the meadow grows 6 inches overnight.  Spring has landed with both feet.

I love the lift that the arrival of Spring gives to even the gloomiest of spirits. The re-emergence of life after long Winter slumbers has long been a symbol of hope and regeneration. All cultures have a mythological tale about springtime that involves the victory of light over dark, life over death. Persephone returns from the underworld, Ostara rescues a bird and turns it into a rabbit who lays eggs. The seed that, in autumn, fell from the dying plant into the dark, cold ground of winter, now remembers its encoding and is reborn as the tiny sprout that will become first seedling, then full grown plant to make the seed that will allow the cycle to renew. This is a time of hope, of new beginnings.

I always walk the woods to prepare for major seasonal shifts like Equinoxes and Solstices but today I wandered to the river as well. Small jewels of light danced atop wavelets as the outgoing tide began pulling the river back to the sea. I was reminded of when I was a child, sitting in a hidden spot along the Mississippi, listening to the whispers of Fairy voices in the bushes beside me.

I watched the current swirl twigs and other bits of flotsam from cubbyholes in the bank and carry them on their journey, feeling the harmony of the seasons in the flow of the river as well. Water flows to the sea, is absorbed into the air, comes back to land as rain and flows into the river again. The twigs and other organic life that ride the currents will decompose and their molecules will return as well, I suppose, but not in the same form.

“When a tree blows down in a Winter storm, it doesn’t come back to life in the Spring,” whispered a familiar voice floating in on the breeze. “Sometimes you need to say goodbye to those whose bodies failed to survive the Winter to give the seeds you plant in Spring room to grow.”  Light That Listens, the Elder of our local Fairy clan, settled on my left shoulder, bringing as she so often does, the final piece of some jigsaw puzzle that I’ve been struggling with. She always seems to know.

There are loved ones who succumbed to the Winter, who aren’t here to greet the Spring with me this year. I had been struggling with how to feel the joy of Spring while grieving the recent losses of Winter. What  Light That Listens reminded me is that before I can plant seeds and rejoice at the exuberance of the new life of Spring, I have to turn the earth and bury the dead remains of Winter. I took a deep breath and said goodbye to beloved friends, Natalie, Linda, and Don, whose bodies did not survive the Winter, sending my love for them on its way with the river.

The body of the tree that falls in the Winter storm feeds the seedlings that will grow from it. The bodies of my friends won’t do that but their spirits will feed the stories that are born this Spring. As the sun balances above the equator at this Spring Equinox, I will hold my breath and feel the timelessness of equal moments of light and dark. As my breath begins again, I will leave the physical losses of Winter in the rich dark of the earth; then I’ll plant  seeds in that earth to sprout and reach for the growing light. I know which seeds I’ll plant for each of my friends, in honor of their spirits.

Welcome, Spring. And thank you, as always, to the Spirits of Nature who help us move through all the seasons of our lives.

— © Bridget Wolfe, 2014

The photo in this post was taken by John Crawford and is a beginning to one of his digital tapestry prints, many of which reveal the Nature Spirits who hide all around us. See more of his prints here.

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Nature Whispers Through Fairy Voices

December 7, 2013
Fairy Woodland in Snow

Fairy Woodland in Snow

I woke up to snow on the ground this morning. That’s not unusual for most of you in the Northern Hemisphere in Winter but where I live on the Oregon Coast, it’s rare.  Moisture usually comes as rain thrumming on the roof with gusts lashing into the windows or hail pounding like marbles. We also have winds that sing in the fir trees and waves that pound the rocks at the beach. In other words, weather is loud.

The first thing that touched me when I ventured out was the quiet. Yes, my boots made a crunching sound but, when I stood still, there was nothing to hear. More flakes started to fall, penny-sized brilliant white pressed pieces of art, landing at my feet and on my outstretched hand.  They made no sound as they floated, softly, from their place of birth in the sky to my home on the earth. Nature was whispering.

