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Fairies and Earth Changes

March 25, 2012

Spring’s here – where are the Fairies?

The Fairies are confused. (Some people who hang out with these ephemeral creatures on a regular basis might comment that this is not unusual but those of us who don’t want keys to disappear or milk to go sour would never dare voice such an opinion.)

Blossom in Snow

We first noticed the chaotic energy after the record snowfall the night of March 12.  We occasionally get a light dusting on the Oregon Central Coast in Winter – maybe even enough to cover the emerald grass. Six inches in March?! Unheard of. And it was wet snow – so heavy that the night rang with branches virtually exploding off the trees with the weight of the snow.  These same trees regularly waltz with 80 mph Winter winds but, confronted with alien circumstances, they were unable to cope. Power was out for two days, phones (even cell) and internet, longer. Oh, and the cats were really annoyed.

We did our best to rescue forsythia, honeysuckle, and other bushes from the frozen white blanket that had pinned them to the ground, dragged fir branches out of the driveway, brought in fire wood, hauled camping gear up from the studio, and drove into town where friends had power and internet. It felt like we were driving through a disaster zone – power lines lying everywhere, the downed trees that had snapped them littering the side of the road.

In the next days, after the rains returned and melted the snow, we ventured out on our land to assess damage and see how the Faerie Realm had fared. We found broken tree limbs, flattened blackberry thickets, and jumbles of Elderberry and huckleberry leaning into each other but most of our green-world friends in the forest seemed OK. Through the muttered confusion of bushes and branches trying to right themselves, we sought the steady voices of trees and found only eerie silence. Usually the trees talk to us; fir branches whisper, alders chatter, and spruce hums through the earth. “Time to talk to the Fairies,” we thought but each gateway we approached was blocked or closed. Have you ever come home, expecting to find your family, and discovered your voice echoing through empty rooms? It felt a little like that.

The next few days were dismal. No Fairies appeared when we dug in the garden between rain showers, no voices whispered inspiration to my fingers on the keyboard and, worst of all, no bell-like songs graced our Spring Equinox rituals. The chocolate we left for them went untouched. What is usually a celebration of  balance between light and dark, revelry with the spirits of nature to honor the wondrous explosion of new life, was instead a time of disconnection and confusion. We felt distant whispers of Faerie lingering deep in the trees but direct communication channels were firmly closed.

The mystery consumed me. After two more days of approaching locked gateways, I parked myself at the Fairy Circle, druid bell in hand, and waited. I coaxed Fairy sounds from the bell, sang songs I knew they liked and listened. And waited. And waited some more. Soft and fragrant as a rose petal, something brushed my cheek and I opened my inner ear as wide as I could. “Meet us at the inner gateway tomorrow” a tiny voice sighed.

“Tomorrow” was, of course, a rain day. I slogged to the appointed place in rubber boots and slicker to find the path miraculously cleared. I performed the short ritual, spoke the secret words and stepped through the gateway. It was like walking into a beehive; Fairy voices hummed all around me, settled in my hair, on my shoulders. “I missed you on the Equinox, my friends,” I ventured cautiously, hoping the casual statement would begin the discussion. (Asking direct questions like “Where the hell have you been?!” is about as effective as trying to pull a blackberry vine out with your bare hands.)

It worked. “We went away!” “Visited Summer!” “Helped others!” sang small voices, tumbling over each other like stones in a spring flowing stream. Through the bedlam, I managed to piece together the story. I knew that, after our inundation from snow, much of the rest of the US had been caught in days of record-setting heat but I hadn’t been mindful of what that meant for the Fairies. It seems that trees and other plants in the unusually hot areas had begun budding and blooming before their time and the local Nature Spirits were unable to cope. Like our power company had done to help fix all the downed wires, the Fairies called for additional crews and our clan responded.

Fairy Elder Light That Listens

Once the stories of the buzzing young ones subsided, Light That Listens, an Elder of our Fairy clan, honored me with her presence. “We need to talk,” she said. Images of broken trees on our land flashed like a slide show in my mind with pictures of flooded towns, houses ripped apart by tornadoes, shriveled crops baking in fields. She pointed just above my head where leaves tiny as mouse ears burst from an Alder branch. “Not all of the Earth Mother’s children will survive in the changes ahead,” she said sadly. “We will do what we can to help. What we don’t know is whether your species will find a way to endure. We worry.” Her image faded into the mist of the rain, her voice into the wind.

Water dripped from the hood of my jacket, off the tip of my nose, and from the mouse-ear leaves above me. The Fairies were gone, the space around me filled with normal forest-in-the-rain sounds.  I stepped back through the gateway, closed it behind me, and pointed my soggy self towards the warmth of home, pausing every few steps to marvel at new growth and opening buds.

