high holidays

All posts tagged high holidays

Upcoming Appearances, Workshops, etc

Published November 20, 2014 by ireneglasse

The cold wind blows, but light and warmth glow brightly within!  I have a few upcoming events you should know about, all available to brighten the long, cold darkness of winter.

Wednesday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Eve), 7 pm
Harmonious Healing at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio

Relax and Re-Center before the Holiday Weekend with a special offering from studio owner Aimee McBride! Harmonious Healing incorporates Yoga Nidra, Somatic Yoga and Reiki (provided by Reiki Master Irene Jericho during the class). Find release in mind, body and spirit as Aimee guides you through gentle movement and meditation while you receive light healing energy work. Yoga Nidra, or ‘yogi sleep’ is among the deepest possible states of relaxation one can attain while still maintaining full consciousness. Lucid dreaming is the Western term used to denote a practice similar to yoga nidra. Somatic Yoga offers exercises that reprogram muscles to dissolve chronic pain, dramatically improve flexibility, regain strength, and leave you with an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by a laying on of hands. A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats body, emotions, mind and spirit. creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.  Facebook event here.
 Cost: $20, click here to register
Saturday, November 29th, 9 am and 11 am
Thanksgiving Recovery Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Come work off the calories and release any stress from Thanksgiving and Black Friday!  The 9 am class is an All Levels Prana Flow Yoga Class lasting an hour and a half.  I plan to do a lot of detox-supporting asana to help return our bodies to homeostasis after the Thanksgiving feasting.  The 11 am class is a Level One–perfect for those beginning their practice or simply looking for a more gentle flow.
Click here to register
Sunday, December 7th at 7 pm
Full Moon Labyrinth Walk at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
Need a chance to recenter in the midst of the holiday crush?  Come enjoy the beauty and peace of the Labyrinth by the light of the full moon! The labyrinth will be illuminated from 7:00 pm till 9:00 pm. Everyone is welcome. During the cooler months, we take our Labyrinth practice indoors, and will be walking the Rainbow Seed Labyrinth, a canvas Classical-pattern Labyrinth. Please remember clean socks or slippers to walk the Labyrinth in.  If you haven’t walked a Labyrinth before, there is no ceremony or ritual. We put out the little flickering LED tealights and just keep the space open 🙂  Please bring a small contribution for the UUCF.  Facebook event here.
Friday, December 12th, 7 pm
Mala Circle/Mala Making Workshop at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
The yogic answer to the Stitch’n’Bitch!  Join our Mala Circle to learn and relax while you create your very own mala!  Free for those who already  know how to make a mala and bring their own supplies, $20 for those needing the workshop instruction. Ananda Shala Instructor Irene Jericho will share her method for creating a Mala, a strand of 108 beads used for meditation.Create one for yourself or as a beautiful gift for a special person in your life.  A mala is a necklace of 108 beads commonly worn and used by yogis for for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. This practice is known in Sanskrit as “japa.” Malas are as personal as the yogis who wear them–let your creativity shine in this fun, interactive workshop. Irene will provide good beading thread to string your mala, instruction, a handout detailing the technique we will use, examples of mantras, and other tips and tricks for getting the most out of your mala.  Facebook event and supply list here, click here to register if you plan to take the workshop portion.
Thursday, January 1st, 7 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
New Year’s Day Purification Ritual
Enter 2015 from a centered place of peace. Release the energies of the last year, and set a harmonious tone for the year to come. Sacred Space will be held from 7 to 9 pm in the Sanctuary of the UUCF.  Attendees are invited to move through the Elements, releasing the shadows of 2014 as they go. Elemental Guides will be available at each Quarter to offer a way to move into the energy of a new year. End your Purification journey with a walk to the center of the Labyrinth to receive any messages for the new year. All are welcome to attend.  Free will donations are welcome.
Friday, January 16th, 7 pm
Darkest Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Inspired by Black Yo)))ga in Pittsburgh and Tough Love Yoga in Atlanta while paying homage to our area’s own Darkest Hour, Darkest Yoga combines flow yoga and atmospheric heavy metal to serve the greater Washington, D.C. community.  Irene Jericho (RYT 200) will be guiding you through your 75-minute moving meditation with some killer tunes over the PA. Enjoy a stripped-down, alignment-focused, no-fluffy-stuff yoga class with Ananda Shala’s own Heavy Metal Yogini.  Cost: $15 in advance/ $20 at the door
Sunday, February 1st, 7 pm
Kindling the Fire Within: An Imbolc Yoga Practice at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Winter’s darkness lingers with us still. Naked branches scrape the sky and night falls early. We crave the warmth of summer while we navigate an often snow-covered landscape. Yet in the midst of night, there is a glimmer of brightness–a tangible reminder of the sun-filled days yet to come. This light in the cold winter stillness is Imbolc. The word Imbolc is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or are expecting new life very soon. Join Irene Jericho for a transformative Imbolc yoga practice as we ignite the fire within and find warmth from the heart out. Live hand drumming will accompany the journey from darkness to light, from stillness to asana, from silence to music. Ignite your own Winter Fire, and allow the light to carry your practice into spring.  Participants are encouraged to wear white or light-colored clothing to practice in.  Cost: $20
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Of the long, dark night

