Book of Shadows-- January To Do List

Whew! The holidays are over, the decorations are packed away, and the bills are rolling in from all the over-spending and increased heating bills. We won't discuss how much you over-indulged and now your bathroom scale groans when you come near. Right? Right.

Let's get cozy by the proverbial fire, because we darn sure can't afford to go out for a couple of months, can we? Our ancestors suffered similar problems in the depths of winter, when privitation and bad weather weaned out the old, weak and sickly. The dark time of the year from fall equinox until spring equinox was a time of fear. Who would live or die? Would there be enough food in the larder to last until spring?

Huddling around Granny, who'd survived year after year, seemed smart. Granny would happily share her wisdom and teach the survival skills Mama didn't have time to do. Mama was busy employing those skills, but Granny could afford to be patient and instruct the young in the legends and ways of The People. While she stirred the pot on the fire now and then or taught a young one to do so ("Don't forget to stir it sunwise, little one. We want only good blessings, don't we?") Granny imparted her stories and taught the crafts that made a house a pleasant place. Who doesn't love a good story? Granny made all that handiwork time fly by with her tales, and taught valuable lessons.

This is our season of the year. We have many choices now of handcrafts, spinning, yarn work, knot magic, dyeing, magical needlework, and weaving of all kinds available to us. This year, my coven will focus on the art and magic of quilting. For two of us, including me, this arcane science of matching tone, cloth, and shape to produce colorful works of art is an entirely new study. For the others, it's a skill long ago learned and happily shared. I'll be happy to learn something new.

In my own home, needlework was our specialty. The embroidery, cross-stitch, and textile painting filled our evenings. We each took our turn to read aloud while the others plied their needles to create treasures we still own today. When the reader's throat became too parched to continue, another put down her hoop and needles to take up the task while the thirsty former reader wet her whistle with tea and took up her own project.

Many a feminine secret passed between us along with those lovely stories. I miss that time with my daughters now.

Finally, there is the thing only subtly mentioned before that Granny taught-- magick. On cold winter nights when tired men went to bed early or retired to another room to discuss "manly" things, Granny would teach the females the Old Ways.

From this comes our tradition in our own coven of teaching the more esoteric subjects of circle casting, chants, and lore. There are some things that must be experienced in a practical manner, but the theory behind it all must also be explained. Herein lies the time of soul-searching for the daughters or initiates, where they must take the journeys within rather than without. Mama, Granny, and perhaps the High Priestess, are there to assist and encourage, helping the seeker to find her answers for herself.

So, upon occasion, January is also the time of the magickal preparation where ritual robes, the cingulum (belt), amulet bags, altar cloths, and other items may be crafted in place of more mundane items. While most of my ritual clothing would not look out of place anywhere --save for a slight tendency to look like an aged hippy-- I do enjoy enhancing my clothes and altar cloths.

In my own coven, the upcoming Imbolg is the traditional time of Initiation and Elevation. Seekers who have found their answers need no ceremony to grant them what they already have, but we do give homage to the symbology of the moment.

So, take up your favorite craft with good heart this winter. Make a thing to embellish your life and put your peace and contentment in it. Enjoy this time with friends and family. Put on a pot of Stone Soup to share, and have a taste for me.

Comments

I love this. More importantly, it brings back a lot of teaching I learned from my grandfather as he taught me how to cook and learned how to learn the nature of man.

For me, my goal for this winter is to slowly build up to exercising by playing more with my nephew.

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