Metamorphoses, transformations, transpositions
Identities lost and found as shapes shift
On the paths of the dead, finding
New ways to be alive as forms fuse
One to another : human to badger,
Bee to wolf, bear to otter; from one to many.
On these paths anything goes (or goes).
What might we become along these trails?
All is fluid, molecules of liquidity like
Hydrogen and oxygen in water sliding
From one identity to another in the dark,
Tripping over each other to find again
The way to the light which beckons
Far off yet, but welcoming whenever
And wherever she will guide you.
‘Quietly going about the business of keeping the Shrine area in order in such a way that it becomes an intense devotional activity in itself’ so I wrote in my notebook after beginning the re-arrangement of the garden Shrine at Imbolc or Gwyl Ffraid.
It is the simple performance of such tasks and spoken words that seem most to make the Shrine a substantial presence, rather than any ritual acts. Having described the simple regular devotions at the Shrine in past posts there seems little point to re-iterating them, hence this occasional ‘Diary’ rather than a more formal account.
It has always been my view that others cannot be directly taught how to engage in devotional activity; though they can be shown how others do it, only by a process of discovery can one become aware of what an individual needs to do alone or together with other like-minded individuals.
Institutional religion is often more of an institution than it is a religion.
The Sun sits low in the sky and dips even lower as his year draws to an end. The pale light of day soon passes to night. The tide ebbs. Each flower, each tree, each head of grass and grain, has shrunk back to kernel: to hard seed, to nut, to reserved essence, biding the time until the light grows again and roots find a way through nurturing soil.
For now, Epona traverses the paths of the dead, riding through the dark, through earth and sea, each life that has passed moving with her, finding the way that she opens for them, losing the memories she closes behind them. The Sun will return and a new year begin, but now is the time of repose.
Epona, we are with you in the time of waiting, we pause with you now in the dark of the year.
We mark the time until the longest night when you stir the deepest well of the darkness
like a river rising from the caverns of gloom.
A candle is placed on the altar unlit, marking this time of darkness. It is a dark candle and when lit it will be scented and burn low and slowly. Another candle is placed there beside it, a large red candle for the rebirth of the Sun. This will be lit at the Solstice and burn through the longest night. Some holly and some ivy are also there.
on the ivy leaf
on the holly bough
As red fire stirs
in the kindling.
We count three days
to the longest night
Three more till the glimmer
of a longer day
Then seven to the eve
of New Year Calends
These days we count
from the Feast of Epona
of the Year’s turning.
Calan Mai or Beltane, is a festival for the beginning of May according to the calendar. But the calendar has changed so I’ve always adjusted my sense of when the festival should be celebrated to match the season as it actually is in Nature and also to celebrate it during the period of the month when the Moon is waxing. The key natural sign is the emergence of may blossom on the hawthorn trees. In the past this often led me to a date quite late in the month, but more recently the seasons are shifting to an earlier date as the climate warms.
This year the hawthorns have been in blossom in some places since the warm spell in April. But the flower buds remain closed on the hawthorn behind my shrine, being a little higher up than those along the valley which are in full bloom. I’ve been biding my time before the final act of transforming the shrine : the annual re-painting of the white horse for Rhiannon’s ride from Annwn. After the warm spell we had Storm Hannah. Flower petals were strewn across the garden, including some sprigs of not quite open may blossom, some of which I gathered around the shrine.
I have decided to do my rite of welcoming on 5th May, the day after the New Moon. But to paint the horse for Mayday itself, which I have now done. I’ve also celebrated the date with a walk in some bluebell woods and returned to light a green candle to mark the day. Now I will mark the time until New Moon after which I will celebrate the return of Rhiannon , bringing her Otherworld magic into our world once again.