Published October 31, 2014 by ireneglasse

Tonight I will dress in the sable colors
of lengthening shadows
and the sands on the bottom of the hourglass
and the deep, cold earth
that will one day hold me forever

I will deck myself in my grandmother’s jewelry
and in strange moments I will smell her perfume
glimpse a flash of copper hair
and bright blue eyes
in the incense rising from the altar

Tonight the spirits in my blood
those bright, brave souls
who fought and loved and lived
and died
will dance

And I will feel the Wheel turn

I will feel the Wheel turn

And in the depths of night I will awaken
to cold air on my bare flesh
I will shiver
and nestle into the arms of my love
to breathe deeply and feel the warmth
of life
dancing with the shadow
in my grandmother’s jewelry

Returning to the Light

Published December 20, 2013 by ireneglasse

There is a moment, hiding there in the darkness.  A turning point waiting for us as we shiver at the bottom of the well, praying to whatever can hear us to Please Help.  We do not always realize when that moment hits.  Sometimes we’re so blind with fear, with despair, that even as that first light flickers into being, we do not see it.  Our nightmares are too large around us.  And yet that barest flicker, that tender, curling flame of light is the first leaf of a new branch in our lives.  We can look back and see it, of course.  But when it’s happening?  That’s harder to do.

Fourteen years ago I was in a toxic relationship during the early part of December.  I was young, naive and trusting.  I did not see the warning signs.  I didn’t realize that I was being controlled, my personality edited.  Surely he only wanted me to make those changes because he was trying to help me.  Certainly, being a different version of myself must be better than who I was naturally.  I thought he was just trying to smooth the edges of a troubled young woman.  I made excuse after excuse.  My own self-doubt and low self-esteem meant that I believed him.  I let someone dictate to me who I was, what I liked, what I wore, how I behaved.  I allowed this theft of Self to happen.  I sank into the darkness.  I forgot myself in the night.

We were at a Christmas party when it got really bad.  He got drunk, couldn’t find me, then got angry.  I’ll remember what the kitchen of that house in Japan looks like for the rest of my life.  He started screaming at me.  He called me a whore.  He demanded that I go outside with him.

I told him no.  So he grabbed me by the head and tried to drag me outside.

And in that moment of fear, of being touched in anger, touched with violence by hands I trusted, everything changed.  I wrenched myself free.  I told him he was done.  I ran out of that party, down to the main drag and found a cab.  I was barefoot, but I had my purse.

I had something else, too.  I had that faint, early light of dawn inside me.  I was terrified, but in that dark, helpless place, I somehow found the turning point.  I ran.  I did not look back.

It was right before Christmas, but I left.
I was downtrodden and weak, but I left.
I believed then that I was ugly, that I was worthless, but I left.

I was afraid to go home.  We lived in the same barracks.  I was afraid to set foot anywhere on base.  Jay, my husband, let me stay with him.  We were just friends then.  I avoided leaving his room, so frightened to be by myself that I holed up there for days.

And yet the light was growing.  That little flicker began to spread, like dawn bringing the first blush of light to the sky.  The fear was not the only emotion I felt.  I began to feel others: self-determination, self-worth.  I could hear my Mother’s voice in my head, ‘If a man ever touches you in anger, you walk out, and you do not look back.’  I felt pride that I did what she’d always told me to do.  Those spreading beams of light were taking over.

