Thursday, January 26, 2012

Musings on my daughter's roots

I was born by the mediterranean sea, where the land carries the echoes of peoples long gone. The Romans, the Greeks, the celto-liguric tribes and peoples further back in time, who sailed the seas and traded, shaping what later became Europe.

The Mont Ste. Victoire near Aix-en-Provence, where we lived

For the first few years in this life my eyes perceived the world in a special shining light. The bright sun of Provence warmed my skin. The ground was dry and my feet toddled over pebbles, the air I breathed was full of spices.

I grew up in the North of Germany, where the soil is dark and moist, the land is flat and the horizon is low. Where buzzards fly in a leaden sky and the Goddess lives in moors and heather. There I watched my mother and I learned to love the Earth. I learned about the cycles of planting and growth, of harvesting and rest. I learned how to build and tend to a woodfire.

In spring the white skin of birch tree maidens shines bright, planted in pairs following straight trackways across the great Northern Plains, their hair of fresh green leafes dancing in the wind. In summer cattle graze on deep green meadows, growing fat, crops grow high and flowers are colourful and abundant. Ancient stones have stood there for millennia, like watchers following the change of the seasons and of ages.

One of seven neolithic tombs, called the Seven Stone Houses, in the heather not far from where my Mum lives

Standing Stones also watch the land of Brittany. My father's people are the people of the West and every year I went to connect to this part of my heritage. There I heard the ancestors call me, the Celts and the neolithic people, whisper stories to my ear, of sea lore and earth lore, the hidden meaning of the symbols carved into the stone. I heard the mermaids sing and the selkies cry. Marie Morgane stirred the seasalt within the blood that runs in my veins and told me stories of the world below the tides.

I walked among stones aligned and womb-like tombs, built from stone and earth. I walked the coast of grey granit in the rain and watched the green-grey sea, sea spray clinging to my skin and hair, rugged rocks and stormy skies, royal sunsets and misty veils. I swam and played in the waves, found treasures on the beach, watched the sea pinks nod their little heads on the cliffs and I listened.

I listened to the music in the wind and stories of the seagulls.

My mother's folk came from the heartland of Germany, crossing artificial borders and stretching into slavic lands and Baltic countries. This is a land that has seen many uproars and wars, where peoples fought and killed other peoples, where blood has deeply soaked the earth and cultures and kingdomes came and went.
It is hard to feel secure and safe where nothing is constant, because what is built is quickly unrooted and torn down again. The only thing lasting there is the land itself, which carries memories of all. Plains and fields interchange with hills and deep forests, land and sky meet directly and for ever the living energy of creation and destruction flows between the two, extending out into and nurturing the whole of Europe.

I have been blessed to have been able to do a little bit of travelling, dipping into the flow and the scent of other cultures on other continents.

I have marvelled at the speed and sound and colours and at the stillness and the attention to purpose and detail of Japan, I have watched the mist hide the traces of the Native Americans' heritage between the trees in the woodland hills of Washington, USA, and I have felt the desert sands on my skin while ancient stone faces silently smiled down on me in Northern Africa. I have yet to explore the lakes and forests of the North, I am longing to see the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun. But where I feel most at home is in Western Europe. I long to return to walk the lush green land of Avalon, to warm myself by the fireplace with a hot Whiskey again while outside the Irish rain comes lashing down, to walk again among the Stones in Brittany. I love my life in the Rhine Valley where the Goddesses Matrona guard the land and I love to return to my roots in the dark land of the Northern plains. But I miss the Sea. I hear the wind and the harps calling me, I smell the fires and I feel the Stones in my blood.

Snoqualmie Falls

Path up the Tor, Glastonbury

Hathor's Temple in Dendera

My Mum and I in Matrona's Temple in Nettersheim

The haven that is my Mum's garden in the North.

This is only my part of the whole picture. It is for my partner to tell his own story, if he wants to do that. So when our child is born, where will she feel is her home? Where has her soul come from? What will I teach her? Who will she be?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blessing Ceremony before the Birth

Sunday morning I went to the river in silence. Breathing in through my yoni and out through my crown I connected to the Source, the Lady's energy that runs in the Earth. It was very misty and quiet with barely any runners. Calling in the Lady of Avalon and Bridie the Maiden Goddess I walked to a place where there is access to the water. There are always loads of seagulls there, ducks and often also some swans. There weren't any swans on Sunday morning, but the seagulls were sitting on the balustrade. They took flight when I approached and circled in the air, calling. It looked beautiful against the grey sky.

I called to Bridie then whose sacred day is the 2nd of February. She is the Fiery Arrow, the holder of the Triple Flame of Healing, Smithcraft and Poetry. She is the Maiden, who brings new beginnings, and also the midwife who helps the new into being. My due date is the 3rd of February, so I have from the beginning of my pregnancy felt that she is my baby's guardian, watching over me and over the pregnancy and that all is well.
As I stood there by the water in the mist, I felt the gates between the worlds were open. Especially above the water the mist was so thick I really couldn't see far, and I listened to the seagulls as they settled again. The ducks mostly slept.
I poured my libation of cow's milk into the water and asked Bridie for a gentle and joyful birth. I asked her to watch over me and my daughter and to keep us healthy. Then I dropped my dried rose petals, lavender blossoms and herbs into the river, asking Bridie to bless our new life as a family together with health, joy, love, understanding and abundance. I asked Her to be my daughters guardian goddess all her life. As I watched the stream carry my offerings away and the seagulls circle in the air I scried for my daughter.