I know Light That Listens will call me again, that the talks will continue, but the lesson from this meeting has been planted. It’s not the Fairies who were confused – it’s all of Nature. The changes in climate that were predicted are no longer in the future – they’re here. Those of us who have tried to live in harmony with the Earth will now have to learn to live in harmony with the changes as well, even as we continue the struggle to stop the cause. The Fairies have always been our allies – can we finally become theirs? The Earth Mother needs us all to weather the coming storms.

–Bridget Wolfe
Text and images © Fairy Woodland 2012

Groundhogs, Fires and Hints of Spring

January 31, 2012

Imbolc – February 1, 2012

The storms of winter have receded for the moment after inundating us with snow and buckets of rain so I can wander the woods with my deer friends, put my hands on the ground and feel it. In the veins of the trees and the belly of the earth, there is a tiny, slight stirring. There’s a wee bit more light today than there was yesterday. It appears Grandfather Sun is firmly on the track that will bring his blazing glory back to us in the frozen north.

That’s the theory, at least. This year, with high temperatures and low snowfall across much of the Northern US, one might wonder if Nature is confused and whether we humans in the future will need to adjust our festivals to changing cycles. For this year, we’ll stay with the traditional patterns, which means it’s time to welcome the fire festival of Imbolc.

Imbolc (pronounced “im’olk,”  “IM-bulk,” “EM-bowlk” or “IM-mol’g), comes from a word meaning some version of “milk in the belly.” The ewes’ milk is coming in as they get ready to bring new lambs into the world. Traditionally, snow and cold still reign but renewal slumbers just under the surface as new growth prepares to burst forth into the exuberance of Spring.

Wait! Is that bud on the apple tree plumping out just a little? There! In that spot in the garden where the sun has melted most of the snow, is that a tiny hint of green? Will the first warm breeze come soon? To answer that age-old question, the Maiden Goddess Brighid calls her snake to rise from its earthen mound to test the weather and divine how much Winter is still in the air. [Yes, Groundhog Day has a Pagan origin.]

In Faerie, Imbolc, this mid-point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox is an alarm clock. The Fairies have been dreaming through the Winter, nurturing seeds, flying on the root roads with their friends the trees. Some have burrowed into the hollows of trees or into dens with snakes or bears to dream through the weeks of dark and cold. Now, it’s time to return from their slumbers and get ready for the eruption of newness that will soon come.

Light the Fires to Celebrate the Waxing Light

There are many ways to participate in the festivities of Imbolc. Clean the house, clean the hearth, light the fires anew. Sweep away the old from every corner of your life so that you can meet Spring with a clean slate. Set a lighted candle in each window of your home and keep it burning until dawn to light your way into the future. Open the windows, even if only for a few chilly moments, to allow the promise of the new season to touch your senses and seep into your heart. If the snake, hedgehog, badger, groundhog – choose your favorite weather prognosticator – sees its shadow and dives back into its hole for another 6 weeks of winter, don’t worry – you’ve opened yourself to the verdant thread of Spring and, no matter the distance between now and then, one day soon a robin will land on your doorstep carrying sun and warm breezes on its back.

–Bridget Wolfe

Winter Solstice – Celebrating the Dark

December 20, 2011

Image “It gets dark much too early,” my mother complained as I drove her home after her Sunday-afternoon-dinner visit.

“It will start getting better on Wednesday,” I assured her. “Wednesday is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. After that, we have a few more minutes of light every day.”

“Oh, good,” she sighed. “I don’t like the dark very much.”  She’s 87. Can’t say I blame her wanting to live in daylight.

Her comment made me think, though, about the dark. At this time of the year we adorn our homes with light of many colors; our offices, shops, and Main Streets are all aglow. Surrounding us in every public place are bells, and carolers. From mall to elevator to radio, familiar songs about angels, stars, and reindeer wrap themselves around us like old friends – or, for some of us, like cranky uncles we’d rather forget.

Wreaths, evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, hot spiced cider, eggnog, gingerbread, dance across our senses, making the very air around us vibrant. Gifts to buy, cards to send, decorating and baking to do . . . we rush through the short days and into the long nights, caught between the exuberance of the season and feeling like rats trapped in a maze of to-do lists. This is our modern day culture’s set of rituals to fend off the dark.

Our ancestors, as far back as we have records or myths, have always engaged in ritual at this time of greatest darkness. From the Mesopotamian festival to help the god Marduk (a sun god) tame the monsters of chaos (who, of course are strongest in the dark) to Nordic and Celtic traditions which form the bases for most of our rituals today, humans faced with lengthening darkness have always sought ways to bring back the light.

Why do we have such fear of the dark that we need to design elaborate rituals to combat it? What is there about the dark that is so unsettling to the human psyche? And why, at this time of year, are regular light bulbs not enough? Those questions rumbled through my mind this afternoon as I wandered our land asking the spirits of the forest where they wanted us to hold our Winter Solstice ritual. I walked in sunshine – the constant winter rains for which the Northwest Coast is famous have paid only a brief visit so far this year. No damp forest duff, no snowy silence, just the familiar crackle of autumn leaves under my feet. The paths, usually bright with new moss by this time, were still bare and brown so I could see hoof prints where the deer had passed on their way to the meadow.