On the day of the Solstice, when all the world fought through the long darkness to the pale dawn on the other side, I realized that Jay and I were not only friends.  He already knew, of course.  He’s always been wiser than I am.  The light that dawned that morning was the most beautiful I have ever seen, casting a golden glow over a new love.  A love that turned 14 today.

I know it’s dark out there.  I know you have shadows, battles that you fight.  I know that sometimes you are your own enemy, and slip into destructive habits, ways of thinking, patterns…

But I also know the light is coming.  The turning point is here.

May you find your light this Solstice.  And may that flicker bring you out into a radiant day.

 

The Season of Samhain: Speaking to the Spark within the Darkness

Published October 27, 2013 by ireneglasse

This morning I was very honored and grateful to have an opportunity to speak at my church on the subject of Samhain.  Video of my talk is below, the transcript below that 🙂

My name is Irene.  I facilitate the monthly full moon labyrinth walks here, teach the Thursday morning yoga class and I’m a member of CUUPS – the Covenant of UU Pagans.  As the natural world around us begins to shift toward darkness and the cycle of stillness, one of the Pagan high holidays is upon us.  I’d like to talk to you this morning about Samhain.

When I was 13, one of my closest friends lost a lengthy battle with childhood leukemia.  It was my first big death.  The one that changes everything about how you see the world.  I come from a wonderful family, but a bit of a WASP-y one.  We are understated and rational.  And like many families in our culture, we didn’t really have a way to talk about grief.  My experience of mourning within this culture was that you’re given a month, maybe more, to be upset.  And then you’re expected to get on with it.  To just get better.  Get over it.  And by that I think we mean repress our feelings so they don’t trouble anyone else.

But my own experience of grief is that it doesn’t end.  It doesn’t go away.  It transforms, slowly, over time, but it never ends.  It never just goes away.

I think part of what initially drew me to Paganism, to Wicca, at age 15, was the holiday Samhain.   As a whole, Pagans believe the soul continues after death.   We also honor the cycles of nature, the Wheel of the Year, and connect to its turning on a very deep level.  At this time in the world around us, the leaves are falling, leaving branches to clatter in the wind like so many bones.  The growing season is ending.  Shifting into the season of death, and increasing darkness.  We believe that at this time, as death appears around us, so too do the souls of those who have gone before.  We believe that the Veil between the living and the dead grows thin.  Thin enough, that those who have gone before can hear us, can see us, and can sometimes speak across that great divide.

We build ancestral altars at this time.  Both for our distant ancestors, and for the dear ones who have gone on ahead of us.  Altars can be simple or complex.  Sometimes it’s just taking out the old photos and putting them on the mantle where everyone can see them.  Sometimes it’s a special table covered in pictures, decorations, objects we associate with our lineage.  We make our loved ones’ favorite dishes for family meals.  We visit cemeteries to clean off the graves, and decorate them anew.  And most importantly, we have a space for grief.  For allowing those places inside us to breathe.  A space to speak the words aloud: I miss you.  And to know that they are heard.  A chance to connect.  Every year.  A visit with the Other Side.  I spend a lot of October talking to my friend, to my grandmother, in the quiet spaces of my day.  I can feel them in the air.  Sense them drawing near.

The night of the 31st is when the Veil is thinnest.  It’s why it’s called the Witches New Year—our cycle ends, and then begins, at the death of the growing season.  Samhain Night sees big rituals honoring those who have gone before.   Some traditions do a Recitation of the Dead.  A calling of names.  Others create a Dumb Feast: a table laid out of doors, beautifully decorated for the season, and carrying the dishes our lost loved ones and ancestors most enjoyed.  That they may eat, drink and be merry, in their own way, when they visit.  Personally, I gather with a close group of Pagans.  We stand in a circle, and we speak about those we wish to honor.  We talk to our families, to our friends who have gone beyond.  We pour out libations on the ground to each.  We cry.  We laugh.  We tell the old stories, and sing the old songs.  And every year, that aching place inside us that is grief has a moment to be soothed.  A chance to breathe.  A moment between one year and the next, between the worlds of time and place, when we come to stillness and communion.

