Four February Poems

February honors the turning of the sun year’s Wheel toward the light of Spring. The fire festival of Candlemas is also known as Imbolc, which translates as in the belly, or, ewe’s milk, for the time of lambing. Through ceremony with Trish Cameron, I have revitalized my commitment to my creative work, praying that the instrument of my Being make beautiful word music in the world. May this time of initiation brighten you! And may you illumine your own corner of the world.

In honor of February’s new light,  I gift you with four challenging poems of mine, a series that emerged during ceremony weekends with Trish. Let these poems sound in your heart.

If you want a written copy, let me know in a Comment. (And if you wish to receive email notice of new posts from me, please click “Subscribe”at the bottom of the sidebar on the right.)

Musings on Ceremony

IMG_0637Ceremony has always been central for me. Recently I have had the great good fortune to sit in sacred circles here in North Carolina with a medicine woman from Ireland named Trish Cameron. Fire ceremonies with Trish feel like a culmination of my early love of ritual and my many decades of circling with women.

From my First Communion in 1955 onwards to my Catholic boarding school in the 60’s, complete with silent retreats, I was immersed in ritual. Girls got to sit on the Mary (left) side of church, where we could gaze at her benevolent statue that seemed to mother us. Gregorian chant captivated my ear, that plainchant which sounded on only one note at a time with no regular rhythm, with mysterious Latin words that rolled their wonderful vowels in my mouth as I sang them. I basked in the beauty of the altar with its rich spotless cloth and always fresh flowers. I loved the golden chalice and the bright vestments of the celebrant that looked so flowing and feminine. I swooned to the smells of beeswax candles, frankincense, and myrrh.

I felt the IMG_3103purification of dipping my hand in the Holy Water font. During special days, when the round white host called the Eucharist was displayed in a fantastic vessel called a monstrance, I was transported. When the host was hidden behind the golden doors of the tabernacle, I imagined a magic land behind those doors.

IMG_0704I especially relished the contemplative feel and the deep quiet of the church when there was no one else present to disturb it. That was during grade school lunch hour, when my best friend Cathy and I escaped from the playground to the church for respite.

We had heard stories from the nuns about the saints overcoming horrible obstacles because they burned with love for the Divine, so Cathy and I prayed to become saints ourselves. We were desperate to forget our difficult childhoods, to feel ecstatic the way the statues in church looked. St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower; St. Christopher, the kind man; Tarcisius, the beautiful boy who clasped the Divine to his breast even as he was beaten to death by bullies—we wanted to have what they had, those saints with the rapturous expressions.

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Was that ceremony? Maybe it was only the paraphernalia, the dazzling tools, the beauty of the high ceilings and the safety of the church pews during lunch hour, that met such a central need in me. The actual Mass never had the allure of the lush trappings, particularly after it dawned on me that the ritual ceremony didn’t include me as a girlchild in any way. But love of ceremony’s consecrated setting and sacred tools stayed with me, so that when I was initiated as a witch in 1976, I felt like I was coming home. (Called the Old Religion, the term Paganism comes from the Latin paganus: of the land, country dweller, one who lives by the rhythms of  nature.) Wicca confirmed all the sensory world as treasure.

IMG_0428Now, instead of simply witnessing it or participating passively in a set ceremony, I could create or co-create ceremony for myself. Wherever we found ourselves as circling celebrants, the circle itself became our church. That’s when I began to understand ritual’s real purpose.

Although a specific purpose varies in every ceremony, I like the general Praying to the 7 Directions on Equinoxdescription given by MariJo Moore: “Ceremony is a necessary human act to regain balance with All-that-is, and is the highest form of giving back to earth so she can replenish her supply for humankind. It unites us with all of creation as well as the realm of the ancestors. It allows us to raise our consciousness and shed the illusion of separation.”

Whether I sit alone at my altar or circle with others, ceremony creates a vessel forIMG_0002 the evolutioIMG_4529n of my consciousness. Aug 8, 2014 - 53

During recent ceremonies led by the impeccable Trish Cameron, I stepped between the worlds and traveled to a truly profound level of awareness. Claiming my path of light and my emerald flame, I crossed the threshold into Brigid’s smithy. And how She tempers me! More than ever, I realize how ceremony has always been a linchpin in my life. How grateful I am for every rite and ceremony– from marking moon phases, making merry over a new season, celebrating  life transitions– to honoring the risks and glories of Life itself.IMG_0611

In the Middle of Merging

Human LuminousI am in the middle of merging and organizing thousands of my photographs into one photo library. This process has gifted me with a mini life review! I’m watching a stream of the  past five years flow by, the years since I retired and moved  from Wisconsin to Asheville.I am amazed to find how wealthy I am!

camp dinnerRich with travels, rich with love, rich with beauty, rich with fitness. As I sort and group pictures of my life into folders such as Family, Hikes and Camping, Travels, Visitors, Performances, etc, each folder with many albums, I observe the wealth of my own happiness. I smile in deep appreciation for the people and places and experiences that have shaped me. I see that my life here in the oldest of mountains is bountiful, far beyond what I ordinarily carry in my awareness.

IMG_4132This review in photos of my Asheville life has humbled me with immense gratitude.

 

 

 

 

Mountain Light Sanctuary Haikus

Two of my haikus appear in a beautiful new book just out. Click Mountain Light Haiku to order a heartening book of haiku poems authored by visitors to the Mountain Light Sanctuary. Selected and produced by Michael Lightweaver, the stunning photos and haikus about the sanctuary will inspire you to seek out the place for yourself– thirty-four miles from Asheville, near Barnardsville. My dear Annelinde Metzner has work in this new collection as well.

from page 19, 20:

In the stone refuge
carved from rocky river bank,
we both surrender.

Fairy bridges call.
We dance across so lightly,
turning into trust.

©Susa Silvermarie 2015