The swing called me. A bench swing hanging from a Douglas Fir at the edge of the grove where chanterelles pop up their golden heads in autumn, it overlooks the estuary where geese, ducks, loons, and sometimes a Great Blue Heron or two like to fish. The wind sprites like to visit there and voices of the Nature Sprits we call Fairies are strong. So I sat, let the afternoon breeze clear the overloaded synapses in my mind, watched the water, listened to the trees, and followed my breath to silence. As the sun sank below the horizon and the gray “between time” crept across the sky, glimmers of understanding popped out with the first stars.

We mortals believe our lives are lived in light, that what we see is real. In the dark, when our eyes can’t be our guides, our imaginations populate surrounding space with monsters and demons drawn from our fears. What’s that crackling in the underbrush? What’s the thump outside my door? If I sit quietly and wait, will it eat me? At what point in our lives did our relationship with the unknown – the dark – become one of fear rather than anticipation? When did we turn our creativity to imagining monsters in the dark, rather than Angels – or Fairies?

Do you remember a time when the dark was a place of magic? Where your imagination greeted the rustling in the bushes with the hope of seeing the King Stag or a unicorn? When the thump outside your door could be Santa’s bag as he lifted it from his sleigh? Perhaps you are one who remembers your own light sufficiently to know that there is no difference between what exists around you in darkness or daylight. Perhaps you know that what you see in daylight is also with you in the night and that the unseen worlds that manifest in the darkness surround you in the sunlight as well. Perhaps you are one who strides into the unknown dark of the future with relish, rather than looking over your shoulder to the past you can see. The conditioning you’ve received in our modern world tells you that what your eyes see is real, that what they don’t, is not. Does your heart remember what it knew before your mind told it not to believe in fairy tales?

This year, on the longest night, return to what your heart knows and celebrate the dark. Extinguish the lights, even the hearth fire, and sit for a moment in the stillness and solitude of dark. Smell the forest duff or the musty carpet. Taste pungent pine needles or the lingering residue of supper hanging in the air. Listen to a mouse scuttling through leaves or your refrigerator motor kicking in. Feel your breath as it winds its way into your nostrils, to your lungs, and back out again. Feel your heart beating. Do it all with your eyes open because, when we close our eyes, we’re not really in the dark, we’re just turned inward and disconnected.

As you sit in the dark with your senses tuned to the space around you, find your home in the dark. Claim your ability to be awake in the darkness and to discern through your senses what occupies the space beyond your eyes. Rescue the dark from the monsters with which you have populated it. If you allow yourself this courageous process, you’ll find that the only light you really need is already inside. Then sing to the dark, to the magic it holds. Only then are you ready to reach out to the sun, to let him know that there’s room for him in your heart, that it’s safe for him to return.

The peace and joy that comes with befriending the dark and finding your own light is the gift of this season. Light candles, rekindle the hearth fire, turn the twinkling holiday lights back on; join hands with friends, sing, eat, drink, and be merry, knowing that your celebration comes not from fear of the dark but from honoring its place in the cycle of life.

As Earth holds her breath in the dark silence of Winter
reach for the light that glows in your heart
and sing softly to all you love.

 –Bridget Wolfe
©2011

 

 

Diving Into the Moon

December 9, 2011

While trying to decide whether to crawl out of a warm bed tomorrow morning to watch the total lunar eclipse at 4:45 am (West Coast time – UGH!) I started thinking about what it means when the reflected light of the moon is eclipsed. Does that mean we then see reality? The story I wrote for this Fairy House Gateway created by John Curtis Crawford came to mind. What do you think?

Diving Into the Moon

See more photos at Fairy Woodland

DIVING INTO THE MOON

A barely visible shimmer climbs the ancient stone steps, stopping at the edge of the platform. The crystal dais waits, suspended at the power center of the Temple of the Moon. Moonrise is still a few breaths away so the enchanted surface slumbers, waiting for the silver rays that will awaken it. Selene raises a hand to the sky, signaling to the many watching eyes that it’s almost time to begin.

Ethereal shapes like clouds, delicate as moonbeams, separate themselves from the wood, forming into more solid beings as they drift to the ground outside the Temple. Children of the light, these spirits live in the space between time, in the Otherworld of the Otherworld, eternal guardians of the Temple whose structure they dreamed and now inhabit. Once they were Tree Spirits, traveling from roots to sky, leaving reflections of their faces in branch and twig like a human fingerprint. Their physical forms rooted to one place on the Earth, their adventurous spirits longed to roam the planet with the winds that visited the highest branches. They experimented with ways to allow their ethereal bodies to wander while their supple but more solid forms stayed with their beloved trees.

