Re-connection

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January has been a month of dis-connection.  I’ve felt detached from the season and disengaged from the creative spark.  Though I’ve produced work and developed new ideas, my creativity has lacked enthusiasm.  January has been a drab month.  The sodden ground, patches of mud and still-rotting leaves make the world reminiscent of the morning after a party, the sad leavings after the festivities of Yuletide are long forgotten.

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Last year, January was dominated by snow, before rain and gales ushered in Candlemas.  This year there has been mud.  Not the crisp, quiet winter days I hoped for.  Nor the glitter of frost on the ground.  Just mud.  January has been the wettest on record in some parts of the country and areas in the south have been flooded for weeks.  The rain and gales have arrived once more to herald the new season, but there have been few lovely winter days to precede them.

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Walking the dog in the hours before dawn, I’ve experienced the best of January.   At this time, the world is silent, except for the racket of the blackbird, whose voice is amplified in the darkness.  The sky is a glowing royal blue, the stars and planets still visible.  It’s a time of potential, when the thick darkness hides imperfections and the day might go any way it pleases.

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But there have been other moments of connection.  A Monday morning walk, hinting at spring.  The air is cold but radiant with sunshine.  I hear the grating call of the magpie, a robin trilling on the path ahead of me, the high pitched cries of Little Gulls.  I watch the clumsy shuttle of a Moorhen and mallards floating leisurely or curled among the reeds.  It’s a peaceful, sleepy day holding the promise of what is to come.  And then, a Friday morning, the most beautiful sunrise of the year so far:  mackerel clouds lit with bright swathes of colour.  And then, walking in the drizzle, under a misty sun, listening to the hollow patter of rain on the trees.  And then…

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Re-connecting with nature at this time of year is about paying thoughtful attention, looking closely to see buds on the trees, plant stems studded with tiny new leaves, shoots among the mud.  It’s seeing the signs of spring in the drear of winter, like the husk of a nest in the skeleton of a tree.  It’s having patience and sensing the beauty that exists beneath the mud.

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Candlemas begins at sunset tomorrow, when we emerge from the cocoon of winter and re-connect with the living earth growing beneath us.  Witches commonly call this festival Imbolc, an old Celtic word thought to mean ‘in the belly’, but I’ve always found the Christian term of Candlemas more evocative.  The name derives from it being the day in the year when all the church’s candles were blessed.  And here too is a connection, in the recognition of the importance of the return of the light.

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Re-connection is also about re-dedication.  Candlemas is a festival for initiation and re-dedicating yourself to your chosen path.  All of the festivals are a way of re-connecting.  We might forget in our daily lives, but these days are points on the calendar to remind us.

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This month, I’ve written two new stories, but I’ve also re-connected with some that were forgotten.  Stories that began months or years ago.  Some are just a couple of sentences, others a few pages.  Left neglected, either because I couldn’t see a way through them at the time, or because other projects took over.  One of the joys of writing is to return to something you’ve written and be surprised by how good it is.  Each of these stories has potential.  The ideas for where they will go and how they will end are already re-igniting my enthusiasm.  Candlemas leads us into the incubating time, when we plant the seeds of the ideas we honed after the winter solstice and plan how we will nurture them.  The fragments of the stories I’ve rediscovered are some of the seeds I’ve sown.

42 thoughts on “Re-connection

  1. Hello Andrea, thank you for visiting Dancing Beastie. What a pleasure to find someone else who is both a writer and a close and appreciative observer of the natural world: who feels its magic and appreciates the ancient, spiritual rhythms of the year. What a gift! I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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  2. January has been a rather unproductive month for me as well. So little sunshine in my neck of the woods. Far too much grayness. I’m hoping I’ll find a renewed energy in February, which, I guess is an hour and 20 minutes away my time. 😉

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  3. ‘The sodden ground, patches of mud and still-rotting leaves make the world reminiscent of the morning after a party,’ I love this, Andrea. Sorry that January has been so drab – of course it’s the opposite here, but with school holidays I lost my creative drive too. Great that you’ve got plenty of projects underway, keep revisiting those old pieces of work – you may find some forgotten treasure x

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  4. I like to connect with the rhythm of nature as well but I can’t wordify it as well as you can Andrea. But you can appreciate that, like the trees, plants, birds etc. you need time to rest up, times when you’re not creative but are preparing to be so.
    Strangely I’ve been on fire these last three months so I’m clearly not as in sync with the seasons as I think I ought to be!

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    • Thank you Roy – you sound as though you’re in the midst of a ‘creative maelstrom’ – that’s where I was just before the end of the year and it’s wonderful while it lasts, but you’re right, you do need the balance of some quieter time.

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  5. We have had a colder than average winter with more snow than normal as well. While this weekend has been mild and sunny, rain moves in tonight and then will change to snow in early morning. We could see 4 to 6 inches of snow by afternoon. It’s been a difficult winter for connecting or reconnecting so far.