When I heard a crow calling behind me I turned around and there was Morgen Thitis in Her crow form sitting on a lamp post, bearing witness to my ceremony and answering my prayer, letting me know that my daughter would be watched over all her life.

I love it when the world reveals its magic, and when you don't know where Thisworld ends and the Otherworld begins.

It was a beautiful, powerful ceremony. I thanked the Lady and walked home through my hometown. Then I had a very nice nurturing müsli for breakfast, sitting in my kitchen and watching the mist slowly slowly disappear through my window, until the sun came out.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sacred Nights and Holle's Day

In Germany we celebrate the twelve Sacred Nights. The first night is the night of the Winter Solstice and then again the nights between the Mother's Night on the 24th of December up to the 6th of January, which is in some regions called Perchta's Night, in others Holle's Night or the Shining Night. In German these nights are called the Rauhnächte, which phonetically is the „harsh nights“, but it actually derives from Rauch – smoke and räuchern – to smudge, and they are called this because during these nights, we smudge every room of the flat or house every day, asking the Goddess to bless our home and all living there.
I have to admit the Winter Solstice passed for me without me barely paying notice. I was in some other place, being slightly obsessed with getting ready for the arrival of the little fairy and somehow felt I had to manifest and paint a baby changing unit before going home to the North for Christmas.

This is it. It's so pretty. This is where we will look after the little bean.

Christmas with my family was very quiet and wonderful. My poor Mum had a chemo treatment just the day before the Mother's Night and was absolutely low on energy during the holidays, which suited me fine, because so was I. I spent Christmas on the couch by the fire, reading and eating. Everybody loved my Lebkuchen and Christmas buiscuits, so that made me happy, we had some lovely food and I got some really fantastic gifts, including a car seat for the baby from my brothers and lots of sweet tiny baby stuff from my brother's partner. My eldest brother, my Mum and I spent one whole night on watching the first season of Downton Abbey together, which had been my gift for my brother, and we really enjoyed that.
I couldn't stay long in the North due to appointments with my midwives and finally the beginning of a new project in work. But I did manage to go to PolyTheae.V.'s celebration of Holle's Day at the Centre Helfensteine near Kassel!
I was really eager to go to and at least mark the end of the 12 Sacred Nights. The three days festival marked Holle's Night with a beautiful ceremony, storytelling, songs, workshops and talks. Due to difficulties with my car... yes, more difficulties... my friend Helga and I arrived late, but we did get there! It was organised by my sister priestess of Avalon Miriam and her organisation PolyThea e.V., and it was wonderful to see her again, and my friend Peti, both had been priestessing with me in the first German Goddess Conference in October 2009 and I hadn't seen both since the Avalon Goddess Conference in July 2010. Later in the evening my friend Simone arrived, again I hadn't seen her since the German Conference. There was hugs and sisterhood and laughter and it felt SO GOOD! But of course there were also loads of women there I hadn't met before and also some of the „bigger names“, and I was really curious what they were like. The energy all the way through the three days was lovely, everybody I met was really friendly, welcoming and in fact there was only one woman who came across a bit weird, but never mind. I felt really well there and felt I made lots of new friends, though I usually need a while before I feel comfortable around new people.
It was absolutely lovely to stand in circle again with sister priestesses and to call in, I was in the South so I called in the Water and though I wasn't involved in any other way in the festival, I loved to priestess, so thank you big time, Miriam, for asking me xxx
It was a really lovely time. Some of the workshops were wonderful, some I didn't like too much. We journeyed into the Underworld and took whatever we needed for the new solar year from the Hel's Cauldron. We journeyed into Arianrhod's spiral castle of Caer Sidi and into the Stillness and brought back visions for the coming months. We strengthened and blessed our visions through voicing, witnessing and laughter in the ancient rite of the Yule Boar. We danced and shared traditional Yule/Christmas cookies.

The feathered fan I made. My old one was broken some time ago and I never replaced it, so it's good, to have a wafter again to use for smudging.

Holle's Day this year was special in another way for my sister priestesses, because it was the day of our friend and teacher Kathy's masectomy. So we gathered outside on the land, called in the Wheel of Avalon and did a healing ceremony, reaching out to her across the land and through and the land, sending her our love and healing on the currents in the Air and in the Earth. I was glad to be able to do this with Miriam and Peti, and also glad to by doing this bring the special energy of Avalon into the Holle Festival, which is so important to me.

The grounds of the retreat house are beautiful. I didn't make it up the Helfensteine, but then I didn't sleep much and being 36 weeks pregnant I thought I can really leave this experience to the next time I'm there.
Another thing I enjoyed was how during the meals all the Mothers shared their stories of their own pregnancies and birthings with me, and how all the Lovers asked me to share about my experience of this pregnancy. Since we do not live in clans anymore and don't have frequent women's circles anymore, we are in danger of losing access to this wisdom. But I have never accepted going through this transition time on my own, but have always reached out to my sisters. Sharing and celebrating our moon cycles and life's initiations is part of our heritage as women. And it's wonderful to experience and fun to do!
I enjoyed being in the festival space a lot, and it was exciting and positive and great, but I was also quite happy when I was back home Saturday night. Time to rest now and let the vision take root. Even though the Sacred Nights are over, we are still in the Stillness and spend as much time as possible dreaming, hibernating and just being.