It is that stillness, that inner quiet, that we carry with us into winter.  For Pagans, the dark season is a time to go within—to do deeper, more personal work on ourselves.  Like our furry, four-legged brothers and sisters on this earth, we hibernate.  We turn inward, and seek our own illumination there.

It’s easy to get distracted in the warm months—there’s so much to do!  Festivals to attend, projects to start, visits, vacations…  When the light begins to fade, though, a different kind of work can begin.  What did you lose this year?  What quiet places inside you are aching from neglect?  We expend so much energy on the needs of others.  Have you remembered to tend your own flame?  It’s okay if the answer is no.  I know it definitely is for me.  That’s the other part of why I look forward to Samhain so much.

This month, I’m redecorating my home altar and beginning an 18-day sadahana: a Sanskrit word for a spiritual practice with a specific goal in mind.  I’m working on integration; on trying to get all the pieces of me to be a more cohesive whole.  I have a sub-goal of deeper connection, on every level.  To deity, to myself, to my life.  During that 18 day sadhana, I will spend time every day focusing on my goal.  I will use prayer, meditation and physical yoga postures to help me on my way.  It’s the beginning of what I think of as my Winter Work.  My time to do some repair and upgrades on myself.

I realize that it may sound like a lot of work.  I take the inner space exploration of winter pretty seriously.  But honoring the energy of the dark season doesn’t have to be so elaborate.  It can simply be finding a little space in your morning to set an intention for your day.  To choose stillness for just a moment.  It could be turning off the TV and putting away the smartphone a little earlier in the evening to allow for some quiet time.  A space away from distraction and discussion.  You could start journaling.  Or maybe it’s time to read that book you’ve been meaning to pick up.  The season of death is also the season of renewal.

You see, at Samhain, we go underground as well.  Cycles occur in more than the world around us.  It’s so easy to forget, with all our technology, all our bread and circuses, that we are a part of nature; not separate from it.  And like the trees and animals, we need time to rest and nurture ourselves for the next growing season.  We too grow weary after a long summer.  We tire and fade, and need to go into darkness for a time.  We renew there, heal the wounds, tend the fire within.  And then we emerge again.  It is my hope to step out into spring as a better version of myself.  A more authentic, more grounded Irene.

I think most of all, Samhain speaks to the spark within the darkness.  The loved ones that exist beyond death.  The light within us that shines on the darkest of days.  The comfort of a warm hearth on a cold night.  This is the gift, and the lesson, of this season.  That the Wheel of the Year turns, and we turn with it.  That a journey into the night is not something to be feared.  It is simply a part of the cycle.

May this season see you blessed with space, with peace, with stillness.  A blessed Samhain to you all.  Thank you.

Twilight Covening

Published July 16, 2013 by ireneglasse

I try not to push my own ideas and experiences on other people.  Don’t get me wrong–if you ask me what I think of something, I’ll tell you the truth.  But I don’t like telling other people what to do.  We’re all so different, so varied, so unique in our needs and perspectives, that pushing my solutions on another person could be as useful as trying to put out a fire with a can of gasoline.

That said, I do have one full endorsement for those of you on the Earth-centered-spirituality Path.  Go to Twilight Covening.  Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with sparkly vampires.  The name refers to the transition between light and darkness, and has been the title of the festival since 1986.  Twilight Covening is a retreat in Massachusetts, and a beautifully intense one.  I’m going again this year, and it will be my fourth year attending.  I’ve pasted my reflections from previous years below.  Read them.  And then go register.  It’ll do you a world of good.

I’ll begin with the reflections from my first year attending, since this particular missive explains a bit about how Twilight runs.

October 13th, 2010

This is for the Pagans, or those of you who have been curious about some of the Pagan stuff I do.  Everyone else, these are not the droids you’re looking for.

This past weekend (Friday-Monday), I attended Twilight Covening in Massachusetts for the first time.  It’s a four day spiritual retreat for those on the Pagan path and this past Covening was its 25th year.

There are a lot of things from this past weekend that I’m still processing and am not ready to talk about yet.  Maybe I never will be.  Some things there are no words for.  So what I’m going to try to do is tell you about the space, the environment that Twilight creates and envelops you in.  Perhaps that will be enough to give you an idea of what’s happening up North.