    The days are noticeably longer, though, and a sign that spring will come, no matter how bleak the days currently seems. Maybe February can see that creativity bud out as do the leaves on the trees.

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    • I’ve seen some of the storms over there on the news – much as I would have loved some snow, I feel for the difficulties that there have been over there – as well as those here who have had so much flooding. I love to have some definition to the seasons, so, of course, I don’t wish extreme weather on anyone, but it’s seemed such a forgettable month in our area!

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  6. I feel so bad for that dreadful winter over there..I know my family is complaining about it and asked me to stop sharing photo’s from here 😉
    “re-dedicating yourself to your chosen path”.. I like that
    Beautiful sky pictures, Andrea!

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  7. January has always been a long and dreary month for me. Your beautiful post and photos provides me with the confidence that February will be brighter!. Oh, reconnecting with old stories, it’s like running into an old friend and catching up…enjoy!

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  8. I was in high school when a friend took me to the blessing of the candles at her church. It was a late evening, quiet ceremony that I still think of with great affection and respect. As we left the chapel, we were each given a small, blessed candle to take with us. When we needed a reminder of the light within us, we were encouraged to turn off the lights around us, sit quietly, light the candle and feel gratitude for the blessings in our life.
    I carefully chose when I lit mine and for how long I let it burn, and it lasted for several years.
    Thanks for a lovely post, Andrea, and the memories it nudged awake!

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  9. I managed to get out for a walk this weekend and really enjoyed reconnecting. The snow and ice can keep me trapped inside for days and it was lovely to be back out amongst the trees and water. I love the way a half frozen brook looks and sounds. 🙂 Sorry you have so much mud there. Not pleasant for walking.

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  10. Andrea, I love this post. For one thing, you have taught me what Candlemas means, as I never really understood what it meant. I always thought it was the term used in medieval times for Christmas! I love that it is a time of quiet nurturing.

    I’m glad that you have been able to enjoy some lovely walks, but I do agree with you, it hasn’t been a real winter at all. Barely any frost, just wet and mud everywhere and no end in sight. I also have not seen my robin yet 😦 However, I have a little story that I will share in a blog post shortly about that…

    I am so glad that your creative spark is returning and that you are revisiting some other pieces of writing as well as creating new ones. I look forward to reading more and seeing where this all takes you as this season unfolds.

    Beautifully written post as always, and lovely photos, thank you for helping me take some time out to take pause and a deep breath…

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    • Thank you Sherri. I love the thought of all those candles being blessed. The Christian festival itself, as I understand it, is when Mary was purified after giving birth to Jesus. Apparently women were considered unclean after giving birth and had to wait 40 days after giving birth to a boy and 60 after giving birth to a girl. That’s the less palatable aspect of it for me, considering women unclean, though in its broader sense it’s about purification, which is also an aspect of the pagan celebration. Our mud seems to be drying out a little now, so I’m hoping the landscape will come to life a bit – I’ll look forward to reading about your robin!

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      • Yes, it is a lovely ceremony although I’ve never been to one like that. Mud, mud, mud everywhere!!! Oh won’t it be nice when it all dries out 🙂

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  11. Dogs really are so wonderful for getting us out there to enjoy those mud-filled moments! That’s great that you’re enjoying some of those scents and sounds of spring. Spring has a way of getting that writing going again. I’m looking forward to that kind of a reawakening too!

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  12. I enjoyed the piece. It helped me to remember some mornings when I used to get out and walk or bike. It also reminded me of the times I used to go camping. Waking up in the morning and being cold, but enjoying the surroundings.
    Thanks.

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  13. It’s funny, I’m not usually conscious of Winter being a time of incubation or sowing seeds that will sprout later, but it usually does seem like, creatively speaking, I produce a lot of work during December and January but don’t tend to share it, or reap it perhaps, until the later months.

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    • Maybe you’re following the cycle without consciously doing so. The equinox is the real time for action, so it will be interesting to see if that’s when you begin sharing what you’ve worked on over the winter months. I’ve also produced quite a bit of new work, but the times when I’ll be submitting for competitions and the like coincides with the real beginning of spring towards the end of March.

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  14. Our early music choir sang a Vespers for Candlemass. It’s service that hasn’t been sung in our town for more than a hundred years. All the music was pre-1630, primarily plainchant. We had incense, bells and, of course, loads of candles. The people that came to listen were not necessarily all practicing Christians, but from the feedback we had afterwards, everyone found it very peaceful and uplifting.

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      • As you’ve said on your blog, the Early Christians drew on much of the existing pagan symbolism and ritual, re-adapting it to their faith. I particularly love the Celtic branch of Christianity, as it draws in particular on this, also having a respect for nature. I believe they use the Wild Goose to symbolize how impossibly unpredictable and untameable is the Holy Spirit.

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      • Yes, when I first got involved in paganism there was a lot written about how Christianity had taken over the early festivals. I love to see the way these beliefs and rituals have evolved and I’m very relaxed about the beauty of all religions.

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