Our world pays attention to Nature mostly when She shouts. Hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards, lightening storms are Nature raising Her voice – and we hear Her. Most of the time, though, She whispers. On sunny days with gentle breezes, we go about our normal lives making human noises that drown out Nature’s whisper.

Can we learn to listen to Nature when She speaks softly? Or, like a mother whose child won’t get up and get ready for school even though she’s called three times, will Mother Nature have to stomp Her foot and shout louder and louder before we train our ears to hear Her? There have always been times when She spoke in Her storm voice – it’s part of Her exuberance and Her cycles. But it seems She’s been raising Her voice more often, shouting louder, trying to wake us up.

I don’t know if Nature minds shouting. I do know that Her children – plant, animal, and human – often suffer when She does. I also know that the Spirits of Nature, the Fairies, who speak with Nature’s voice, have been trying to get our attention and strengthen our relationship with Nature for a long time. Their voices whisper to us from every tree, they brush our ears on the breeze, they soothe us when we lie on the earth. If we are quiet and listen, they teach us how to care for Nature.

As Winter takes hold and the green world slumbers, find ways to bring Nature inside and let Fairy voices whisper in your dreams.

©Bridget Wolfe, 2013

Please visit the Fairy Woodland website to find magical creations that help
keep the Fairies – and their voices – close to you.

Winter Sky, the Pleiades and the Faerie Star

November 24, 2013

The sky has been clear the last few nights, an unusual happening on the Oregon Coast in winter so I’ve been able to indulge my favorite sky-watching activity next to meteor showers – gazing with awe at the nightly march of the Pleiades, Orion, and Sirius across the dome of night.

Orion-ConstellationFor those of you who are not ardent star-gazers, let me explain the fascination. The dominant feature in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter night sky is the constellation Orion, the hunter – the one constellation that almost anyone can find. If you follow the stars of Orion’s belt upwards, you find the Pleiades; if you follow them down, you’ll get to Sirius. These three features of the night sky account for a lot of astronomical lore related to ancient human structures, from the Pyramids of Egypt to the ones in the Yucatan. They’re also so easy to recognize it feels like I’m finding old friends in a crowd.

My favorite of these is the Pleiades, perhaps because of the mythology around them. The Pleiades are also known as “the seven sisters;” actually a cluster of hundreds of stars, there are seven generally visible to the naked eye. According to Greek myths, the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione had seven daughters who were nymphs, serving Artemis. “After Atlas was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders, Orion began to pursue all of the Pleiades, and Zeus transformed them first into doves, and then into stars to comfort their father. The constellation of Orion is said to still pursue them across the night sky.” (from Wikipedia)

Photo by Jason Ware

Photo by Jason Ware

This star cluster has captivated humans for millennia. A little internet research will turn up myths from every continent, each of them having some group of seven humans who for various reasons are transformed into stars.

Faerie StarIn the Faerie Realm, the Pleiades are associated with the seven pointed Faerie Star (or Elven Star). According to Faerie lore, the seven pointed star is a gateway symbol, signifying the intersection between the human and Faerie realms. Three points on each side, perfectly matched, and a seventh point where the two worlds meet. This is the energetic structure that allows us to move between the worlds.

Knowing that nothing in the Faerie Realm is merely symbolic, I called on my favorite wisdom teachers from the Otherworld to help me understand the connection between the Faerie Star and the Pleiades. “I understand that the energy movement within a seven pointed star is the key for opening Faerie gateways but how do the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades, fit into this?”

“Meet me at the Fairy Circle tonight, before the moon rises,” I was told. “Wear your parka and bring a blanket. And bring chocolate.”

Fortunately, the weather report calls for clear skies tonight and I have a stash of chocolate. If I get any answers, I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, do you have any thoughts about the relationship between the Pleiades and the Faerie Star? If you do, please share in “comments” below.

© Bridget Wolfe, 2013

For ideas for creating a Fairy-friendly environment in your life, please visit
http://www.fairywoodland.com/

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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

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