A Warm Yule and Winter

A Warm Yule and Winter


by Barbara Hedgewitch

As we approach the shortest days of the year, our house is a snug haven from the cold rain and winds of autumn. The horses’ coats are thick and full in preparation for the cold days ahead. We watch the steady retreat of the Sun. Each day, it sets just a bit earlier and farther south over the distant hill.

We spend time preparing gifts for our loved ones: homemade soap in a variety of scents and colors brightly wrapped in baskets; felt “melted” snowmen from a pattern at the craft store. We bake and decorate holiday cookies and get messy making gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and lots of frosting. I gather fir boughs and wire them to a frame, then attach a bright plaid bow. Soon a sweetly scented wreath hangs cheerily on the front door.

My husband makes his annual trek up our tall ladder, standing precariously as he strings holiday lights all along the roofline. One year, he fell off the roof as he strung lights. Fortunately for him, a potted rosebush broke his fall. It wasn’t quite so fortunate for the rosebush or its pot. This year, I remember to send a little extra protective energy his way as he heads up with hands full of lights.

He takes the children down to the bottom of our property where the former owners planted a grove of evergreen trees. They choose a fine Douglas fir for our Yule tree and triumphantly drag it up the hill to the house. As they huff and puff from the strain, the curious horses follow them.

Inside the house, I’ve prepared a place for this lovely tree, and we spend the evening stringing lights and placing ornaments on it. The scent fills the house. We discuss every ornament, for they all have meaning and memories. Some are from my childhood, and some belonged to my grandparents. Each year, the children are given one new ornament each for their own collections. We have many stars on our tree!

Finally, the Sun halts its southward journey. It seems to stand still for a day or two. On the longest night, our family holds vigil and awaits the rebirth of the Sun. The Holly King arrives and leaves gifts under the tree and in our stockings. My husband and son reenact the Oak King/Holly King duel, with the Oak King triumphing at this turn of the Wheel. We bid good-bye to the ancient Holly King, ruler of the darkening days, and celebrate the birth of the Oak King who rules the brightening days.

A few days later, we’re able to mark the slight northward passage of the setting sun behind the hill. The growing days give us hope as we enter into the coldest and stormiest time of the year. We eagerly await Imbolc and our local BrighidFest, which marks the beginning of the end of winter.

I take my spinning wheel to the BrighidFest and demonstrate how to spin wool. I have a steady stream of people, men and women, eager to try their hand at spinning. Most of them get the knack of it enough to take home a length of lumpy yarn that they spun themselves. Truly a bit of real magick!

Imbolc is traditionally the time of year to make candles. This is something I’ve never done. I think it’s time for the children and I to try our hand at this new skill. I ponder the endless possibilities: the colors, the shapes and the scents. We have a huge collection of old crayons that can be used for color, and some glitter, and I can “frost” the candles by whipping some warmish paraffin with the hand mixer. Oh my, what fun we’re going to have!

I hope you have a warm and cozy winter, filled with much love and learning.

A Summer Walk to Dream

A Summer Walk to Dream

by Jim Sun Weed


I walk out into the sunny day, the morning breeze growing sweeter as the day’s heat develops. Over the soft grass, over the concrete sidewalk, striding in my sturdy boots and feeling like good Tom Bombadil, the Master. A small brown bird is on the ground, tugging at a food wrapper. She winks at me and hops out of the way.

Another bird swoops over my head. They say hello and bless me; their language is a visceral one which my body understands. The blackberries, ripe and heavy, and the golden grass gone to seed, vibrate their hellos.

The Earth is singing, and it’s a tune which calls me back time and again to the old ways, when Nature taught us everything, gave us everything.

Tall trees are swaying in the breeze, caressing my vision as the wind moves through their leaves, showing the white undersides contrasting with the dark green of summer growth. I pass beneath a great Himalayan Pine, touching the top of my head to its hanging boughs. These trees, these plants and animals, are all players in a rhythm which is of wholeness and rightness.

I am open and strong. I forget about work, bus schedules, career plans. I stop arguing with myself. I stop trying to define, and the answer is given as I too enter the sacred rhythm.

I visit the old pine trees on Capitol Hill. They were here before white people came to this part of the Earth. I can feel their thoughts telegraphing to one another, preserving the fabric of unity and protection. They are the good old citizens and I am grateful to be walking beneath them. Am I just like a human animal today? I have no creed, only rhythm, aliveness, gratitude and the sustaining oneness-interaction. Just as the trees and animals vibrate in their innate communication, I feel the blood of my body resonate with this vibration. A friendly Douglas Fir beckons me; I run my hand lightly over the rough bark of its trunk. I sit at its base, my head against the trunk, feeling as though we are the center, with the Wholeness choreographed around us. I close my eyes and feel the comings and goings of animals and insects, and the passing of time.

My thoughts melt into dreaming as I fall into a sleep. Nature is everywhere alive; the web of Spirit cannot be destroyed. Sometimes I am unaware of it. Often I don’t understand the significance of whatever work or play I’m doing. But that doesn’t matter. The only judge is me. As I enter more deeply into awareness of Nature around me, I become healed and whole. How have we ignored Nature for so long? What are we learning through our experience of separation?

In my sleep a dream washes over me. I am in a dank tavern, wood paneling, a couple of pool tables, just a few patrons talking about regular workaday things as the afternoon light slants in through the tiny window. I notice a tingling sensation in my feet and hands. Looking around the room I see it suffused with the same tingling: a light, a shimmering which seems to grow and envelop everything and everyone in the room. Is it coming from the spaces between atoms, from the freefall that lends grace to the gaps in our understanding? I wake.

The breeze plays in my hair. A squirrel is looking at me, head cocked to one side. An airplane flies overhead. The sun is still bright and the air sweet and warm; the afternoon feels as lazy as I do. I get up, dust off my jeans, and stride away to the tavern for a beer.