Praises to the Snow Queen

Winter Comments & Graphics
Praises to the Snow Queen

The lightness of Your touch may not be noticed
The brightness of Your presence may not be seen
The coolness of Your body may not be felt
Until You, Goddess of Snow, fall heavy
Until You, White Lady of the Forest, reflect sunshine
Until You, Ice Queen, want to be felt

Praises to the White Goddess
Praises to the Lady of the Ice Forest
Praises to the Snow Queen

Blessed Be

Seeking Shelter in the Trees

Seeking Shelter in the Trees

 

by Catherine Harper

I have always been fascinated by the forests and mountains–the architecture, it seemed, of the earth itself, which rose around me and held up the heavens. From the house I grew up in, I could see the peaks over the lake, and I watched the sun rise first behind one, then another, through the progression of the year. Those mornings, it looked as if someone had ripped away darkness from the sky, making way for dawn but leaving a ragged edge of night–the mountains–clinging to the land.

When I was a child and dreamed, as children do, of running away, I dreamed of running to the Cascades, and of living in the woods by myself. The details of the story I would tell myself changed; one time I might do so as a child, another as an adult. Sometimes I would imagine myself in a tiny cabin, with a woodstove against the cold, other times living in a burrow camouflaged by trees and bushes.

While my fascination with the idea of living off the land has not changed, my ideas regarding its practicality certainly have. I couldn’t fit all of my books into the tiny cabin, and Internet connectivity would be chancy. Living at higher elevation shortens the growing season, lengthens the commute and leaves one far from the urban centers of liberal culture… I won’t even go into the logistical problems of living in a burrow. I haven’t entirely given up on the idea of a cabin in the woods, but if I ever achieve it, I suspect it will be a tamer and less permanent retreat.

But the seed of my childhood stories is still with me. As long as I can remember them, mountains and forests, in my mind and heart, have been a place of refuge.

When I was in college, I studied Kazakh language and culture and ran into a similar theme of mountains as places of safety. “My heart to the mountains…” went the saying, as I remember it. The Kazakhs were a nomadic people who did not shelter behind walls or fortresses other than those that nature had provided.

There is a story of a tribe that was being chased by enemies intent on killing them who fled–families, herds and all–into the Altai Mountains. On they went for days, but still their pursuers came behind them. Finally, they saw before them a she-wolf, and perhaps in memory of the long stories of friendship between wolves and their people, or perhaps just out of desperation, they followed her.

She led them into what seemed a narrow cleft, but on entering it they found a sizable cave, stretching back deep into the bowels of the mountain. Quickly, before their foes could catch up enough to see them, they and their animals all followed as the wolf led them deep inside.

On and on the cave went, and so they continued for days in the dark except for the small lights they could carry with them, straining always to see the sliver glints off the coat of the wolf ahead of them. In the darkness the children cried and the parents comforted them, but in the quiet of their own hearts they despaired of ever seeing the day again. And yet, what could they do but go forward, when behind them was certain death?

But at last the darkness of the long cave began to fade, imperceptibly at first, like the sky lightens before dawn. By stages they walked into dusk and then twilight, and then into dawn as they could see ahead of them an opening filled with daylight. When at last they emerged, they found that they had come to a long valley around a lake, lush with thick grass and sheltered on all sides by the mountains, a place where they and their children and their children’s children could live.

My mountains are not the rocky faces of the Altai range above the steppe, but always-green places, netted with rivers and frosted with snow, roofed with the green canopy of cedar boughs held aloft on their straight and sturdy pillars. Almost instinctively, now that I am grown and can drive myself, I go to them when I am troubled and the human world around me seems too turbulent.

There is a point, whether I am in a car or on foot, where I stop and look back behind me and see mountains there, too–mountains on all sides. And at such times it is as though I can cease to strain to hold a great weight, because I have no fear of falling with the mountains around me to hold me up. The very ground cradles my feet. The mountains are ancient and vast. Bigger than me, older than me, they were born of fire and molten rock and survived the advance and retreat of glaciers. There is nothing they do not know about enduring.

Compared to the bony ridges of the earth (if not to me) the trees are more fragile, and yet more brightly alive. They have sunk their roots into the land and know always which way to grow–dancing, sometimes, in the wind and singing their long, slow songs. Trees live a span that is closer to that of human years, and yet how differently they use space, how differently they consume and grow.

And so I come, one afternoon, to an impromptu hike in the sleet. There is symmetry in walking up toward a waterfall that is coming down toward you. Where the sun reaches the ground, the Siberian miner’s lettuce (a wonderful salad green, and good source of vitamin C) is leafing out, and the salmon berries are opening their early magenta flowers.