On a silver night in mid-summer, one of their kind followed by chance a loop of twig that leaned far over an enchanted pool and saw a glowing disc reflected in the water. The image went deep, beyond the bottom, flowing from silver to deep indigo. The Tree Spirit, mesmerized, dove straight into the center of the moon.

Oh, Joy! What delight! She found herself swimming in a silver pool with rays reaching out like trails to any time/space that had ever mirrored the reflected light of the moon. A lonely memory flooded through her – a vague sense of having been here before. The eyes of night-loving creatures blinked at her, wisps of dreams floated by, landscapes beckoned her. She reached for a glowing mountaintop and landed on a ledge amidst lichen, ferns, and a small fir tree growing out of the rock. She had found the key to spirit travel.

She wanted to go home and share this knowledge with others and the knowledge swirling in the pool told her how. She looked into the orb in the sky, dove up, and found herself flying out of the moon’s reflection in a pool under a loop of twig in her favorite tree.

That was the beginning. Not many Tree Spirits had pools of water with overhanging twigs so they would need to design a way to duplicate the effect. It took many moons to create the Temple that would hold the pool they needed. All the Tree Spirits gathered to fashion a structure in which they could experiment and explore this new-found knowledge. They each imprinted a twig with their image and drew the wood together into a frame. Then they called on the stone clan to form the walls and provide the crystal they would need to amplify the light. When it was finished, each Tree Spirit settled into its twig and the work of exploring the magic they had discovered began.

The memory of the Temple’s creation is reflected in every twig, stone, and grain of sand so tonight, as always, it envelops Selene as she stands at the edge of the great crystal floor. She can feel the energy of the moon gathering; it’s time. She hums the first tone of the welcoming chant, inviting the others to enter the Temple and take their places. The voices of the gathered spirits join Selene’s as they glide through every entrance, a procession to invite moonbeams to follow. They flow up the stairs to perch on every available stone and twig.

The first rays of the full moon and Selene, tonight’s mistress of ceremonies, reach the center of the crystal at the same moment. Using body and voice, Selene deftly sends the silver light reflecting into the deep pool at the base of the Temple. Song weaves with moon beams and the swirling pool below becomes a glowing, silver disc whose reflection has no bottom. The gateway is open. One by one the hovering spirits dive to the center of the moon, burst through the barrier of time-space and travel to whatever image calls to their hearts this night.

Selene will not travel tonight. It’s her turn to hold the gateway open with the song the moon taught her that first night she dove from a twig into infinity. She has taught the song to others and, at the next full moon, it will be someone else’s turn to hold the energy and she will go exploring again. For tonight, she will joyously offer her voice to the silver orb that called her so long ago to teach her about the magic that’s possible when you dive into the reflection.

© Bridget Wolfe, Fairy Woodland, 2010

Thanksgiving – The Fairies’ Rufous Song

November 22, 2011

Each year when we approach the human holiday of Thanksgiving, we have a chat with our nature spirit friends about the concept. The first time we did this, they were confused. A special day to be thankful? Why not be thankful all the time, every day? After our explanation that most mortals, unfortunately, do not operate that way, the Fairies examined their own practices and acknowledged that sometimes there are things they are especially thankful for and we agreed that each year at this time they would share one of those things with us. Here’s their contribution for this year.

The Rufous Song

The song is named for the Rufous Hummingbirds whose brilliant orange plumage enchants the Fairy Woodland woods all summer long against a backdrop of more shades of green than you can imagine. After the birds leave to fly to more sun-drenched habitats for the winter, the plant world begins to take on the rufous color and, as it does, a symphony takes form in Faerie. The maple trees start the song, of course, leaves exploding with their natural color as the nights get longer and colder and the chlorophyll factory slows down.  From deep in the woods the sumac and elderberry voices join in.

The colors of Autumn release music everywhere you look. The low thrumming of pumpkins and carrots sketch out a baseline and the sweet tones of quince float through the gathering symphony, cloaked within more dominant notes just as their brilliant red is hidden within them until coaxed out by slow cooking. Amanita muscaria, in all its crimson glory, pokes its way up through the forest duff and becomes a convenient perch, not for a hookah smoking caterpillar like in Alice in Wonderland but for a six inch banana slug who hums along with the mushroom. Soon all the colors of the forest are drawn into the song. The yellows of the alder leaves, the ever-greens of the firs, the silver-leaved poplars, all weave their distinctive notes into the symphony of autumn, the Rufous Song.

