“Winter is the season of recovery and preparation.” –Paul Theroux
There is a quality of stillness and serenity to January. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays life begins to settle down; the cold, crisp days and long nights draw us back to home and hearth. Outside the icy ground is covered with a thick layer of snow and very little stirs, but inside there is a roaring fire, hearty food and those deep thoughts that arise late at night when nature is at rest. Yet even within this frozen world there are signs of new life; the days gradually grow longer, a few flowers such as paper-whites and camellias bloom and the pale winter sun fills this silent world with its singular light.
“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” –Pietro Aretino
Imagine an enchanting old town somewhere in the far north. It is late afternoon on this winter day and the sun is beginning to set, streaking the watery blue sky with vibrant shades of apricot, gold and mauve. Smoke rises from the chimneys and disappears above the gently sloping roofs and church steeples of our little hamlet. Come along with me down the winding cobbled streets, past quaint shops, restaurants and taverns. Fresh snow has begun to fall but it isn’t far now. At the corner is a little bakery; in front stands an old woman roasting chestnuts who looks strangely familiar. Dressed in layers of brightly colored shawls she smiles at us warmly and points towards the left. Did you notice the ring on her index finger? It is made of rubies, emeralds and diamonds and sparkles like the stars that have begun to appear in the evening sky.
We follow her direction and come to a cul-de-sac. Just ahead is an old gate which leads to a courtyard and at the far end an old building with lights shining brightly in the windows and above it a tower. In the sky the Full Moon rises. We cross the empty courtyard, past an empty fountain and stone benches dusted with snow and approach a door made of fine, old burnished wood with a big brass handle. From inside the sound of music and laughter can be heard. There is a sign above the door, Astrology Café. Welcome back dear friend, you have been missed.
“If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…If you are a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” –Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)
Inside there are logs burning in the big stone fireplace, candles glowing on all the tables and soft jazz playing in the background; the aroma of cinnamon, apples, butter, vanilla and molasses fills the air. Take off your coat and make yourself comfortable in one of the cozy armchairs near the fire. Watch out for cats curled up nearby.
Let me get you a bowl of winter twelve vegetable stew or some eggplant parmesan or perhaps a bowl of thick soup (creamy tomato, mushroom barley, red lentil with sage, carrot-almond, or Eddie’s six onion); all served with crusty, homemade bread (organic sour dough, crunchy multi-grain, focaccia) and fresh butter or goat’s milk cheese. For dessert: sugar plums and currant tart, butterscotch cashew bars, roasted pears with espresso mascarpone cream, apple-berry cobbler with crème fraiche, dark chocolate shortbread or non-gluten gingerbread. To drink we have rich, dark coffee, thick, velvety smooth hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, a selection of wines, herbal teas, and warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks.
When you’re ready follow me up the spiral staircase, past the library filled with books on astrology, alchemy and metaphysics. Now we turn down a corridor, through a door, then up a narrow, winding stairway to the tower where our old friend, the crone, the wise woman is waiting for us. She’s been waiting all along.
The tower room is lit by candle light and filled with the faint scent of lavender, rose and a hint of pine. Around the room the sacred statues stand like sentries; Kwan Yin, Mary, Buddha, St. Bridget. Our friend is seated at her round oak table; spread out before her are Runes, favorite stones, cards, and crystals. She looks up, smiles warmly and beckons us to join her. Notice the ring on her finger? Do you remember her now? Take a seat dear friend for the night is young, magic is in the air and there is much to discuss. She reaches into her purple velvet bag and chooses a Rune; it is Hagalaz. Listen closely; perhaps she holds a message just for you.
“Change, freedom, invention and liberation are all attributes of this Rune. Drawing it indicates a pressing need within the psyche to break free from constricting identification with material reality and to experience the world of the archetypal mind.
The Rune of elemental disruption, of events totally beyond your control, Hagalaz has only an upright position, and yet it always operates through reversal. When you draw this Rune expect disruption, for it is the Great Awakener, although the form of the awakening may vary. Perhaps you will experience a gradual feeling of coming to your senses, as though you were emerging from a long sleep. Then again, the onset of power may be such as to rip the fabric of what you previously knew as your reality, your security, your understanding of yourself, your work, your relationships and beliefs. Be aware however, that what operates here is not ultimately an outside force, not a situation of you-at-the-mercy-of-externals. Your own nature is creating what’s happening, and you are not without power. The inner strength you have funded until now is your support and guide at a time when everything you’ve taken for granted is being challenged.” – The Book of Runes (Ralph Blum)
The Cancer Full Moon – January 4-5
According to the Cherokee this is called the Snow Goose Full Moon and it is a time of creative expression, expansion, and tangible blessings to those who align with its energy. It is also known as Old Moon, Wolf Moon
Capricorn is a practical earth sign associated with those qualities we need to survive in cold weather; caution, patience, perseverance, and good reality testing. Moon ruled Cancer is a water sign, motivated by emotion rather than logic. Cancer is lush, open, and vulnerable; a summer Moon in a winter sky. The Capricorn Sun (father time) values action in the outer world; the Moon in Cancer (the great mother) respects inner work, compassion and intuition. This Full Moon reminds us that authentic worldly power and security comes when we honor our feelings and our feminine nature. Where are you out of balance; too much focus in the world or not enough? This Full Moon is an invitation to integrate these two energies.
