On a winter night


The winter snows have finally arrived after a few brief flirtations, that which we have waited for and dreaded has arrived.

In the grove of dying pine behind our home I welcomed the gods of winter as familiar friends.  The sleet and freezing rain, the snow and the wind.  I bared myself to the elements as best I could in that place, feeling the slumbering spirits around me stir and others awaken with fresh intensity.  My hands were near to freezing as I listened to the story of my blood weakly circulating through my fingertips.  My head, released from it’s warm covering of wool felt slapped to numbness.  I felt the embrace of winter as the dark gathered in the forest around me, the distant sense of the cars going by on the thoroughfare, their passing muffled by snowfall on the pavement and in the air.  The sense that I was in a place out of time was palpable, remains palpable.  The stirring of the air could be warm or cold, it makes little difference in this context.  The spirits of this place are alive and in me, through me, around me and I reach for them with senses that too often go unused.  Winter’s teeth are barely weathered yet and ready to take my blood and heat.

I felt the heat on my skin, lingering as spirits

they fled me, slowed only by my Armour

I wandered on through the dying pine boughs,

Reaching like thirsty children to drink me

So I fell there

a freezing bite was taken from my scalp

my hands burned

my breath like smoke

I lifted up,

the tree tops

no longer my ladder

I flew over the frozen earth

On wings of fire

Creating the thermals

Melting snow to water

It ran like streams

Streams to rivers

Rivers to the sea

Sea up to clouds

clouds like good mead

and I was drunk upon it

so burned my fire,

My wings aflame like sacred bonfires

And my ancestors howled through the wind.

When I think about the story of the land where my feet touch the Earth I must also consider my own part in that story.  Not simply the last few weeks or days but the last few years and decades.  Our existence here is so impermanent that our limited senses can only tell us so much.  It does not seem enough to me that I simply observe, I am that agent of relationship and balance.  I am the words that the land uses to express itself as Awen moves through me.  I am knee deep in the earth of spring, talking with the voices of Earth worms and grubs.  I can look up at the roots of the plants and trees as they grow in over my head.  My toes wriggle for underground water while my hands spread out beneath the sky.

I descend into the bog and feel the cold moisture trapped there close in around me, embracing me, holding me as I remember what it was like to be there as the skunk or the raccoon or the deer, digging through the plants for something to eat and watching the stars like forgotten gods.

Winter rolls in like a giant and I think of my ancestors around sacred fires.  Each of them a flame, each flame a feather and each a feather upon a great bird of fire.

We are soaring together upon the winds.  Southward we fly, over waters and mountains.  When we land I will burst into flame and become an ancestor, become the many, another feather upon the wings of my descendants and again we will fly.

Winter holds no cold for me now and I sink into the darkness even as the brilliant flame of the sun awakens.

~Alban Artur

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