Exuberance and joy are usually associated with the birth and new beginnings of Spring but, thanks to the Rufous Song, fly on the winds of Autumn as well, to fill our hearts in the darkening days. All of nature sings a final rousing chorus of gratitude to the retreating sun and gifts our eyes (and ears, if we learn to listen) with the memory of the colors of fire to hold us through the cold, dark nights to come. The Fairies are thankful for the gift of color the Earth Mother provides at this season, for the song the colors bring to our hearts. They hope that, as you cook and eat pumpkin, cranberries, and winter squash, that you will remember the Rufous Song and let it warm your heart.

We at Fairy Woodland are thankful for all of you, who continue to walk with the Fairies and keep them alive in your hearts and your imagination.

Bright Blessings.

–Bridget Wolfe

Samhain – Halloween. The Beginning is in the Ending.

October 30, 2011


As I piloted the long-handled fruit picker high into the tree to reach the last of the apples, I found myself contemplating the end of the harvest season. The last tomatoes have been turned into sauce and sit in clear, shiny jars on the pantry shelves; the ones that didn’t get red before the first sign of frost will become green tomato pickles tomorrow. The rains are finally luring mushrooms from the ground and, now, the last apples have been rescued from the winds that would toss them on the ground for the deer. (Don’t worry, we share. The deer have gotten plenty, rising up on hind legs to pick them from low-hanging branches.)

Samhain (what most people celebrate as Halloween) is almost upon us. I slice open a sweet, crisp apple to find a seed and remind myself of what is, for me, the most profound teaching of this holiday: The beginning is always inherent in the end; the end, in the beginning. So flows the circle of life, the wheel of the year.  When we dress up in costumes at Halloween and take our children out to “trick or treat,” we are participating in a small remnant of a much older tradition that honors the point in the circle where ending meets beginning.

Samhain  [pronounced SOW-in (Ireland), SOW-een (Wales) or SAV-en (Scotland)]  is the traditional place in the old ways where the end of the circle meets the beginning, creating a brief “break” or passageway.  This is often referred to as a thinning or lifting of the veil between the worlds, allowing those of the Otherworld to wander freely in our realm and allowing mortals to travel through the veil to visit and ask for visions and advice about the future.

The word Samhain means “summer’s end” and is the last of the three harvest festivals. In the Pagan calendar as well as the Faerie calendar from which it is drawn, it is also the beginning of the New Year. October 31 is the end of the old year, November 2 is the beginning of the New Year, and Nov 1 is the space between that belongs to no time. In this space of transition, where the circle meets itself and leaps to the next coil on the spiral, the veil between the worlds thins, allowing the best opportunity of the year for conversation between mortals and those on the other side of the veil.

There’s a reason that skeletons and ghosts traditionally adorn our yards and windows at this time – they are emblematic of the dead and it is time for the old year to die. 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. The beginning is in the ending.

The dynamic tension created by this transition is what allows the thinning of the veil between the realms and makes this a perfect time for all of us to open our hearts and minds to the inhabitants of the Otherworld. Whether those we wish to contact are loved ones who have left their mortal bodies and crossed over or denizens of Faerie who we have met in dream spaces and taken into our hearts, Samhain is a perfect time to honor them and to be open to contact. Build a fire or light a candle, focus on the dancing flame and let it take you into a meditation that opens the veil. Take out your runes or tarot cards and ask the spirits from the Otherworld to speak through them. Take a plate of food to the cemetery to share the bounty of your harvest and honor the spirits.

Fire is an important part of this turning of the year because it burns out the old to allow for the growth of the new. If you can safely make a fire or even light a candle, write on slips of paper the items that are the “dead sheaves” in your life, the things that are still standing in your fields but serve no more useful purpose. Then burn them and return the ashes to the soil, enriching it with the transformed energy for the seeds you will plant in the spring.

Whether you choose to mark this turning of the year in costume at a Halloween party or in deep meditation and ceremony, remember that the fruits of the harvest contain the seeds of the new year.  For those of us whose hearts walk the paths of the Otherworld with the Fairies, we are the seeds of Faerie in the mortal realm. The beginning is in the ending.

— Bridget Wolfe

©Bridget Wolfe, 2011

Point of Balance – Autumnal Equinox

September 22, 2011

A puff of wind and flutters of pale yellow leaves drift from the alder trees outside my window. My favorite maple has begun dressing herself in crimson hues, the gorgeous raiment still hanging on tightly, determined to show off until the winter storms begin.  A few late blackberries offer their plump bodies as I walk by and I give thanks to the vines and pop the gift into my mouth. They still taste like summer, although not quite as sweet as their sun-drenched August predecessors, now resting in jam jars and in bags in the freezer.

The Autumnal Equinox has arrived, one of the two times of the year in the Sun’s journey, where there are equal times of day and night. The Equinox is an in-between time, a point of balance, of standing on the center of the teeter-totter board. On one side are the exultant, warm, long-light days of the Summer Solstice; on the other, the quiet, meditative, cold, darkest days of the Winter Solstice. Behind us, external light, exuberant growth, bursting out all over; ahead of us, external darkness, contemplation, dreaming, going within to find the needed light.

