Six months ago I was standing outside on the patio, jar of Bride’s Honey in hand, smiling, silent and serene beneath the radiant Midsummer sun. The backyard was singing with life - bumblebees, birds and insects, flitting, buzzing and pollinating. I was standing in the center of Life, enveloped by the certainty of growth and harvest.
“Can you believe in six months it’ll almost be Christmas and all of this will be covered in snow?”* I turned and said to Italics. We laughed like it was private joke (immortality laughing at mortality), standing side by side as the honey became warm and slick by the summer sun. Winter - death and darkness and frozen cold - felt like something out of a fairytale, something exotic and too alien to even consider when surrounded by a multitude of green.
The Old Woman (aka Cailleach) has been visiting daily for almost a week. The temperature drops, the snow becomes crisp and everything sits in deafening silence until the scratching, whirling sounds of flurries disturbs the hushed cathedral-like atmosphere. I visit Her every day in my wedding dress (a Scottish apron), collecting the snow in the folds of the material, spiritually bagging away the wind, the cold, the frozen, stinging water for future use.
“OLD WOMAN, TEACH ME YOUR MAGIC,” I demanded, and She broke my body. “OLD WOMAN, TEACH ME HOW TO CONTROL THE WIND.” With Her rattling, decrepit lungs She blew Winter’s wind into my mouth as we kissed and the Breath of God ran through me. (It made me sick; bedridden, for over a year. After 28 years of living my body suddenly forgot how to breathe. After 29 years of living I suddenly realized why.)
“BABA, TI-BEH YEAST-TEH,” I call out to Her whenever it snows. (Loosely translated to “GRANDMOTHER, FOR YOU TO EAT”.) We always share a shot of Famous Grouse (Scottish whiskey) and now, more than ever, the amber liquid slides down like medicine (instead of poison; neither Italics or I are drinkers, pot’s 100% our “vice” and anything that remotely tastes like spirits is likely to garner a serious puke face from us).
I make Her a half sandwich because She likes bread and meat (and bones and booze), and both offerings - the shot of whiskey and sandwich - are always set out on one of the patio’s pillars. She shares Her offerings with the birds, She shares Her secrets with me. I occasionally wonder if anyone else feeds Her when She visits, if anyone else goes out to greet Her as She hobbles along. Maybe that’s why She visits more frequently than She did before - someone puts a light in a window for Her.
Six months ago I was newlywed, standing barefoot on the sun-warmed patio with a jar of spiced honey in my hands. Six months later the last traces of the Virgin Bride’s gone, buried beneath the flawless cover of an awe-inspiring wedding veil - a ghostly apparition, a memory, but also a premonition and promise of what’s to come.
(* I knew we’d have snow like I knew Spring would come early. On Midsummer I saw snow covering the yard - the fallen rowan blossoms in the front, the shriveled cow parsley flowers (<- worn in my hair when we performed the sacred marriage rite in a local wheat field) on the window ledge (my kitchen altar). Where ever I looked - even indoors - I saw a delicate blanket of fragile white. “We’re going to have a white Yule,” I informed Italics, but no one else, because it’s embarrassing to get this shit wrong in public (even though I’ve never been wrong).)
(Journal entry via my diary, video via my Flickr feed)