Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

Since the windstorm of November, I have had this sense that, as stewards of this special place, we needed to find a way to begin the healing process. The evil force of the winds that had so ravaged the forests needed to be banished. I struggled for awhile trying to understand how to do this. Then, several weeks ago, it came to me - a healing ceremony on the Winter Solstice. To cultures around the world, this is a special moment and it would be for us too.

Over the last week we have selected and prepared the spot and collected the items we would need. We found the perfect rock to use as an altar, one that a bear had turned over several months ago searching for grubs underneath. On Sunday, following the trail left in the snow by a large herd of elk, we collected small pieces of all the trees and shrubs so affected by the winds. We moved from pine, spruce, fir and juniper to cottonwood, alder, birch, chokecherry and gooseberry, taking a piece from the broken bodies lying on the ground. From these pieces we prepared a bundle tied with string.

On Wednesday night, the night of the Solstice, we returned to the ceremonial spot. Using blue, yellow and white corn meal, and red chili powder, we marked the earthly directions then laid the bundle in the center. Over it we crossed the shed antlers of a deer and an elk. With just the sound of the creek flowing by we thought about what had been lost but also what would be renewed.

For us in the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year. It also represents the point when we begin our journey back to the light. At this moment, on this spot, resting on an altar picked by a bear, with pieces of plants selected by the elk, the journey has begun.

From Fleur Creek Farm

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