As we stand in this point of balance, it’s time to slow down and gather around us the fruits of our harvest to enjoy with friends, family, and clan. Summer has been a time of movement and activity, a time of doing and going. Winter will be slower and call us inward. Autumn is the time to move from one to the other, taking the time to be in gratitude for what the light of summer has given and prepare ourselves for the impending dark and the dreaming to come.

There have always been festivals and celebrations at the turning points on the Wheel of the Year because those turnings are reflections of the Earth’s cycles and we are a part of the planet. We humans have moved far from being in synch with those cycles; we light the Winter and cool the Summer, we grow summer fruits in hot houses in January and warm pools of water to frolic in the cold. Our ingenuity allows us to blur the distinctions between the seasons but also obscures the blessings that each turning point brings and sends us drifting ever further from harmony with the changes of our planet home.

The Fairies, being spirits of nature and Children of the Earth, are always tuned to the Earth’s cycles. For them, this point of balance brings a moment to pause and give thanks for the harvest, to honor the plant world that has taken the gift of light and turned it into fruits to sustain life through the winter. The harvest will continue – there are still apples to pick, and nuts to gather. The last of the tomatoes and corn still hurry to soak up the remaining sun and ripen. But the change of the season has come. After today, there will be more hours of darkness than light so the Children of the Earth pause and dance in the moment of balance.

What are you harvesting in this season? What fruits that you planted in the spring and summer are still on the vine, waiting for you to gather them in? Can you feel the change in the air, the shift of the light? Do you sense your own place of balance? As the sun hovers directly over the equator, balancing light and dark in the world, pause for a moment, as though you’re standing in the center of a teeter totter, right above the fulcrum point, and feel how with a breath the board can move one direction or another. Can you find the point of balance between your inside and outside world? How do you balance your internal needs with your external commitments? How much quiet time do you allow yourself and how much of your life is filled with activity? How well do you accept the gifts of the harvest and how do you share your bounty?

The Autumnal Equinox is an ideal moment to find and contemplate how balance serves you in your life. When the Earth is in balance, your body, which was made from her, can find its balance as well. Any of the turning points of the year are a perfect time to reconnect with the Earth Mother and with her Fairy children, the Spirits of Nature. Find the balance between the love of nature in your heart and the actions that support the health of the Earth.

May you have a blessed harvest season.

–Bridget Wolfe

There’s a Fairy Woodland Fairy House called “Point of Balance.”

  See more photos and read the story.

Lughnasadh – Harvest Beginnings

July 28, 2011

Harvest bounty

LUGHNASADH – the beginning of the harvest season

Lughnasadh, traditionally celebrated on August 1, is the time to begin harvesting the fruits of the seeds – and dreams – planted in the spring. This midpoint between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox is when the first grains are ready for harvest and the bounty offered by Mother Earth is ready to be processed and stored for the winter to come. From harvesting and drying grains to making jam and canning beans and tomatoes, the season of gathering in has begun.

For agrarian societies, carefully harvesting and preserving nature’s bounty was the key to survival through the long Winter as well as making sure there were seeds to plant for next spring.. In our “modern” day culture, we tend to forget about these seasonal imperatives. After all, if we want fresh strawberries in January, we just go to the supermarket. The Realm of Faerie, however, is still tuned to the Wheel of the Year and those of us who pay homage to the Spirits of Nature make our small efforts to attune ourselves to that cycle as well.

The harvest season, which begins with Lughnasadh, is a time of “gathering in,” of personal reflection on what we have “grown” in our lives. What did you plant last spring? What projects have you started this year? What friendships have you made? What ideas have you sent out into the world? This is a time to pause and look around you, to see which of the seeds you’ve planted have taken root, grown, and borne fruit. Look closely, even in what seems like a weed patch, and see if there’s something growing in there that you might harvest. Dandelion leaves, after all, are nutritious and delicious, as long as they haven’t been sprayed with herbicides, and you might consider gathering a few of their seed puffs to offer the Fairies for a treat in mid-Winter. (The Fairies weave blankets and clothing from the fibers and use the seed puffs for pillows as well.)

In the warmth of the late-July sun, when tomatoes are barely starting to blush and the blackberries are still hard, tiny, and green, it’s hard to rouse oneself from the joyous leisure of summer but the Fairies, while teaching us how to be in the moment, never forget to keep their eyes on what lies ahead. There were twice as many zucchini in the garden this morning as there were three days ago; it’s as though everything is rushing to get in the final spurt of growth. Even the plants know that the season is getting ready to change, that it’s time to produce the fruit that carries the food for the winter and the seeds to begin the cycle again next spring.

