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Greetings Winter Cave Dwellers and Anticipators of Spring,

Wasn’t February challenging? It brought me to my knees in so many ways. Within the cave, I felt death: a deepening into the dormant land and a shattering of civilized stories. I am now feeling a quickening, a birthing coming, as weather warms and snow melts. It’s a liminal place of anticipation of what will come. What has died in you that has made space for new stories? What new story are you cultivating?

She travels deeper within the Mother Cave. The tension of the walls close around her, propel her through the blackest dark. She feels held and protected. There is cold. There is snow. She feels it’s chilling touch, soft against her skin. She hears Water before she see Her. Water calls to her, invites her.

She lays her body down in Water’s iciness. The flowing, trickling whispers between the rocks soothe her mind and carry away all worries. She is still and yet she is not. The perimeter of her body tingles and spasms as the water caresses her. Water washes around and over her. Slowly, her mind stills. Her thoughts are like ether and dissolve into the crusty ice that forms on the tendrils that was her hair. She is entering the ether. Her fingers slow in motion and still, forever reach, forever bounce in the undulations around her. The icy stillness slowly creeps in and consumes her skin. Her fingers and toes break away. She leaves them behind. Her arms and legs have become splinters of ice. The bones that once held her body together shatter in the cold. Lifeblood thickens and breaks apart. Her heart quiets. The fires in her belly slowly turn to black coals and dust. Water claims her completely and she surrenders into Her embrace of icy darkness. Water carries her and directs all her pieces between and over the rocks. The force of the water carries the million shards of ice that once was her, and she is no more a body; she is the icy waters. Her thoughts are the undulations over and around rocks; whispers that carry memory of an old story. Her icy shards collect around the edges, mixing with other shards. She is not separate. She is all that is, all that was and all that will become.

We are nearing the end of Winter’s embrace. We are not finished with the journey. We are still dreaming even as we feel the quickening to bloom. To assemble the pieces too quickly may bring setbacks or loss, for the frosts are not done. We are anticipating waking up and what new life that will bring. And we are still within the dream even as we feel the approach of Spring Equinox, that point of time in balance with light and dark, day and night. I am feeling the gentleness and the tension of that energy approaching as the snow slowly melts.

When we were called into Winter’s Cave, She invited us deep within the Land and into our soul. We chose or we didn’t choose. Sometimes we step into Her. Sometimes we are propelled. Whatever the circumstances, the cycle carried us and we were asked to surrender to the dark journey and crawl through the labyrinth. Along the way elementals, animals, plants — the inhabitants who embody the wisdom of the land — became our allies and teachers. We remembered our wild senses that have lived within our bellies for eons. True sight has been born: a perception born from the Land, from the Well, the Otherworld, the Wildworld. We lost our “civilized” self in Her embrace and returned to our true Wild Self. We willingly laid ourselves down and allowed Her to shatter us, to splitter our illusions of the Wasteland above.

Cycles. Each cycle expands into the next. Cycles of claiming. Cycles of un-knowing. Cycles of re-membering. Each time we listen deeply to the Land, we allow stories imposed on us to die, and we open to re-membering the wild stories: the whispers among trees, flitting sparkles in the air, the icy gurgling of a winter creek, the pungency of ripe earth, the comfort of green moss between the legs and the howls of many wild voices. This is the home we carry in our bellies, the home we are re-membering as we allow the dis-membering of the illusion that once overwhelmed us.

And now, sit in circle within my cave and gaze into translucent waters with me, and vision. And I will share more of Horse’s story….

…..So, leaving behind the open prairie, leaving Badger to hunt his meal, Horse faces forward and enters the forest. It is dark in the forest. The canopy is both comforting and disarming as the leaves touch her ears and she feels the branches comb her mane. Horse steps cautiously, carefully along the soft path between the massive tree trunks. She had not ventured far and Oh! Horse halts suddenly. She spots a pair of soft eyes. Then a pair of very large ears. Doe steps out from behind a tree and, with curiosity, asks “What brings you into the forest, Horse?” Horse is startled, cautious. “Well, I am seeking a place to rest and heal after my horrible ordeal on the other side of the prairie.” Doe inspects this guarded creature. She lowers her head and paws the soft earth, watching Horse through raised lids. Doe replies, “Well, you have come to a safe place. And I can lead you to a meadow where you can rest. I know this forest well. Will you follow me?” Horse studies Doe. This lithe brown creature has spoken softly and maintained a safe distance. Horse ponders the offer as she arches her neck. “Well, since I am not familiar with forests and you seem to be a creature sure of this place, I will follow you to the meadow you speak of. I am weary and look forward to a good long rest.” Doe dips her head in response, turns and leaps down the trail. She stops for a moment, looking back to see if Horse is following. Horse steps cautiously sideways and tentatively dances down the trail, following, keeping Doe in sight.

After a while, they come to an opening in the trees that leads into a meadow of sweet grass. Doe leaps through the opening, across the meadow and disappears. Horse tiptoes into the center of the inviting meadow. The smells tickle her nostrils. The warm breeze soothes her skin. The gentle light relaxes her eyes. The soft melodies of forest birds mesmerize her. Slowly, her legs fold under her and she collapses among the grasses and flowers. She sinks into the soft earth. She lays her chin down on the soft ground. The grasses weave together over her. The land seems to rise and consume Horse as her eyelids droop and she welcomes sleep and surrenders to dreaming.

In the darkness, the chill air descends. The birds have stopped their melodies and retreated to warm homes. The grasses are brown and the flowers wilted. Crystalline sparkles float in the air and snow falls like cotton. The icy flakes collect in all the crevices and creases in the meadow. Slowly, the forest is blanketed with Snow’s cottony softness. You’d barely notice where Horse is snuggled. She has become absorbed into the landscape, a low white mound among other undulations in the meadow. And there Horse sleeps a deep sleep, an otherworldly dream sleep. She is still under the white blanket that embraces her and she feels no instinct to move. Dissolving into the comfort of the snowy meadow, Horse dreams of open expanses, of her encounters with Badger and Doe. She dreams of where she might become among the herd from which she was disconnected. She dreams under Winter’s blanket for a very long time that is also timeless.

And so, there she lay in Winter Dreaming, cozy under the snow blanket.

And so it is with Horse for now. My eyes grow weighted and my voice has diminished to a whisper. Let us all curl up together and close our eyes for awhile and sleep. When we wake, I will continue Horse’s story. Until then, dream of the possibilities of a new season……

Blessings from within the Forest, Lisa