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Pregnant with Possibilities: a Solstice Meditation – Welcome to Mother Grove

By H. Byron Ballard

We live with a vaguely Christian cultural overlay that begins to smother the natural quiet of the resting season as early as August. By mid-November, every retail establishment has “Christmas” music as well as smart packets of colorful, nutritionless candies set within tantalizing reach. Mary and Jospeh and Santa and Rudolph and the Elf on the Shelf jostle for space in our pocket books and in our hearts.

Bah, humbug.

In this Darkening Time, we know we are invited by nature and by deep tradition to turn our gaze inward—to healing, to grief, to the ghosts that have taken up residence in our memory. But there are families and co-workers with whom we must engage and there are gifts we must make or buy. Decorations come out of the attic or basement and our season of delicious rest is shredded by the observation of a holiday that is drained of meaning in the colander of our consumer-driven and defined culture.

Let’s take a moment now to breathe deeply and turn our thoughts inward, if only for a little time.
There is often a pregnant woman at the center of Solstice-time stories—the one best known in the US is the Blessed Mother Mary, “great with child.” Let’s imagine ourselves in this regenetrix role but instead of birthing the Sacred Child of Renewal, let’s practice some radical self-care. Let us ponder what we want to create in the doorway of a new agricultural year.

I invite you to squeeze out some time in the next few days to light a candle, build a fire in the firepit or throw another log on the cozy hearth in your living room. Settle in and ground yourself in whatever way works best for you. Let your gaze rest on the flames as they stretch and spit and dance. Bring your mind to a place of expectation and allow yourself to come to the new and wonderful idea that is even now positioning itself for birth.

You may see yourself in the heart of the flames forging a renewed and more authentic life for yourself. Let your mind return to the time in your life when you looked into the future and understood what the phrase “looking forward to something” clearly meant. 

We are living in a world roiled by change and violence and cataclysm. Find your own deep grounded space and make it the forge for your creating, for the birthing of this new world that is you. You have traveled down the path of expecting and have come, at last, to the place of birth.

May the fruits of your creative womb bring joy and some wisdom into this needy old world.

A Circle Cast for the Winter Solstice

Because we are “inviting back” the Sun, we began this circle cast in the fiery South. Feel free to add in the geographical elements that are in your part of the world.
Invocation of the Directions
South–I call out to the living fire of the South and invoke its power in bonfires and cookfires, in soft candlelight and fierce conflagration. Bearing both heat and light, contained in the woodstove, feral on the dry autumn hills. Warm fires of the South, we honor you this Solstice night. Be welcome!
West–I call out to the liquid West and invoke its power in the oils that feed fire. Coal oil pulled from the face of the mountains, kerosene lamps to read in the evening, tallow of slaughters to light the way. Western flame of lamp and heater, we honor you this Solstice night. Be welcome!
North–I call out to the solid North and invoke its power in the hot springs of far Madison. A micro-climate sweetened by the fiery heart of the Earth herself. Steam and wrinkled fingers, cares are left in the healing waters of the hot springs. Beautiful north, we honor you this solstice night. Be welcome!
East–I call out to the mists of the Smoky Mountains and invoke the power of the smoke of campfire and burning leaves. The wind carries the smells to us from miles away, gathering all the scents–of wet earth and skunk and incense on the altar. Deep breath of East, we honor you this Solstice night. Be welcome!

Circle release
East–We watch the woodsmoke move along the valley, always following beauty. Grandmothers of the East, go if you must. But lend us your scent of freedom a while longer, if you will. So may it be.

Happy Bellies Food Pantry
Mother Grove is collecting items for our food pantry. Please bring a donation of nonperishable food items, toiletry items, or pet food to any temple event, or drop off your donations at Asheville Raven & Crone. Please contact us if you are in need.

Wheel of the Year Fundraiser
This community has been so supportive of your Goddess temple–blood, sweat, tears, canned goods and monetary donations. Although we love our tiny downtown chapel, the dream has always been to Raise The Temple. We are, therefore, beginning our land quest in earnest this year. This GoFundMe will take care of our annual expenses so that the Green Circle can focus on the land. We invite you to support the new effort by supporting the work of Mother Grove, the day-in-day out of food pantry, classes, public rituals, workshops, newsletters, supplies, Sunday morning programming, Full Moons, Young Maidens, Maya Angelou Peace Garden and Women’s Wellness Center, and all that Goddess-related and community-supporting jazz. Here’s a way you can do that. With our gratitude and respect.

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