Take a few moments on this Lughnasadh to look around and inside you and see what your life-garden has grown this year. What new projects or ideas have sprouted in your life? Are there new friends who are “feeding” you, who will be with you through the winter to come? Now is the time to make sure you “harvest” those gifts, the time to preserve them.; and it’s the time to offer thanks to the Earth Mother and her Fairy helpers for all the glorious gifts the Season of the Sun has brought.

For more information about the history of Lughnasadh and ritual ideas for celebrations, try these websites:

http://www.chalicecentre.net/lughnasadh.htm
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=3558
http://www.llewellyn.com/encyclopedia/article/7828
http://www.druidry.org/obod/festivals/lughnasadh.html

Bright Blessings!

–Bridget Wolfe

Oestre: Why the Easter Bunny Lays Eggs

April 20, 2011


Oestre
or

Why the Easter Bunny Lays Eggs

Do you remember, as a child, peering under bushes hunting for brightly colored Easter eggs? Did you ever wonder why the eggs were delivered by a bunny? The association of the rabbit and the eggs with the coming of spring goes back to folk traditions from around the world but especially northern Europe.

The name “Easter” comes from the name of a Tutonic or Saxon goddess named Oestre (also Eastre or Ostara). She is a fertility goddess, the goddess of dawn and spring, heralding the birth of animals and the budding and blooming of plants. After the long sleep of winter, the earth has been reborn and life restored and all of nature celebrates.

Why eggs and bunnies?

Eggs are a potent symbol of fertility, the “seed” that will grow though the coming warm months to feed the people. The egg represents the rebirth of nature, of the cycle of life; that which has incubated through the winter now bursts forth with exuberance in spring. Many cultures have traditions of coloring eggs and giving them as gifts in celebration of this rebirth. Anyone who lives in northern climates knows the joy that fills our hearts when the trees sprout buds and the first robins appear. Definitely cause for celebration!

Rabbits are, of course, also fertility symbols. They are known for wild antics during mating season and for reproducing rapidly and often! For many earth-based traditions, the Hare was sacred and associated with different goddesses, especially the ones connected to the moon and the hunt. The rabbit was definitely sacred to the Goddess Oestre and she was often accompanied by a white hare.

The origin of an egg laying bunny lies in a story about Oestre that has a few variations which, according to the Fairies at Woodland Springs (home of Fairy Woodland) have omitted a few details. Since I’ve made it a point to trust their telling of a tale, I’ve incorporated their edits into the story that follows.

Oestre and Her Bunny

Legend has it that many years ago, a young girl was gathering wood for her family’s fireplace. Spring was very late in arriving and snow was still on the ground. As she ventured further into the forest, she heard a slight rustling under some dead leaves. Being a very curious child, she investigated more thoroughly and found a little, half frozen bird.

The girl loved all nature, especially birds for the lovely songs they sang in the warmer months, and this was the most beautiful bird she had ever seen. Its feathers were all the colors of the rainbow and shimmered so brightly it took her breath away. She wanted to do everything she could to help this magnificent little bird that was freezing to death. She took off her shawl and wrapped the little bird up inside to get warm and she melted snow in her hand to give the little bird a drink.  Even with all the love and care the little girl gave the bird, things didn’t look good. The snow, freezing temperatures, and lack of food had taken the little bird’s strength and it remained barely alive.

The girl cried with deep sobs from her heart. She wanted the bird to live but didn’t know what to do. The Goddess Oestre, who was known for her love of children, heard the little girl’s grief and came to her. When the girl saw Oestre approaching, she quickly ran over to the Goddess with the bird in her hands. Oestre took the bird gently from the child and was touched by its beauty. She knew that this bird should still be in its winter home in the south but for some reason had returned early, before winter had fully left the land. She was also feeling a little guilty for the bird’s condition – she had had a difficult time finding her way from the underworld this year and knew that her late arrival had jeopardized this little creature’s life. She was here now but it would take the plants a while to wake up and the weather some time to warm. If she saved the bird today, it would surely freeze to death the next day, or starve before there was enough food to sustain it.

The only way to save the bird was to change it into something that could survive the cold and find food. So, Oestre changed the bird into her favorite animal, a rabbit. At first, the little bird, now a rabbit, was confused because it couldn’t fly or sing. But it slowly discovered that the new soft fur kept it feeling very warm in the snow. It was grateful to have its life, even if it was in a new form.

A short time later, when the snow was melting and the world was beginning to wake from its winter slumber, the rabbit once again crossed paths with the girl and wanted to give a gift to the child for saving its life. It called the goddess and asked her, humbly, for another boon. Since it no longer had brightly colored feathers to enchant the girls eyes and since it could no longer delight the girl with its songs, it wanted to find another way to bring beauty to the little girl. The goddess had let the rabbit remain a bird on the inside, so it could still lay eggs; now it asked for the ability to make those eggs the colors of the feathers it used to have.