Before me, behind me and all around are the mountains, though the trail I’m hiking is relatively low and free of snow even this early in the year. In the thick woods there is less ground-level greenery. This is old growth. About me there are wooden columns that three of me could not reach around. They stretch toward the heavens, and fallen trees draw diagonal lines, caught by their living neighbors in their fall.

On the ground is a thick carpet of dead, gray fallen needles and branches, and the contours of trees that have completed their journey to the ground, some adorned now with saplings that draw nourishment from the rotting wood. A forest that is at once imperceptibly but inexorably springing into life and collapsing back into decay.

When I was a child, I imagined the forest to be a place of physical refuge that would hide me, feed me, supply my needs and protect me from the outside world. As I have grown, my relationship with that outside world has changed, so perhaps it is only expected that the nature of the refuge I seek has changed as well.

When I go to the mountains and into the forest, I am setting aside for a while the mental structure of all the things in the world to which I am tied; giving up for a space my name, my calendar, my shopping list and due dates, my friends, family and acquaintances, the model in my head of all the places that are part of my world and that I return to so often that they are mapped into my mind. I am not seeking to cut myself free from this web, but to step aside from it and its demands and see it from another place. In the forest, I am confronted with places where the touch of human hands and feet has been slight, where the cycles are not set by our minds. Not my project, or process, but the fundamental reality of rock, twig, puddle and tree.

Daily Motivator for March 28 – Take a step back

Take a step back

Step back from the loud and pressing concerns of the moment. Step back, get some perspective, and remind yourself of how good life can be.

Many of the things you see as problems would have been considered to be blessings by people in an earlier era. Think of how good you have it, and of how you can make good and fulfilling use of what you do have.

You are able to make a difference, and that ability can literally take you anywhere you wish to go. Though your efforts may be difficult and challenging, those efforts give you some extremely valuable options.

Don’t take those options for granted by letting them sit idle and unused. Instead, take them to heart and consider how you can make life richer and more beautiful by making use of what you have.

Take a step back, and look objectively at where you are. What you will see is the great and wonderful opportunity that is your life.

Now, while you have it, seize that opportunity. Life is always good, because you can always make it better.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Introduction To Scrying – Create the landscape

Introduction To Scrying

 

Create the landscape

Once you have established a secure space, take some time to think about the general layout of your world. Decide on the major features of the landscape, what sorts of buildings or other structures you want. Make a mental “map” of the areas in your world that you will want to visit most often. Once you decide on these major features, they should not change.

A few ground rules for inventing your world:

— You should keep the contents of your world absolutely private. Do not speak of them to anyone, and do not write them down anywhere. This first world is going to be your secret refuge and workplace, and much of its protection comes from no one knowing what it is like. Once you have the technique down, you can build other magickal spaces for public purposes.

— Make your world much bigger than you could maintain by conscious use of your imagination. Create as many detailed areas as you want, but surround these with regions whose landscape is only known in a general way, and whose specific content is unknown. These allow room for expansion, and for the “surprise me” exercises later on in this paper.

— Make the world a place where you feel comfortable and safe, so that it reinforces the impressions established in the previous step, and make it a place where you can have fun.

— You can populate your world if you wish, but DO NOT, under any circumstances, use images of living people in your world. For some time, all of the contents of your world will be a reflection of yourself in one way or another. There is a possibility that images of people will be “taken over” by some unconscious part of your mind as a vehicle of expression. If you use images of real people, the behavior of the image may carry over into your relationships with the real person, with ill effect.

Begin to build your world by picking one location within your “map” of it, and imagine yourself standing at that spot. Fix the relationships between various landmarks in your mind, and see them surrounding you at the proper angles and distances. Fill in the details to the degree that you would actually be able to see if you were standing at a similar spot in the real world.

For example, one of my magickal spaces has a landscape of hills and ravines covered by a thick forest like pre-colonial America. The central area contains a rather utilitarian castle on a low bluff overlooking a large river meadow. A small tame river meanders along one edge of the meadow. Various outbuildings and special-purpose areas are dispersed in clearings in the nearby forest.

I began to build this world by imagining myself standing in the meadow, looking north. I can see the green grasses, small colorful wildflowers, and an occasional cowpie nearby. Animal paths wander about, and a more direct human-made path goes from the bluff to the river. The bluff appears to be made of a flaky granite, and the castle is right on the brink of it; a couple of winters’ worth of erosion to the bluff might undermine the nearest wall. I can only see all of one castle wall from this position, and part of another; I can just barely see the top of a tower above the wall. All of the walls are made of dressed gray stone without mortar. Below the castle a tunnel or gate is cut into the bluff at the meadow level.

