February 2nd, Imbolg or Candlemas as it is sometimes called is a time of quickening. Beneath the frozen ground, the seeds and roots of returning plants begin to stir. They have slept through the “dark time” of the year but now begin to awaken as the first signs of the coming spring appear. Snows melt, the rains begin and the very top of the ground becomes a muddy mess. Birds and geese begin to return. The yowling of cats at night marks the start of mating season. Last night, I knew for sure that spring was on the way. I smelled a little skunk, roused from his winter sleep. Did you know that the males spray when they are sexually excited? Yep. It’s officially the mating season when you smell your first skunk of the year.
The sap begins to stir in the trees. One of my favorite memories of this time of year when I was a girl was of my uncle making maple syrup. He would tap the maple trees.
We would ride the tractor and trailer with him the gather the sap from the trees. We took mason jars and drank it cold from the buckets. It tasted like sweet water. At night, the saphouse was a haven of warmth from the fires and the smell of cooking syrup. I found a video on YouTube if you are interested in the process. It is an art to make really good maple syrup.
One of my favorite treats from this time of year was Jack Wax. To make it, your pour the fresh syrup, boiling hot, on the last of the winter snow. We had to go up on the mountain to find clean snow left deep in the woods. My aunt would pack the snow in dishes and we eagerly awaited the time when they syrup was just right to pour into our pans of snow. The syrup does not totally harden to candy but becomes a soft ball of “wax” and eating it is sheer delight. We would eat and eat. I found a recipe for jack wax here at Mother Earth News.
As the Earth begins to quicken in anticipation of Spring, so do our bodies and spirits. Seed and flower catalogues arrive in the mail. I pour over them eagerly and plan what I will plant. I found a great website for ordering herbs and seeds this year. Sand Mountain Herbs. If you love unusual seeds, heirlooms seeds and herbs, check out Larry’s website. I ordered seeds from him and he takes such care to package each group of seeds. All instructions are written on the outside of the package, sometimes even handwritten. He has put a lot of love into his site. There is advice for when to plant and what different herbs are used for. His prices are so reasonable you will want to buy a lot!
It is still the dark time of the year however and there is still “work” do be done as we go within ourselves and prepare for our own transitions. This year, I have had a lot to think about. After my cataract surgery, I can see perfect 20/20 at a distance, something I have not been able to do since 5th grade! It’s amazing! BUT, my close up vision, because of the implants, is terrible. With simple reading glasses, I can read and knit very well BUT, my jewelry making is very difficult. I talked to one of my old instructors about it and she said experiment with creating by touch. There are blind artists you know. I fought this for a few days then decided to try it out. I played with my polymer clay and found that I can do this without so much trouble as working with wire. This may be the path I must take up at this time.
I have a blogger friend, Nan who does these amazing oracle readings with Goddess amulets. We had talked, at Samhain, about an idea I had to make small Goddesses to go with her readings. Initially, I had thought to use polymer clay and stamp designs onto it. As I experimented with my “touch” method, I realized that my tiny figures would be small “sculptures”. I want them to look primitive. I played with colors, the colors of the goddess aspects themselves. This week, I finished my prototypes. I made them into beads at first but I think they do not want to be beads, they want to be tiny sculptures to be held in the hand. I didn’t like the colors. I found I liked the ones I made that looked like stone. I have some photos here. They are terrible of course because the sun refused to come out and help me. The colors look too dark. Tell me what you think. Don’t you like the stone goddesses better than the colored ones? Well, except for the River Goddess. I think she wants to be mostly blue. Anyhow, this transition was not easy for me. I spent 2 months when I could not see at all until my eyes were both done and I could see with 2 eyes then another few weeks fighting to “see” and not “feel”. I am ready to make my 2nd batch now and have confidence that they will turn out much better.
If you are wondering about your own life and transitions, take a look at Nan’s blog and consider getting a reading for yourself with the Goddess Oracle Amulets.
Here are my awful photos of my prototypes of the amulets.
Who am I?
I am a lively Aries lady who lives in a house owned by a bunch of wacky animals.
I am the matriarch of a clan of kids, grands and great grands.
I am a solitary Wiccan whose pagan roots are both Native American and Celtic, strongly connected to the earth.
I am a jewelry artisan, addicted to beads, wire, silver, rocks, stones and minerals. I love working with metal clay, wire and natural stones.
I am a teacher. I’ve learned a lot about stones and minerals and folklore: the history behind the stones. I teach special classes for underpriveleged kids. I teach everyone who asks about the ancient uses of rocks and stones.