Reawakening- Reflections on Imbolg

So this winter has been wild. I saw a week or so ago that three cities in Ohio were among the 20 coldest in the US, one of which is our nearest metropolitan center. Early last week, schools and businesses were closing due to the extreme cold, and tonight we’re being told to look for 6-10 inches of snowfall. I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely feel like the Cailleach has her hands all over us this winter. It has been wild and unpredictable and extreme, yet I do see that coming to an end. It was in the 50’s over this past weekend, I totally felt like Brighid gave us a bit of a respite, a sign that, yes, this winter shall end.

Things have been a bit chaotic in our house, and so we didn’t celebrate Imbolg in any particular way. With having the poultry out at the in-laws, I do try to at least make time for some small rite to ensure their continued health and fertility (that’s my goal for this weekend). We just bought a house (closing next week!) and have been busily packing for our move. That, along with my return to school, E’s busyness at work, and the cabin fever and minor illness that has just lingered through the winter (sniffles, colds, and sinus issues), have just not made for a “good” time for celebrating. Though one could argue that it’s the perfect time to celebrate, we made it through the winter! I’m just not in the mood to be in charge of that celebration, and I think this is a hang-up all solitaries face.

But I have been reflecting on what it means to be pregnant at this time of the year. During my last pregnancy, I spent this time freaking out and going over all of my options (abortion, adoption, carrying to term), and didn’t spend much time thinking about how awesome it is to be pregnant at Imbolg.  We see the first signs of returning life, the first sheep are coming into their milk, soon we can put down our cold weather vegetables, and winter is nearly over! While winter itself is cold, we retreat into the warmth of our homes until we can reemerge into the bright warmth of summer, like a babe emerging from the womb. Due to the circumstances of my son’s birth, it is medically inadvisable for me to carry past my due date. So I know this baby will be here by Earth Day, we will be moved into our new home (hopefully) long before then, and we can take that time to welcome in the fullness of spring and the reawakening of the Earth. But for now, I can feel the baby getting bigger, and I know his time is coming, just like the Earth is awakening and preparing for another year of richness and abundance.

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Such a Terrible Blogger

I’m such a terrible blogger. I go months and months without posting, it’s awful. But we move on. Busyness has ensued in these past couple of months; leaving one job and starting two others, teaching art (yay!), and entering into the “terrible-twos” stage with our son (judge my parenting skills all you want, but it exists and it sucks).

The garden has suffered majorly; all my radishes went to seed before I managed to pull them, and the spinach bolted pretty early. My husband told me the other day, “You know what we aren’t? Gardeners.” And sadly, I have to agree with him for the moment. Our garden is a mess, things didn’t get planted on time, weeds didn’t get pulled, and this weather just makes me want to stay indoors. I hate mugginess and heat. We had later frosts, and then, BAM!, the summer hit. Drought last year, and lots of rain this year. Bleck! It also doesn’t help that I have to pack up my son and drive to get to my garden.

And these chickens, my goodness how they grew! We never got more than the 17 chicks we purchased back in March, and that’s ok, since there were 10 roosters in that mix. So we’re off to the farm this afternoon to pick the one we want to keep, and the rest will be getting processed July 12th. We had also picked up some cast-off Easter ducks back in May, and found out this week there are 3 drakes and only one hen, so two of those big boys will be off to the processor as well. I’ve dubbed them Thanksgiving and Christmas, so now I have a time frame in which to learn how cook duck. I don’t feel as bad about them, they aren’t friendly like the chickens. But I know what these fowl ate, how they were treated, and I am grateful for the meals they will provide for our family. Anything to lessen our dependence on the food industry and our contributions to inhumanely raised and butchered animals.

Why should I care about what, where, and how my meat is and came from? The more removed people become from their food, the less real food they eat. And the less grateful they are for that food. When people disassociate the feathered, squawking creature with the frozen bag of breasts at Walmart, they lose respect for the life that was given to preserve theirs. And if there is no respect for something, why be sustainable? There will always be more in the freezer. But when you come at it first-hand, there’s an emotional-spiritual obligation to that thing, because you are the one who took the only thing it had, it’s life, for yourself. Are you really going to just throw it out? Wanton killing and destruction; whether of people, livestock, or crops, characterizes many of the most politically tumultuous times in man’s history. It’s a mindset that relegates the killer to more worthwhile being than the victim.

It’s a mindset that I experience with many religious types. The idea that first comes their specific branch of whatever religion, then comes the members of that religion, then comes the rest of the world. The more I hear people speak about the atrocities that are currently being visited upon this religious group by that other religious group, yet with no accountability taken by the first religious group for any ill they have ever committed upon anyone else, the more disgusted with “religion” I become. Why on earth would anyone ever choose to associate their spiritual beliefs with self-righteous, hate-filled people (unless, they too, are self-righteous and hate-filled)? I would like to start exploring and explaining more on what drove me to where I am now, why I don’t join “religious” groups, and how I really am finding true spiritual fullness in the path I am on today.

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Chick Days

Chick Days

So it really is spring time, since we just picked up our first batch of chicks (aka McNuggets). I’m so blessed to have married into a family that is in to homesteading, since we are stuck in a rental that we can do nothing with outside. The landlord already had a fit about my makeshift raised planter, he said it looked trashy, because it was just full of dirt. Well, no wonder, it was November, and all the plants are done by then. So it went away. But that’s ok, because my in-laws live about 5 minutes up the road, and we garden out there. And. Now we have peeps! Brought 17 home yesterday, and are planning on getting at least 12 more within the next few weeks. These guys are Buckeyes, which are a heritage breed created to be hardy in this weird Ohio weather, and still be a dual purpose bird. We think this batch will probably be kept as layers, but the goal is to raise some meat birds. All the chickens out at the in-laws are free range, and live a pretty sweet life.

But what does this have to do with paganism, since the this is a pagan blog? You hear people from all religions and spiritualities talking about living their beliefs; well, this is part of how I live mine. If I want to talk about loving the earth and following a natural cycle, then I need to put it into practice. Homesteading, to me, puts you in a position to deal with nature on its terms, and you develope an appreciation for it that you otherwise wouldn’t have. More on that later though…

Heavy Duty Trellis

Heavy Duty Trellis

Found this awesome trellis design on one of the most epic blogs ever, The Homestead Survival. Even though winter is fast approaching, that doesn’t mean we should neglect our gardens and food plots. With much of the dead and dry(ish) flora, we have a wealth of composting material to collect, along with great over-winter mulches. So instead of raking those leaves to the curb, rake them to the garden or compost heap. And start planning for your garden next year, or even get down some late fall plantings! Gardening is a year-round endeavor everywhere.

Spring Cleaning

For me, spring cleaning is starting here, on the good ole’ interwebs. I’ve been meaning to get writing about my spirituality (a form of CR), my thoughts on parenting and religion (first baby’s coming in September), and some craftings, rites, and recipes. So here I am, attempting to clear out the mental clutter that seems to work its way into my brain every winter. But now the weather seems to be turning around, the snow is melting, and I’m getting more energized (thank you, second trimester)! Got all the potted plants sitting in the bright sunshine and started a more frequent watering cycle to bring them back from hibernation, made it into the veggie garden this past weekend between rainshowers to turn the soil, and as long as this weekend’s weather follows the forecast, we should start digging for the expanded garden. So its time to break out all the house and garden blessings for the spring, set up the new garden altars, and begin the composting/offerings again for a healthy bounty. Also with the coming of this baby, its time to start researching and writing any rites for quickening and birth, along with teaching CR and hedgecraft from the get go. Time to get down and dirty with it, again.