Imagine four days of ritual space.  The ritual begins in the evening on Friday, when everyone arrives.  The initial circle is formed, the energy spreads out.  And the energy…  There are around 200 people there.  Every single one is there because they have chosen to devote four days to intense spiritual, emotional and psychological work. Imagine ritual space infused by the focus of our most committed practitioners.  And that those committed practitioners stand to the right and left of you, holding your hands.

Now we add to that.  That ritual space is constantly actively held.  At all times, a Clan (usually 6-18 people) is actively concentrating on maintaining the spiritual connection of the space.  They lend their energy to help your connection, to help you focus, to help you on your path.  At. All. Times.  Night or day, you are energetically guarded, enhanced and protected by a team of dedicated energy workers.  Even while you sleep, they help you stay attuned.

Now we add to that.  Everyone is there because they want to work as hard as you do.  Everyone is there because they are actively trying to improve themselves, to heal, to connect, to grow.  So everyone you talk to is sharing a lot of the same things you are going through.  Everyone there wants you to succeed.  The people you interact with honor your trust.  They listen when you share your insecurities, your fears, your weaknesses, and do not trivialize or brush off.  Instead, they try to find ways to help you.  They pray and laugh and weep with you.  They help you find ways to lower your shields and to reach out in ways you didn’t know you could.

Now we add to that.  Your specific Clan is even closer to your own path.  Clans are small–the largest I saw was maybe 18 people.  They are led by one or two facilitators–some of the most accomplished Priests and Priestesses our tribe has to offer.  The Clan you are in is specific in its focus.  The people closest to you not only share your goal of working on your spirituality, but they share some of the specifics of that goal.  You eat, sleep and work with your Clan.  You share and learn from each other.  You hold each other while you cry, you raise energy together, you joyously witness the steps each Clan member takes forward because you know just how hard they were to take.  You’ve been taking those steps yourself.

Now we add to that.  The space that you are in is breathtaking in natural beauty.  You’re on top of a mountain in the Berkshires.  There is no light pollution, so the sky at night is a sea of stars.  The trees are in a full autumnal riot of color and their vibrant tones are reflected in the lake.  There are boulders and tall pines, towering oaks and birds singing.  There are spaces for quiet reflection, there are spaces for intimate conversation, there are spaces for group work.  There are even spaces for silliness.  Mirth, after all, is the counterpoint to Reverence.

These words can only capture a fragment of what that space feels like.  I wish I could give you the memory of that feeling.  I wish I could cover the world with it.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should go.  If you’re on the Pagan path, if you’re working on your spirituality, Go.  Set aside those days for next year now.  Start setting aside the money now.  Go.  Please Go.  You probably need this as much or more than I did.  And I needed it.  I needed it the way a rose needs the sunlight.

Go to Twilight with me next year.  Our tribe has built something beautiful in Massachusetts.  You should feel it, too.

Reflections from my second year: October 11th, 2011

Some days are all about Gratitude.  Today is a day like that.

I got home late last night from Twilight Covening, a four day spiritual retreat for those of us on paths of Earth based spirituality.  It was my second year attending the retreat and as ever, I find myself struggling to put into words the beauty and depth of the experience.  The overriding emotion, the greatest arc and simplest expression I can find within my thoughts, is Gratitude.

I am grateful for the Space.  For the trees as they slip into their autumn colors, for the deep blue of the lake, for the rushing of the streams that race down the mountain to meet it.  I am grateful for the boulders warmed by the sun and silvered in moonlight.  I am grateful for the open fields of soft grass where we stand in circle, create labyrinths in flour, spread out our yoga mats or simply lie down to recharge our solar batteries.  I am grateful for the quiet of the northern forest, and the way it gently reaches out to soothe our senses.

I am grateful for the Community.

For the circle of Elders who somehow felt the call in the wind from those of us who wander.  Pagans do not have Churches.  We do not have sprawling infrastructures to support us.  In many cases, we walk almost totally alone.  If we’re lucky, we have some friends to share the path with.  If we’re lucky, we somehow manage to find our way.  And now I know that we are lucky, for the hearts at the center of EarthSpirit felt the song inside our wandering souls, and made a space in which to sing it.  The love and work and joy and energy our Elders put into the retreat is a palpable force, reaching out to embrace all the drifting leaves the autumn blows in.

