New Moon Vows

In Bluestar we have a tradition of taking vows at the new moon and at each hinge. The point of the vows is to give voice to our goals and impetus to work on them. Sometimes they are more mundane but we try to keep them focused on spiritual growth. The new moon vows are supposed to be vows that can be completed in a lunar cycle whereas the hinge vows are vows that can be completed in a hinge. We like to talk about them as being S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound. All of these things give us the focus for the words we use and the intent we put behind it. For example someone might vow to meditate for 15 minutes a day. That meets all of the criteria. Solving world hunger does not.

Most recently at our open New Storm Moon celebration I vowed to reach my step goal, 10,000 steps, at least 4 days a week. I have been focusing on improving my health and treating my body like the temple it needs to be for the gods and I thought that would be a good place to put the right foot forward so to speak. Turns out that I might have expectations that are not realistic for my current strength and stamina. It is really hard for me to reach that 10,000 steps in one day if I am doing the other things I need to do to take care of myself.

It is important to realize when you have set yourself on a task that is not Achievable and to then change your expectations. It is not a failure. It is an important learning lesson. Just because a vow has been made does not mean that it will be accomplished or that it should.


The Apple Wassail

Orchards all over Minnesota are practicing an ancient tradition this month. I first heard about this from Sweetland Orchards, my favorite orchard and cidery. They sent out an email saying they were going to be hosting a party in the barn and going out into the orchard at sunset with noisemakers to scare away spirits and taking toast to tie to the oldest tree in the orchard.

I had heard of Wassailing before but it was always in conjunction with Christmas or Yule celebrations. To wassail means to go visiting. Apparently southern England has its own still strong tradition of apple wassailing that is visiting the orchards. They would go out to sing songs and pour out offerings to the trees showing the spirit of the orchard what they had produced with the previous year's bounty and asking for abundance in the coming growing season.

The toast puzzled me so I looked into that further. Apparently older traditions would soak the toast with some of the cider to hang in the branches before pouring some out on the roots. Other places hang it in the branches dry. One site even suggested that it was hung for the robins. None were good at explaining the origins of the toast in the branches itself, just that it has long been done that way.

Many English orchard wassailing parties take guns and shoot them off in addition to the noise makers just in case banging on pots and pans and yelling isn't quite enough to scare off any evil spirits. They are serious about the cider making over the pond.

Sweetland Orchards chose to follow many others in long tradition of holding their orchard wassailing on 12th Night or Epiphany. That is by no means the only date to hold this ceremony though. There are advertisements for wassailing from early January thru early February. 

Blessings on the coming growing season and all who benefit from apples growing.


Candle making!

Candle making! In preparation for Imbolc next week, we made candles today. Time to take stock of what we have and assess our needs for the coming year. I love that all day there is warmth and humidity and my house filled with my loved ones.

Candle making is a whole day event. Set up, making, and tear down take about 12 hours. For me it is a labor of love. I take old wax from those whole community and turn it into new candles to use in the future. It is a very tangible way of spreading the light through the darkness and a reminder to me that moving forward means building on what has come before.

Another thing that is very traditional as an activity for Imbolc prep is cleaning of tools. Lapis pulled out our coven sword and gave it some much needed attention. Reorganize the tool cabinet and generally sprucing things up is a great way to start off right.

Imbolc is the cracking of the ice of winter. Our days are perceptibly longer and spring will come soon. Sometimes not soon enough. These are the things we do to prepare ourselves for the coming year.