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Welcome, Winter Travelers, into the cave of the Mother.

We are at mid-Winter, named Imbolc by our land-aware ancestors. In our common culture, it is known as Groundhog Day. We are still deep within the cave, the dark night, the womb of the Mother. We have been dreaming, embracing shadows, dissolving into the soil of the earth, of our soul, planting seeds. We are still; we are conserving energy as we feed our inner fires. Outside, the sun has only just begun to rise higher in the sky affecting the light of day. We might feel stirrings beginning, shadows transforming into seeds, our doubts drifting and truths growing roots. We are tempted by these stirrings to crawl out of our caves. We are not ready. The dark is still our friend. When we crawl out too soon, seeds wither from lack of care and they will not bear fruit.

During this descent, safe within the cave of the Mother, I approach a deeply scarred and scared child-self. She lives and breathes deep in the shadows of the cave. She is fraught with fear. She holds every belief and experience of any possible harm that can come from outside and that had come from those whom it made sense to trust. She feels isolated, alone and separate. The grief she experiences comes in uncontrollable sobs that make language impossible. I wrap my body around her. I know there are no consoling words I can offer. I feel the warmth of my heart. My deep fires of love, passion and courage flame bright. As my fires expand beyond my body, I sense them encompassing and warming the coldness of isolation the child holds close. Gradually, without imposition, my warmth of love begins to melt the ice within her. The waters begin to flow freely. Slowly she is able to turn toward me, and as she faces me within embrace, she receives my comfort. We are floating in the warm, healing waters that once was the ice of separation.  

The cave, the womb, the Motherblood provides the sustenance we require — if we are willing to receive — so we may comfort the child of our fears. To think we are totally alone in the darkness will ruin us with despair. To feel the cave walls emanating love and protection, reminds us we are not completely alone even though we are solitary in our journey. She protects us as we do the quiet alchemical work of dreaming change, planting seeds, nurturing growth. We are reminded to have patience, embrace our innocence with love and trust our unfolding and create new stories.

And now, come sit with me for awhile within my wintry cave. Snuggle into the pillowy softness and warmth of my dark, underground sanctuary. Sit in circle with me while I tell you a story of Horse, Badger and Oak.

And so it begins on a clear day on the plain. The sky is open with blueness and the breeze is gentle. The expansive plain undulates as far as the eye can see. For a moment, there is only the soft sighing of the breeze over the sparse grasses that thrive on the hard, rocky earth. From far away, a ground beating sound approaches. The sound is rhythmic, like a drum keeping time with heartbeats. Louder and louder the approaching thundering becomes a moving form on the horizon. There! The blur of fast moving legs! The flowing flag of a tail! Yes! It is a wild pinto galloping across the plain! She is white with brown splotches. Her mane is a flickering flame of white, red and brown! Her tail extends beyond her rump leaving mirages of where she has been! But oh! Her neck and head are positioned backward! How does she see where she goes forward if her focus is behind her?! Her gait is strong, insistent. She does not stumble or bump into obstacles. She runs with wild abandon until she greets the forest edge and lingers to rest near a mighty Oak. Horse’s head still faces the vast plain and she is unaware of the depth of the forest.

It is at that moment Badger pokes his head out of his deep, underground earth below the Oak. Grumpily, he queries, “What is all that thundering and pounding that has interrupted my slumber?!” And sees the backward-facing pinto nearby. What a puzzling arrangement of anatomy! “Horse! Why is your head oriented in the direction of where you have been? Does that configuration create difficulties in moving forward? Please, share your story with me.”

So Horse begins “ Oh my! I was captured to be tamed and to be used as a beast of burden! Such a frightening experience! There were paws all over me, handling me in ways that felt so unnatural and constricting! I feared for my life! I reared up to get out of reach of the claws that would hold me and tore at the air around me! See the bleeding wounds I suffered! Finally, I was able to free myself and leap over the cage and run as fast as I could! I am amazed I had the energy and strength to escape! Of course, I needed to watch out for any predator pursuit, so my neck and head became fixed in this position for my own protection! I suppose, since the threat has passed, I no longer need to gaze behind me, but I seem stuck in this position! Can you help me?”

By this time, Badger had fully emerged from his tunnel that led to his underground earth and was listening to Horse’s story intently. He pondered Horse’s request for assistance. “Well, i have lived below this mighty Oak a good long while, and not as long as Oak has lived here. Oak has deep roots and tight dense grain that gives it strength.” Badger smoothed his fur over his head and put his eyes upon the roots of Oak. His gaze wandered up and around the trunk, into the branches. He smiled at the strength and beauty of the tree and saw it’s wisdom. Finally, he asked Horse, “I wonder, do you need to be so rigid as Oak? You are Horse after all! Your strength is to move with flexible agility and speed. It would benefit you to look forward instead of back from where you have come.” Horse agreed with this simple wisdom. Badger continued, “Can you not simply turn your neck and your head will follow, pointing you in the direction you are moving?” Horse liked this advice. She stretched her neck and felt the stiffness and tension. It became painful to coax joints and muscles to change position. She screamed out and reared up and, to her surprise, she saw the vast forest before her. She thought out loud, “This forest would provide me with refuge while my wounds heal and I regain my strength after such an awful ordeal.” “Yesyesyes. There is a stream for water, a meadow with sweet grass. Now will you leave me be! I am hungry and need to hunt for a meal! Gogogo.”, and Badger waddled away in search of a juicy meal. Horse called out, “Thank you, Badger, for your help! Maybe I will have a new story to give you when I emerge from the forest.” And Horse cautiously stepped her way between the trees and disappeared into the forest.

And so it is, a story of Horse, Badger and Oak. If I am sure to not pester or annoy Badger, he may collect and share Horse’s New Story when it is ready to be told. That is another day, another circle, another season.           

Thank you for joining me, for lending me your time and your ear. May we all become richer as we create and share our stories, and listen to ones told.

Blessings, from within the dark that is winter. In love and with peace, Lisa