Since the rabbit was asking for a gift not for itself but for someone else, Oestre granted the rabbit’s wish. It produced brightly colored eggs that delighted the little girl and the goddess and the rest of the village as well. Oestre was so pleased with the rabbit’s gift that she bestowed the ability to lay colored eggs on all of this special rabbit’s offspring. Such a magical creature, of course, can’t live in the mortal world so she negotiated to allow the rabbit and its children to live in the Faerie Realm. Each year, when Oestre returns from the underworld, the Fairies open the gateway to the mortal world so that Oestre’s bunny can come and delight her with the gift of magically colored eggs and its offspring can do the same for the rest of us.

When we color eggs and give them to each other as gifts, we’re honoring the magic of Oestre, the goddess of Spring, and the promise of new life that she brings.

–©Bridget Wolfe, Fairy Woodland

For more myths around the Easter Bunny and the Goddess, see http://www.goddessgift.com/Pandora%27s_Box/Easter-history.htm

Winter Solstice 2010 – Cernunnos

December 19, 2010

Winter Solstice Gateway

This year the Winter Solstice approaches not with Fairies riding downy flakes to perch on fir trees and holly bushes. This year the turning of the year comes creeping through fog, wrapping trees, deer, and time itself in a muffled blanket. The silence is so dense I can’t hear my footsteps and I understand what it is like to be lost in the universe.

I walk through the alien, gray landscape searching for the place I have in mind for building the Yule fire tonight. I want to lay the stones for the fire ring and get the wood in place while there is still daylight but in this fog, the path I seek eludes me. A holly bush peeks pointed leaves towards me, crimson berries offering a moment of colored relief, and I pause to pay homage to the Holly King whose reign is about to end.

Perhaps it’s my momentary honoring of the Holly King’s presence. Maybe, by stopping to acknowledge the cycles of life, I’ve brought myself in harmony with the shifting energies around me and found my way into the Wildwood. In any case, the fog thins for a moment and the pathway is clear before me. The clearing I seek is just ahead. As I approach, I feel a presence and take my eyes off the path.

He stands in the swirling mists, an ethereal vision, antlers reaching for the sky as his ears turn toward me and his muscles tense, ready to flee. I know this stag and he knows me, so I greet him, my voice soft as the fog, hoping he will recognize me and know there is no danger. I named him “Cedar” a few years ago because he rubs the moss off his new antlers in the summer on a cedar tree. Although he has come many times to eat grain from the bowls I put out for his clan, today, as he stands proudly in the mist, he is not “Cedar.” I have come face to face with Cernunnos, Lord of the Wildwood and Guardian of the portal to the Otherworld.

Cernunnos is the great symbol of life feeding life. As the stag, he is the hunted; as Lord of the Forest, he leads the hunt. He is born at the Winter Solstice, appears in Spring as the budding young son of the Goddess, then becomes her consort in the warmth of summer, as life explodes everywhere around them. He gives his vibrant life to the Earth and leads the Autumnal journey to the Underworld and returns to the Earth from which he was born. Seeds of light released from his decaying body quicken Earth Mother’s womb with a new Sun once again and he is reborn at the Winter Solstice. As the sun stands still at its furthest point from us in the Northern Hemisphere and begins its return, Cernunnos emerges from his travels underground, signaling the continuation of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

I am honored with his presence for only a moment; he mists thicken and obscure my view and when I can see again, the stag has melted into the forest. This has been a foreshadowing – the seeds that will sprout into new life still slumber deep in the ground and it will be months before their green hearts emerge into the light. But the stag’s spirit now wanders the woods again and I know, because I trust the cycles of nature, that where the stag’s hoofs walk, the green will return.

Whether we mythologize this turning of the Wheel as the emergence of Cernunnos from the Underworld, the victory of the Oak King over the Holly King, or the birth of a Savior, the message is the same. We are buried in the depths of darkness and our spirits yearn for the spark of light. We have been pulled inward as far as we can go and, although quiet contemplation is still called for through the storms of January, we now have hope. The light will return, seeds will emerge from the ground, trees will sprout new leaves, and a new stag will be born.

None of that is here yet. On this shortest day, longest night of the year, we have only a foreshadowing, like the stag materializing from the mists – and the warm life inside us – to cling to. But it is enough, as it has been since humans first wandered from their warm, equatorial eden to the fluctuating climates of the North. So we share the warmth of a smile, adorn our homes with light, reach into our stored harvest to create a feast. Most important of all, we reach for each other. For mere mortals, survival in the dark and the cold is impossible alone. The stag may be a solitary wanderer through the woods but as I follow the path home, I find the rest of the herd gathered in the meadow, busily grazing – together.

Bright Blessings to you and yours. And keep it lit.

–Bridget Wolfe

The Winter Solstice this year coincides with a full moon AND a lunar eclipse, visible everywhere in North America (assuming the sky is clear). Eclipse begins at 1:33 EST (10:33 PST), Dec. 21, 2010.

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