Turning to the east, I see that the bluff gradually reduces in height towards the south, coming down to the meadow somewhat south of my current position. I can see the end of a dirt road where it curves off the bluff and into the meadow. More forest rising behind the road implies that the ground beyond is higher. I know from my “map” that there is an area of grassland a mile or two in that direction.

Looking south I see that the river continues in that direction, and passes through a cut in the hills several miles away. Sunlight glares off the entire length of the river in that direction, and a haze prevents me from seeing anything beyond the gap.

Looking west, I see that the river is fairly shallow at this point; small ripples cover its surface as if it were flowing over a gravel bar. The forest beyond it is edged with undergrowth, mostly honeysuckle bushes, which has been tramped down in places as if by animals coming for water. Paths leading into the forest quickly disappear into the shadows of the trees.

You do not need to fill in all the details of the scene consciously; in fact, it is better to encourage your imagination fill in many of the details by itself. Give it the general outline and let it show you what you should see in such a location. E.g., instead of trying to imagine each blade of grass and wildflower in the meadow, I would let my unconscious do so. If I liked what it did, I would send it a feeling of approval; if I didn’t like it, I would tell it to try again, and turn away for a moment to let it change things.

Once you have the view from a particular location fixed fairly well, move to other nearby locations — twenty to thirty yards away, for outdoor locations — and imagine what things would look like from this new position. What does the changed perspective reveal that was hidden before? What was unseen from the previous location that can be seen now? (Note that perspective in magickal space is never quite the same as it is in the physical world, though the difference is hard to quantify; you will not be able to make things appear in precisely the way you see natural objects.)

Keep moving to new locations and build up an image of the scene as it would be seen at each one, until you have a good sense of the place as an actual “space”. In the example space, I spent some time going to various positions in the meadow, noting that less of the castle was visible close to the bluff, more of it from farther away; noting the colored gravel in the riverbed, and how it made a ford across the river, etc. Then I went up to the castle and looked outward from positions on every side of it, seeing the wider landscape, filling in the positions of various known places in the forest, deciding how far the grasslands extended behind the castle, and so on. Do this for your own space.

When you have established the perspective from several locations, try moving smoothly between them, with the parallax of the surroundings changing continuously, as it does when you move about in the physical world.

At first you will find that your vision of your world has a tendency to “withdraw” from the scene; your imagination will try to view it as if seen through a window, or on a movie screen, or like a tableau in a museum. Whenever you notice this has happened, firmly place your viewpoint back inside the scene, and fix it there by turning and looking at what is in every direction around you.

Also at first, your world will tend to be still and tableau-like, a frozen image. Once you have the appearance of things fairly well established, try bringing some action into the scenes. Let grass and tree limbs be blown by breezes, and hear the sounds the wind makes. Watch water move and hear the sounds it makes. Add some living creatures to the landscape and let them move around in ways appropriate to their natures.

It is also important that you stay relaxed throughout the exercise; doing this work should be like a relaxing daydream, not requiring fixed concentration and alertness. Do the relaxation exercise before starting each session, and do it again if you find yourself getting tense at any time during the session. Let your mind do as much of the work as it can without conscious decisions on your part, and encourage it to do more.

You should spend at least several weeks on this exercise, and as much more as you want. Take your time, relax, and give as much work as you need to filling in the details in all the important locations in your world. Indoor locations should be given as much time as the general landscape. The more thoroughly you do the work in these early stages, the more effective your scrying will be later.

Introduction To Scrying – Create the landscape

Introduction To Scrying

 

Create the landscape

Once you have established a secure space, take some time to think about the general layout of your world. Decide on the major features of the landscape, what sorts of buildings or other structures you want. Make a mental “map” of the areas in your world that you will want to visit most often. Once you decide on these major features, they should not change.

A few ground rules for inventing your world:

— You should keep the contents of your world absolutely private. Do not speak of them to anyone, and do not write them down anywhere. This first world is going to be your secret refuge and workplace, and much of its protection comes from no one knowing what it is like. Once you have the technique down, you can build other magickal spaces for public purposes.

— Make your world much bigger than you could maintain by conscious use of your imagination. Create as many detailed areas as you want, but surround these with regions whose landscape is only known in a general way, and whose specific content is unknown. These allow room for expansion, and for the “surprise me” exercises later on in this paper.

— Make the world a place where you feel comfortable and safe, so that it reinforces the impressions established in the previous step, and make it a place where you can have fun.

— You can populate your world if you wish, but DO NOT, under any circumstances, use images of living people in your world. For some time, all of the contents of your world will be a reflection of yourself in one way or another. There is a possibility that images of people will be “taken over” by some unconscious part of your mind as a vehicle of expression. If you use images of real people, the behavior of the image may carry over into your relationships with the real person, with ill effect.