For the Clan Leaders who choose to spend four days in service to the Twilight community as a group, and specifically to a small group on a particular, focused path.  These wonderful people, some of the best and brightest Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Yogis and Pathworkers our community has to offer, wait for us with open arms.  They embrace us as we walk in, help us shed the layers of dust, pain, sorrow and stress we carry.  They wrap us in their attention and guide us.  They hold a lantern to light our way.  They hold our hands as we take the first steps.  They share our triumphs, our baby steps into a better place.  They love us and teach us.  They celebrate and grieve with us.  And they do this out of a desire to serve, to help, to midwife transformation in others.

For all of the attendees of Twilight Covening.  We come from our jobs, from our families and stresses.  We come from places of joy, places of work, places of pain.  We come from all over the country.  And we join hands and hearts.  We raise our voices together in song and chant.  We eat and talk and laugh together.  We share our paths with each other.  We marvel at each other’s stories, and at the lights that come on inside ourselves when we realize that we are not alone.  We travel into ritual together, into altered states.  We journey, we work.  And we become a family through that process.  Whether we smile, grieve, pathwork or meditate, we do it in the spiritual and often physical embrace of our family.  Of the Twilight Tribe.

I am grateful for the Experience.  For the moments that dance in my memory, that illuminate and warm.  They will feed me this winter.  They will carry me into Spring.  They will dance with me in Summer, and they will follow me back to Twilight next year, to collect more threads for the tapestry.

I am grateful for Fires in which we burn the things that hold us back.  I am grateful for the drums that echo, for the flames in the night, for the stars that see our work.  I am grateful to release, and to then turn about and push energy toward the releasing of others.

I am grateful for the soft, sweet chanting in a space for Dreams.  For the music of harp and flute, for a place to come to stillness.  I am grateful for the inner quiet, and for a chance to foster that quiet in others.

I am grateful for Ritual.  For the passage through a waking dream.  For learning, and growing, and flowing.  I am grateful for the transformation of pain into joy.  Of walking in darkness alone to walking toward a fire on a moonlit field where dancers spin, singers weave their voices in song and healing flows like water.

I am grateful for Celebration.  For dancing for hours beneath that almost-full moon.  For feeling so much joy, so much love, so much connection, that the only way to express it is to dance.

I am grateful for Twilight Covening.  For the thousand little and big things that make it what it is.  For the dozens of people who work to create a space of Mystery.  For the light that burns so brightly inside me for having been there.

And so it is with these words that I close.  Come with me next year.  The door that you are seeking exists.  The path beyond it is real and is waiting for you.  And the forest where that path begins?

It’s at Twilight Covening.

And, at last, this past year’s thoughts.  October 10th, 2012

The nights grow longer, and for those of us within Earth-centric spiritual practices, the year is winding down.  Thoughts are of endings–the final gathering of summer’s gifts from the garden, the last outdoor rituals and festivals, the thinning Veil around us.  The voices of the Ancestors and Spirits grow stronger.  We prepare for work, for the inner journey of the dark season.  Walk beneath the open skies to hear the song yourself.

Listen to the trees.  The green world calls out, the pulse of life thumping through the rough cloak of bark at your touch.  Place your hands upon their bodies.  Feel the vibration of the autumn wind passing through upper branches.  Close your eyes and listen.  They hum, sway and sing a song of Time.  Feel that tide pulling you in, pulling toward darkness.  Breathe.  Follow the song down into their roots, spreading out beneath you.  Let the wave wash over you.  The endless current of roots to crown to roots, the slow drawing-in of sap for the winter.  The trees are Centering.  Feel the balance of an inward shift.  Sink.

Listen to the rocks.  There is a bliss in the quiet stones, gently humming with a sound both bright and low.  A stillness carries up from their secret hearts, passing into the warm hands resting on their craggy surfaces.  Feel them.  An echo touches the human caress, passes into you.  Hear their endless song of dark to light to dark.  Sink in.  Lean against the boulders.  Breathe.  Let the pulse take you deep into the ground.  Feel the turning, the tilting of the Earth.  The song of winter coming, the song of darkness lives in the ore beneath your hands.

