Friday, December 20, 2013

Earthen Silence & Solitude (20 December 2013)

Tomorrow night is the Winter Solstice, and as such I am at the zenith of this year’s Yuletide Journey, coming to rest in the crèche of my Heart in the darkness that this night portends; awaiting revelations and potential epiphanies.  As chance would have it, I’ve been able to go out for short walks on four different nights this month after work.  On three of these wintry jaunts, I have gone down the rails-to-trails project near town that carries me off into landscapes long imbued by poetic fantasies.  _I have walked down to the arche of all my imaginings of the family known as The Whittiers, and come back with runes of poetic fascination.

Each of these after-work saunters has lasted just over an hour, going there and back again, yet they have silenced my being-in-becoming, drawing me on toward precipices of poetic luxuriance.  I have journeyed creatively into earthen Silence & Solitude; and then come home more deeply centered than I was when I 'left town.'

Wandering out, just beyond the pale of the street lights as the sun has vanished behind cloud-banked horizons, I’ve found my way into a vista where the natural seclusion restores my senses; solitude refreshes the soul.  I have been alone on the trail, most nights; mine being almost the only feet to have left tracks in the newly fallen snow; besides the evidence of raccoons, squirrels and various winter birds.  Alone without being 'lonely;' this is the goal toward which Solitude draws us.  To be quiet in the stillness, external and then internal, without distraction or angst; this is the state toward which an authentic experience of Silence draws us.

While Silence & Solitude can be experienced at any tide of the year, I often associate them most profoundly with the Winter Solstice; with the denuding of the senses that Winter brings and with the deprivations that cold and snow impose on our activities.  To be out walking in the Winterwood is to experience the 'absence' of the sounds of Nature that captivate us at other times of the year—e.g., the rustling of leaves and the singing of the birds that go south for the Winter.  To be out on the hoof in this darkening tide of the year is to experience the vibrant colors that characterized the Summer- and Autumnwood gone from the world.  Yet different colors; a refreshingly grey—white—brown palette – replaces them.  Each season has its own characteristic colours.

I walk along the rails-to-trails project – once a spur of the Pennsylvania Railroad – and marvel at what I do hear: the burbling of water, the crisp sound of the snow being crushed beneath my feet; all amidst an ‘openness’ made possible by the lack of leaves on the trees.  The more ‘muffled’ acoustics of a summerwood walk are gone.  I am in 'the Open;' and yet the darkness encompasses me about as twilight fades and night commences its reign.  Tomorrow night is the longest night of the year.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to a local park where they have a holiday light display.  Thousands of lights!  I walked around the lake in the silence of the afternoon, and felt grounded and resourced in the solitude I discovered there.  I saw only one other person in the park before I left at 4 PM.  There were ducks and geese on the lake, and in the dimming light of the late afternoon I felt almost haunted by memories of experiences I’ve had at that park over the years, with friends and with my parents.  It was that strange experience I sometimes have (perhaps you do, too)_ of being ‘in company’ in my imagination while wholly alone in the silence of a seemingly lonesome place. Yesterday, the lights of the various displays were slowly coming on as I got back to the car; it was an almost eerie animation of the place that spoke of even deeper experiences to come as the Yule comes to a close, once more.

This, for me, is what Winter Solstice is about.  I experience it as a time to embrace the experience of darkness and enter into Silence & Solitude in ever more profound ways.  The experience of the natural world at this tide of the year is conducive to the nurturance of Silence & Solitude.  If we allow that the bleak beauty of the Winter may be reflected within us, and if we let the hubbub that normally characterizes us wash quietly and effortlessly away, it becomes possible to come to rest; a contemplative state, naturalistically considered—in which a restoration of our bodily and spiritual energies becomes possible.

Returning from such walks, I oft find I want to remain in the quiet, so I sit near the Yule Tree and employ the old fashioned looking LED lights in which it is decked as a focus for imaging and meditative centering.  Quieted within, I can then return to work and the world the next day, as well as imagine the next year's poetic and spiritual journey and where I might be led, as the quest for wisdom continues.  So be it.

May you have a Merry Winter Solstice, and a blessed year to come!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A-Runing the Winter Sun (5 December 2013)

 - Montague Whitsel

The silence of Winter has come_
and everywhere my mystic’s pallet
is coloured in Plum Delight,
tinctured of a Mulberry-Sugared Sight.
The White Sun of Winter has come
infusing silence into life’s eaves.
And so I walk amongst naked trees,
my thoughts adorned_
               of Cranberried prophecies.                          1
The leaves no longer rustle on the bough,
but, morbid, process across the sod_
lichens and mosses and fungal beds
receiving them as if visitants
                from sylvan heavens.
Oak leaves breathe their last and fall_
surrendering earthward in rust brown gleam,
knowing in their spent dead cells –
that the Merry-Go-Rounds of Summer
                         are gone.                                           2

The White Sun of Winter has come
to grace us with its silent hum_
striating the skies above with beams
like icicle flares in a dream’s speculum.
Patterning the woodland floor so solemn,
white light pierces tangled copses,
tickling the misguided cares of mortals;
chilling our hidden fears_
rendering them out as dis-spelled sums.                        3

The Silence of Winter has now come
and everywhere my mystic’s pallet
is coloured in Hollyberry light;
tinctured of an Ivy-oracled delight.
Leaves no more rustle
              upon denuded trees;
the ranns of time pass by in threes_
whilst I sing my mustering rune
               to the beat of an earthening tune!                4

Winter’s rhythmed silences are here,
rustling upon the open back porches
where Mabon keeps his rabbits_
ingratiating meaning into life’s sullen eaves.
He walks through a vale of imaginings,
his brow lighted by the Pale, Cold Sun_
as he sings to his rabbits in tunes
all captured of Brown-Sugared prophecies!
                         I sing along_                                       5

Yet leaves no more rustle upon the bough
but, as if mortality’s scion,
   process across the hardened sod_
lichens and mosses and fungal beds
receiving them
like visitants from some old god’s city.
Oak leaves breathe their last and fall_
surrendering earthward in a rusted gleam_
knowing, in their spent, dead cells—
that the Merry-Go-Rounds of Summer
                           _are gone.                                         6

The White Winter Sun has come
with Butterscotch Rum intimations_
having stirred our Frankincense hopes,
applying Myrrh
            to balm our ice-fascinated souls.
Ever-shining in the frosted heavens,
its light seeking out the waylaid
and soul-burdened_
the White Winter Sun proffers gold
Hope hidden within its prolepsis_                                                                             of a New Life to come!                                                7

Leaves no more rustle upon grey boughs,
        but – like a brown-red carpet
for the coming of the Spring Queen –
rune-out patterns with moss and lichens
and the fungal flowers that sleep
       beneath their weathering blanket
all foretelling the coming of New Sun
and the myriad dreams and imaginings
that will flurry forth with it_ suggesting that
       new Merry-go-Rounds of Summer
will one day come.                                                    8

Joyfull, Joyfull_ the New Sun comes,
glistening our souls and the sídhe
with the radiance of Mistletoed hopes!
Gladdening through the slanted blinds
         of ever more freighted lives –
New Sun comes with Sugared Plums
         to put a quick bustle in our steps
and green our sodden hearts;
lifting our eyes towards New Thresholds
as yet dusted with gleaming, icy snow.                        9

Hear the ancient invocation:
“Wait ye now upon New Sun’s Rising.”
So mote it be.