New Year Frosts

The New Year cold has frozen the water on Mererid’s well. I had already removed the water pump as the solar panel which works it doesn’t get enough sunlight to power it at this time of year and I anticipated the danger of damage if it froze. Today I could not raise the Cup of Rosmerta for a dedication and had to content myself with touching the solid surface of the pool:

Ice locks the waters of this well Mererid
Your memory of flow
Frozen now in the stillness
Of a frosty morning bright
With silvered grasses shining

The Sun sits low on the ridge and will not rise much higher before moving behind the distant trees. Last night the clear night sky was alive with stars. I turned from the Plough and the Pole Star in the North to view Orion in the South with the silver-blue light of Sirius low down as it will be for these few months that it remains above the southern horizon. With no Moon these stars and the shapes of constellations are etched sharply in the sky so that the Hunter and his Dog are the watchers of the Night. Today the sky remains clear, the air still, sharp and bright while the Sun remains high enough in the sky to provide some comfort against the cold. So I turn from the frozen well to Rhiannon’s horse, wreathed in the grey shroud I put about it at Winterfall. I tell her every day when I visit that even as she rides far off across the plains of Annwn, yet she is here in our hearts:

Rhiannon Gu
Er rwyt draw yn Annwfn bell
Rwyt hefyd yma yn ein calonnau ni

And so she is. I begin to give some thought to maintenance of the Shrine. For now I will let the fallen leaves from the oak tree remain. A late shrunken rose can stay in it vase. But the rose bush will need pruning. Most of what needs doing at Rhiannon’s altar will be work for the Spring. Before that I need to clean and replace the waterproof seal on Mererid’s pool ready for the re-installation of the pump and the flowing water when conditions are right, and before that for a dedication to the rising springs at Imbolc.

Gwylnos y Gaeaf

Rhiannon rides the plains of Annwn
her wild steed pacing here and there
on other paths, near and far.

 

On our lands the light dwindles,
the Sun dips low behind the hills,
the night gathers darkness.

So we hold our vigil for Epona –
Gwylnos y Gaeaf – her steed stabled,
a stillness of waiting for what will come.

Her vigil is long, night after night
while the Sun is still below the horizon,
on past the Solstice, no shift in the days.

Until something stirs from the cauldron of night,
the slightest glimmer of light increasing,
the faintest rays rising against the dark.

 

Epona sits astride her mare.
We welcome the new light of a new year
and keep our hearth a place of cheer.

Winter Vigil

Mererid’s well is a quiet place: the waters still

It is a site of winter vigil;

Rhiannon’s shrine is lonely, but still haunted

So I keep company with her here, undaunted.

Vigil for the Dark Moon after Samhain

This year, to mark the passing of Rhiannon to Annwfn, I made a grey shroud to put over the white horse on her altar.

A little before the precise time of the Dark Moon, as the light of day began to fade, I went out to the garden altar and made my usual dedication to Mererid as Guardian of the Shrine at her fountain. Then, turning to Rhiannon’s altar, I spoke some familiar words to her. The last of the garden roses were scattered about and I also put some pieces of unburnt incense there. Then I spoke my formal dedication:

By Orion’s light
At the dark of the Moon
Now the hawthorn tree is bare

As the Hunter’s spoor is laid tonight
A shadow passes through the veil
Of Annwfn on a Grey Mare.

Rigantona, roses wither on your altar;
As winter falls across the land
I’ll keep your vigil here.

I stood in silent communion for a while before taking the white horse statuette from the altar and dressing it in the grey shroud. This will stay in place over the winter, a sign both of her absence and the presence that awareness of her absence implies. I placed a small stone of black jet in each of the halves of the geode which is also on the altar. So I marked her passing in the rain, wind and gathering darkness out in the open air.

Back in the house I had prepared a large dark candle together with some smaller ones and these were lit when I came back in with these words:

Winter now is upon us
And the darkness
Around this hearth
Which we keep
For your going
Into the Otherworld
Rhiannon gu; Bendithion Llu.

So we pass the night of the Dark Moon to mark the start of the Winter season.

 

Elder Mother

{a continuation of ‘Rhiannon’s Apples‘ …..}

Elder Tree

Dark elderberries hang on twisted boughs
Unpicked and shrivelled,
Bare twigs twist to point the way
That turns upon itself a shadow veil
Shielding the world she is leaving behind
As she rides the grey mare
Fading to grey mist for a season
Seeking her fair form far away
Where he expects her, her shadow lord
Conjuring the woven ways
Through mists of his own making
Shaping a path through shapeless drifts
Each one receding through layers of world
Intricately dispersing
Wider to bring her to world’s end:
To not-world’s becoming.

…*…

Another watches her go as strewn leaves lie
On sodden forest floors
Bereft of shelter, mysteries
Of dappled green depth emptying.

Samahin Cover
Samhain Scene : From a cover for The Waxing Moon                                                         by Pat Blackmore

 


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Rhiannon’s Apples

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Apples shed into the shade of the tree
Such is the season’s trade
Between sunshine and shadow
Cast across light’s pellucid glow

As the Grey Mare passes, September’s spent
Fruit grounded in October’s
Splendour, her reins passed over
To crooked fingers of Elder Mother.

 

Roses for Rhiannon

image

This second flowering has come after the drought
It is for her they bloom
In the late light of the year
On spiny stems or on her altar.

Devotions

I touch white water falling, Mererid
from your blessed fountain;
Feel its wetness touching skin
and roses on Rhiannon’s shrine.

Hearing The Birds of Rhiannon on a Stony Beach

Hold the stone tight in your hand
Hear it sing, the singing stone
Hear her birds singing sweetly
In the high notes; in the low notes
Croaking, cawing. Modulations
High to low :

The stone is hot
The stone is cold
The stone …..

It has a life of its own, leaves your hand
When you have heard what you will hear
Then only questions:

Where is the stone now?
Why does the song fade
Where does the horse ride over the sea?

This now all there is to hear:
Hoofbeats on the waves of the sea,
Gulls calling, gulls calling
No more sweet sounds, no more harsh sounds
Woven together by her birds
But the gulls still calling, still calling
Far out over the empty sea.

So the vision fades, the music segues
To silence, to an echo in the mind,
On the wind, caught in the sound of the waves.

Yet still there’s a presence, sensed by my side,
With me always, never absent, a witness
To visions, singing birds, passing horses
That come and go between the worlds.

She never leaves me, my constant companion.