Listen to the night.  Let the cloak of the long shadow wrap around you.  Hear the wind sing, the calls of the night animals, the crackle of footsteps on dry leaves.  Lean into the coming quiet and feel your heart beating warmth into the cool air.  Turn within.  You see, you hum as well.  A rhythmic song crackling with both the fire and frailty of our human shells.  Listen.  Let the endless cycle of heart to limbs to heart take you deeper.  Breathe.  Feel your song turning you inward, gathering closer to the light within, the candle in the night.

Listen to the Song.  The eternal hymn of Time.  This is the family we share, these vibrations the language we all speak.  The song of the forest, of the mountains, of the Earth.  Of yourself.

Listen.  Let the music take you deeper.

Dissolve.

The Light of Imbolc

Published February 1, 2013 by ireneglasse

I’ll tell you a story today.  I’ve only told a couple other people this particular one, because I feel self-conscious when I try to explain.  Some things are harder to put into words than others.

I don’t really remember how old I was when it happened.  I was little, probably under age 10.  The television was on, and a commercial began to run.  I think it was for jeans, of all things.  The part that struck me was the music.  It was a version of ‘this little light of mine,’ a rendition that began with the refrain whispered, then grew in volume and enthusiasm.  It was well done–inspiring, empowering.  And it made something click inside my head.  I started to pray.  To beg with all my will to the big, nebulous idea of God I had at the time, to make me a bearer of light.  I swore that I would do whatever I was asked, whatever was needed, if I could just carry light.  I would do anything.  I would serve that light forever.

Maybe I made that promise into air and nothingness.  Maybe I made it to my higher self.  Or maybe some One heard me, and answered.

I’m human, of course.  Flawed as we all are.  But I have tried my best to keep my word.  When I was a teenager, I wrote rituals for our little group of Pagan teens.  When I was in the military, one of my nicknames was Mother Goose.  If someone was having a meltdown in the middle of the night, I was the one that the Duty came and woke up.  As a musician, my lyrics carry messages.  Most of them are some form of ‘wake UP, the world needs you.’  I taught Paganism for years.  I’ve run festivals for the community.  I’m now in school to teach yoga.  The light, you see.  However I find it, I try to serve it.  It also lives within me.  In a very real way, the Gods kept their promise, too.  My sense of connection to the Powers is a feeling of a light glowing inside my chest.  Some of my friends see more than just the physical surface of things, and they can gauge my mood based on how brightly that light is shining.

And perhaps that’s why Imbolc is my favorite holiday of the year.  It is a celebration of light – the time when we really, truly begin to feel the return of the sun.  The very first stirrings of the coming spring can be found, and we notice that the days are a little longer than they were.  Imbolc is a time of purification.  It’s the deep breath before we sing, the tilled earth before we plant.  It’s a time to plan, to dream, to prepare.  It’s a time to cultivate our connection.  To strengthen ourselves for the warm time of the year, when our energy will be going in myriad directions, often at breakneck pace.

Imbolc is also sacred to the Goddess Brigid.  In a simple definition, she’s the goddess of Healing, Smithcraft and the Arts.  She is a source of light, particularly in the midst of darkness.  Some of her devotees keep a lamp always lit in her honor (the Sacred Flame of St Brigid in Kildare, Ireland, is often the origination point–St Brigid and the Goddess Brigid long ago merged together in myth).  In a very real way, Brigid *is* the light.  In years past, I ran a Pagan music festival called Brigid’s Faire–a burst of light, sound, art and warmth in the midst of winter.  More than any other named Goddess, I serve Brigid.

Between Yule and Imbolc, I braid my hair every day and wear a pendant with a picture of BrigidIrene on it.  The braids are an offering, an observance.  A time every morning when I remember the light within me, what it means, and what I promised in that long ago prayer.  As ever, I strive to serve the light.  I keep the oath I swore.

I wish you joy and light this Imbolc.  I wish you love and purification.  I wish you peace and blessings.

And if all goes according to plan, I’ll be giving you a gift fashioned of light and life tomorrow.

Blessed Imbolc, my friends.