Full Moons are passionate, creative and sometimes explosive. This Full Moon is intensified by the fact that all-or-nothing Pluto is conjunct the Capricorn Sun and opposite the Cancer Moon while rebellious Uranus makes a disruptive square to both, turning up the volume on the ongoing power struggle between these two great gods of change. Add to this the lunar nodes (in Aries/Libra) within a degree of the Full Moon as well as Uranus and Pluto square and we have a volatile and unstable set up. The bad news is that something has to shift, both in the world and within us; the good news is something is ready to shift. Mercury and Venus have both just entered freedom-loving Aquarius suggesting that there is no growth, no evolution in going back. We need to jump wholeheartedly into our future. Or as Brene Brown says, be all in. Look back at April 2014 when Uranus and Pluto were involved in a cardinal grand cross within a degree of this Full Moon. What were you struggling with then; what are you ready to finally let go of now? This is the perfect time to set something in motion for Uranus and Pluto will make their seventh and final square mid-March at 15 degrees and the stakes will be raised.
The asteroid and goddess Vesta is conjunct the Sun and Pluto. In mythology, Vesta (the Greek Hestia) was the keeper of the sacred fire, the eternal flame. She was not represented in human form (like Athena or Artemis); instead her presence was felt in the living flame at the center of the home, the temple, and the city. What is at the very heart of your being and how can you keep that flame alive? Vesta is associated with devotion and dedication; the sign Capricorn is about commitment. Dedicate this year to the fire that burns at the very core of your being and bringing that dream, that desire alive.
What in your life is calling you
When the noise is silenced
The meetings adjourned…
The lists laid aside
And the Wild Iris blooms
By itself in the dark forest…
What still pulls on your soul?
Daring Greatly in 2015
In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes about speaking at the TED Conference. She was the closing speaker after three days of the most amazing and brilliant speakers and was understandably nervous. Just before she was introduced, she remembered the paperweight on her desk with the quote, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” But then she had another thought which she whispered aloud to herself, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” She goes on to write: “Both of the talks are flawed and imperfect, but I walked into the arena and gave it my best shot. The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time. And, I’m not sure how one measures the success or failure of a talk, but the minute I was done I knew that even if I flopped or drew criticism, it had been totally worth it.”
So, I ask you dear friend (and myself as well) what’s worth doing this year even if you fail? Are you all in? Are you committed to keeping that flame alive? “Daring greatly” isn’t just about speaking in front of thousands; sometimes it’s as quiet and humble as giving yourself some necessary time off, having the courage to change an old habit or healing an old wound.
What is your special word or phrase for 2015?
Ceremony, rites and rituals are important; they bless events, make them sacred as well as anchor them in the world. One of my favorite January rituals is finding a word (or phrase) that describes what I want to bring forth in the New Year. I don’t like resolutions; they’re too militant and never last. A simple word of phrase is a reminder, a sign, a direction I want to move in. Over the years I’ve chosen words like Manifest, Emerge, Faith, Gentle, etc. What is your word or phrase for 2015? Consider Joy, Abundance, Forgiveness, Heal, Play, Courage, Compassion, Love, Yes, Outrageous Good Health, Radical Self-Love, Slow Down, Happy No Matter What. You get the idea. And you can change it at any time; nothing is written in stone. Play with it; make it your own; above all, have fun!
January 6 is Epiphany
The word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek, meaning to manifest. In Old England it was said on the eve of Epiphany, “On the charms of this night will the harvest depend.” What do you want to bring into manifestation; what is calling you? There is no better time to focus on this. Create your own ritual for this hallowed time.
“There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.” – Shana Niequist
Beloved Friends, It is late here in our tower room above the Astrology Café. The candles have all burned down, the Snow Goose Moon hangs in the darkened sky as pale as snow; the old owl has appeared on the branch of the Alder tree reminding us that it is time to say goodbye. Thank you for visiting. Your presence has been a gift; one that I will cherish during these cold days and lengthy nights. Enjoy this wondrous winter season; relish long walks through the woods, cozy naps by the fire, comfort food and creamy hot chocolate, candle light and soothing lavender baths. Winter is the season for inner exploration; for great literature, poetry, music and Full Moon spells; it is a listening time, a learning time. Above all, love yourself, feel good, and be grateful. All is well, you are loved, Virginia
Be sure to connect with me on Facebook, check this website for updates on the New and Full Moon each month and read my blog: www.yourarenevertoolate.com
Mornings at Blackwater
by Mary Oliver
For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.
What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.