Begin to build your world by picking one location within your “map” of it, and imagine yourself standing at that spot. Fix the relationships between various landmarks in your mind, and see them surrounding you at the proper angles and distances. Fill in the details to the degree that you would actually be able to see if you were standing at a similar spot in the real world.

For example, one of my magickal spaces has a landscape of hills and ravines covered by a thick forest like pre-colonial America. The central area contains a rather utilitarian castle on a low bluff overlooking a large river meadow. A small tame river meanders along one edge of the meadow. Various outbuildings and special-purpose areas are dispersed in clearings in the nearby forest.

I began to build this world by imagining myself standing in the meadow, looking north. I can see the green grasses, small colorful wildflowers, and an occasional cowpie nearby. Animal paths wander about, and a more direct human-made path goes from the bluff to the river. The bluff appears to be made of a flaky granite, and the castle is right on the brink of it; a couple of winters’ worth of erosion to the bluff might undermine the nearest wall. I can only see all of one castle wall from this position, and part of another; I can just barely see the top of a tower above the wall. All of the walls are made of dressed gray stone without mortar. Below the castle a tunnel or gate is cut into the bluff at the meadow level.

Turning to the east, I see that the bluff gradually reduces in height towards the south, coming down to the meadow somewhat south of my current position. I can see the end of a dirt road where it curves off the bluff and into the meadow. More forest rising behind the road implies that the ground beyond is higher. I know from my “map” that there is an area of grassland a mile or two in that direction.

Looking south I see that the river continues in that direction, and passes through a cut in the hills several miles away. Sunlight glares off the entire length of the river in that direction, and a haze prevents me from seeing anything beyond the gap.

Looking west, I see that the river is fairly shallow at this point; small ripples cover its surface as if it were flowing over a gravel bar. The forest beyond it is edged with undergrowth, mostly honeysuckle bushes, which has been tramped down in places as if by animals coming for water. Paths leading into the forest quickly disappear into the shadows of the trees.

You do not need to fill in all the details of the scene consciously; in fact, it is better to encourage your imagination fill in many of the details by itself. Give it the general outline and let it show you what you should see in such a location. E.g., instead of trying to imagine each blade of grass and wildflower in the meadow, I would let my unconscious do so. If I liked what it did, I would send it a feeling of approval; if I didn’t like it, I would tell it to try again, and turn away for a moment to let it change things.

Once you have the view from a particular location fixed fairly well, move to other nearby locations — twenty to thirty yards away, for outdoor locations — and imagine what things would look like from this new position. What does the changed perspective reveal that was hidden before? What was unseen from the previous location that can be seen now? (Note that perspective in magickal space is never quite the same as it is in the physical world, though the difference is hard to quantify; you will not be able to make things appear in precisely the way you see natural objects.)

Keep moving to new locations and build up an image of the scene as it would be seen at each one, until you have a good sense of the place as an actual “space”. In the example space, I spent some time going to various positions in the meadow, noting that less of the castle was visible close to the bluff, more of it from farther away; noting the colored gravel in the riverbed, and how it made a ford across the river, etc. Then I went up to the castle and looked outward from positions on every side of it, seeing the wider landscape, filling in the positions of various known places in the forest, deciding how far the grasslands extended behind the castle, and so on. Do this for your own space.

When you have established the perspective from several locations, try moving smoothly between them, with the parallax of the surroundings changing continuously, as it does when you move about in the physical world.

At first you will find that your vision of your world has a tendency to “withdraw” from the scene; your imagination will try to view it as if seen through a window, or on a movie screen, or like a tableau in a museum. Whenever you notice this has happened, firmly place your viewpoint back inside the scene, and fix it there by turning and looking at what is in every direction around you.

Also at first, your world will tend to be still and tableau-like, a frozen image. Once you have the appearance of things fairly well established, try bringing some action into the scenes. Let grass and tree limbs be blown by breezes, and hear the sounds the wind makes. Watch water move and hear the sounds it makes. Add some living creatures to the landscape and let them move around in ways appropriate to their natures.

It is also important that you stay relaxed throughout the exercise; doing this work should be like a relaxing daydream, not requiring fixed concentration and alertness. Do the relaxation exercise before starting each session, and do it again if you find yourself getting tense at any time during the session. Let your mind do as much of the work as it can without conscious decisions on your part, and encourage it to do more.

You should spend at least several weeks on this exercise, and as much more as you want. Take your time, relax, and give as much work as you need to filling in the details in all the important locations in your world. Indoor locations should be given as much time as the general landscape. The more thoroughly you do the work in these early stages, the more effective your scrying will be later.