When I buckle down and hammer out headnotes, I get things out more timely; thus, week 3, barely a week and a half overdue!
15: To Glen Echo Run
[It’s very easy, in an urban environment, to lose track of the natural landscape underpinning it all. I was fortunate to be reminded, walking down High St., by a sudden cold, humid patch of air as I walked over the block where Glen Echo Run is diverted into a culvert under the road. It’s still there, waiting.]
River, I feel you.
Though they’ve paved you over,
You announce your presence still.
In the sudden humid chill
That sinks into bones, you exert
Your subtle dominance.
You redraw my mental map,
Tracing delicate blue venation
To underpin my daily life.
I hold that vision close.
Lifeblood, placid carver,
I honor you here.
16: Prayer while waiting for coffee
An Dagda, provider of plenty,
You feed all who come to you
Without stinting, with a broad heart.
May I never lose sight of my fortune,
My relative bounty. But further
May I never lose sight of my ability,
My obligation to share that bounty
With those less lucky.
Great one, may I ever seek
To emulate your hospitable welcome,
Your care for the community,
Your kettle always brimming for another.
17: For safety in travel (to Nehalennia)
Nehalennia, shoreline goddess
of shipping and travel, of safe passages
from port to port,
I call out to you!
Guard my passage as I travel;
conduct me safely to my destination,
clearing obstacles and dangers.
Regal lady, silver-clad
and crowned, may my travel
be as swift as your greyhound,
my landing as sweet
as the apples you hold out.
Gracious lady, may I never fail
in offerings of praise and thanksgiving,
and may I ever look to you
as guardian and protector in my peregrinations.
18: To Sucellos
[Last winter, at a druid moon, we honored Sucellos, who is commonly pictured with a large hammer or mallet, as well as an olla. His name is often given as ‘good striker,’ but has also been analyzed as meaning “provider of good protection” (see e.g. the Wikipedia presentation of Blanca María Prósper’s analysis). At the end of the rite we each took with us a stone to set at our boundaries, for protection. Mine hung around in my winter coat pocket all year until recently, with hate crimes on the rise, I found myself wondering if every rustle in the evening dark was a squirrel, or somebody spraypainting “die fags” on my car or house. That little unassuming rock now has a place at my threshold.]
Sucellos, striker, warder, guard:
To you I present my plea.
A time of strife approaches,
and I am filled with fear.
I set your stone at my threshold,
and touch it as I leave;
may it stand, your ward,
and keep my home in safety.
Be the guard upon my threshold,
and in return accept my prayers and offerings.
19: To Ogmios
[I remind myself that art is resistance.]
For the words you have given to me: hail, O Ogmios!
For the fire that burns in my head: hail, O Ogmios!
For the words that pour like rain from the sky,
For the music that fills my life,
For the awen sweetening my songs with its honey:
Hail, O Ogmios!
20: To my grandparent locust
[You know, that honey locust.]
Old one, strong one, resilient
and withstanding one, hear me.
In spring I wondered at your leafbuds,
pale green and numerous beyond counting,
resurgence of life and growth. I wondered
at the way you straddled ages, old and wise
yet also young and vital, ever-new.
In summer I lingered in your shadow,
hands resting on your bark, tracing
the thick carpet of moss winding
in your grooves, sheltered microcosm
of stem and leaf.
In autumn I gloried in your splendor,
crown of gold and shimmering leaffall
cape of tiny gemlike flutter in the breeze.
Your richness belied the story of decline,
bespoke the turning glory of the seasons.
Now the winter is come
and verve is laid to rest.
I pour this final offering
of the growing season, water pure
to swirl in and through your roots.
May I recall the winter lesson
you have taught: in time of cold
and blight, dig deep and hold
to your roots, breathe and wait,
conserve — and then emerge,
triumphant, in the light of spring.
21: To the Cailleach
[We’ll be honoring her at the solstice, and I find myself thinking about her more and more in her role as a giver of restorative dormancy, both literally in nature and figuratively in life.]
A Chailleach! Windbiter, Bonechiller, Skinfreezer, Blighter, Blueskin, Redfang, Winter Hag and Queen!
A Chailleach! Creator, Purifier, Equalizer, Snowblanketer, Seedkeeper, Lochdigger, Mountainraiser, Winter Hag and Queen!
Now is come the winter; now is come the snow and the chill. Though we shy from it, cringe from the chill of storm and ice, still we welcome you.
Mother of the Gods of the Highlands, we welcome your power; we welcome the renewal you bring beneath the snow that immobilizes us, lays us dormant down.
As we pass into your season, instill in us the patience of the stones.
As we pass into your season, grant us the renewal of the bulbs buried in earth.
As we pass into your season, fill us with the power of your tempest.
And when we emerge, blinking, into the sunlight of Imbolc, do not let us abandon your gifts.
May we carry into the world a vigor ever stronger for hardship, a resolve as implacable as ice over stone, a power of will that casts aside all impediments to the work of justice.
Arise in us, fill us with the magic of siege and storm.
Great and mighty queen, be ever welcome.
Header image: “ART AT GALERIE FRANCANE,” by RAFTWET Jewell/Flickr. CC BY-ND license.