Hymn to the Winter Hunt

Winter is nearing its end here as Imbolc approaches, but the howling snows that have returned to Michigan this week make me feel as though we’ve still some time to go. This poem was originally written for the winter issue of Ink & Fairydust, an e-zine of fanfiction, poetry, spiritual writings, and other various creative works. Being that it’s been out for some months, I wanted to finally share it here…

Hymn to the Winter Hunt

When the cold winds from the northwest blow,
When the moonlight casts its silver glow,
When the dark skies threaten snow
T’is then I hear their call.

It echoes through dark forest and fen-
A droning horn- and silence then
That makes the wary traveler ken
The truth behind the squall.

In the icy blasts of wind that cut
Through clothes and doors kept tightly shut
There is a pounding. Do you seek what
Lies out there in the thrall?

The Horned Man on rugged beast
That hunts the boar to make his feast
Or maybe like some darkened priest
Beckons you to heed the call.

To ride on winds above the ice,
To give the greatest sacrifice,
And surrender to that which does entice…
Are you ready for the fall?

Or perhaps, in swirling dark
You’ll fly just like a meadowlark
And find some light, a warming spark
Of truth behind it all.

Take heed, take heed oh you who go
To travel in the ice and snow
For hunters harry you as you go-
Death comes to us all.

Advertisements

Awen: The Three Rays of Light

Another re-posted poem from 2012. I’m still quite fond of this one. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the style it is written in, only that I had a lot of fun with it in high school. Something to research, perhaps…

Awen: The Three Rays of Light

Awen, the Three Rays of Light
Divine radiance shines in all beings.
Hear it, see it, feel its presence.
The wisdom was carved on Rowan staves.

Divine radiance shines in all beings
Discovered by the giant, Einigen
The wisdom was carved on Rowan staves.
Menw discovered the staves in Einigen’s skull.

Discovered by the giant, Einigen
Menw taught the Druids the lore
Menw discovered the staves in Einigen’s skull.
The rays are spirit, inspiration, and illumination.

Awen, the Three Rays of Light
Menw taught the Druids the lore
The rays are spirit, inspiration, and illumination.
Hear it, see it, fell its presence.

The Battle of the Oak & Holly Kings

A repost of a poem I wrote many years ago and had published on my old blog, The Raven & The Oak.

The Battle of the Oak and Holly Kings

A rivalry
Many centuries old
Since ancient times,
The tales were told
Of two great kings,
One dark, and one light,
Who twice a year,
Would heroically fight.
The Holly King,
The darker one,
Ruled the Winter,
The dimming Sun.
While the King of Oak,
Was vibrant and bright.
He reigned over Summer,
The Sun’s growing light.
At Yule they would battle,
‘Twas  an inspiring scene,
And the victory would go
To the mighty Oak King.
But at Midsummer’s time,
With the Sun at its peak,
The Holly King would win,
The Oak King grew weak.
And so it went on,
Year after year,
And the story was told
To all who could hear.
So, honor the Oak King in Summer,
When the Sun’s light is warm,
And the Holly King in winter
And the swirling snow storms.

Thinking About: Initiations / Rites of Dedication

yule lantern

Yesterday, I was finally able to perform my initiatory rite into the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. I’m not able to speak at great length about the ritual itself in this post, but I can speak about my feelings leading up to it, and my thoughts following its completion.

Despite having the materials for the course for the past six months or so, I had done very little of the actual course work. Life sort of caught up with me, and my job, home life, and mental health just did not lend me the time and proper head space I had needed to perform the rite. Thankfully, the quiet spell has seemed to have broken over the past couple of days, and I’m feeling called home once again to my practice, my art, and my studies with the little warm spell we appear to be having.

Strangely enough, it was the rite of initiation that had given me some of the most trouble in the materials I had received- not because of its content or its format or any objections I had with what it would entail. I couldn’t quite place the source of it for those first months- in fact, I don’t know that I realized some of the… oddness I’d been feeling until I was speaking to a friend about the topic this afternoon.

Every so often, I had found myself called to go over it once again. I’d start making the plans and preparing for it, and something would come up: the weather would get bad, I’d have something I had to do, etc. It would be set aside and left for the next time I’d felt the stirring somewhere within me to get back to work.

Yesterday was different. I had finally accomplished reformatting the rite a bit so that it would work with the amount of private space I had and a few other technicalities; it sat in my journal, just waiting to be performed. Yesterday was another of our random January thaws. The sun was bright and we were nearing forty or fifty degrees Fahrenheit rather than the bitter 10’s and 20’s that are typical of this time of year. I felt it on my way in to work that morning; something was stirring. By the time I was home for the afternoon, the desire to be outdoors and working on something was burning within me.

And something spoke to me then: the initiation ritual. And after months of trying to plan it out, to perhaps contact other local-ish OBOD members to assist me in performing it, to make sure everything was prepared… I decided simply that I was going to go through with it, and quickly gathered some incense and a candle and my journal, and headed out to the small grove of pine and cedars that has been my sacred space for over ten years…

The ritual was nice, pleasant, it brought me back to a sense of being at home- on my land, within my being, in my spirituality… But as I was walking inside after its completion, and as I was talking to my friend this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think that initiation and dedication rites are never quite as profound as we expect them to be.

herne candle

I find I’m always, on a certain level, expecting the ritual itself to be the eye-opening, awen-inspired moment of “Ah-ha! I understand completely, and now everything will start to be different!” But as I reflected upon my journey to the rite itself, and upon the lessons included with the ritual in my course materials, I realized that the true initiation had begun long before I had stepped out the door that afternoon.

Initiation and dedication to a specific path happens not in the single moment of a ritual. They begin within us before a circle is drawn or a candle lit. The shift of paradigm has occurred before the rite; the rite is merely a formality, a means of affirming that which we have already long known to be true. The epiphany is not a new paradigm or state of being, but a realization that we have arrived at this new place some time ago, and can now acknowledge and celebrate it.

For me, that shift started back some seven or so years ago, when I first saw the Green Man staring up at me from the pages of a book, and I started upon my discovery of Druidry. It was there in my discovery of the OBOD’s countless open resources, the befriending of other members of the order, the books, podcasts, YouTube videos, music, etc. that I found resonated with me- which were created by members. A shift had occurred the day that I purchased the Bardic Grade course, and again on the day I received the first packet of gwersi in the mail. What happened in the grove yesterday was merely me finding the voice to affirm and speak aloud the truths that had been in my heart for years. And now, the journey deeper into my studies continues.

What are your experiences with initiation rites or dedication rituals (be them to a new path, deity, etc.)? Share, if you’d like, in the comment section below.

Blessings of the Winter Forest,
Rachel