Homecoming

 

“Why do I feel a sense of longing – as if I am trying to find where I belong?”

She replied –

“It is a far memory you seek, it is more than a longing.   It is a journey into your spirit history, the core of your existence.”

-unknown

 

Winds blow at my back as I walk with purpose across frozen snow and ice.   Snowshoes strapped to my feet, ice cleats crunching on the tundra, I breathe deeply into the icy air.   It’s before 7am, and the sun is just beginning to push his way through snow-laden clouds.  Ice pilgrims such as myself stretch out in a lazy line, following the shoreline of Lake Superior towards the frozen sea caves.  For the first time in five years, the caves and lake have frozen, leaving giant stalactites of frozen water clinging to the red sandstone.

The ice pops beneath my feet, shifting as invisible waves move beneath the thick.  Raw beauty stretches for miles across frozen water towards Canada, and the sun begins to kiss a distant island.  Cracks splay out, like thin strands in a spiders web, and my heart stops beating momentarily while fresh splinters move around my feet.

There are few people on the ice this early in the morning.   The silence is familiar, and the tall cliffs, frozen in winter’s grasp, beckon.  The ice is cold, and the air colder still. My hands, frequently out of my thick gloves, are red and sore, as if icy fingers clench my own.  My shadow remains invisible; the sun hasn’t risen high enough in the gray-blue sky to caste my likeness on the ground.   In these moments, I am truly alone.

The winds create an eerie whistle, licking the ice as they move steadily through the caves.   I find myself standing in a burnt red cavern where whirls of different shades of browns and reds caress the billion year old sandstone.    The ice, once brilliant shades of blue water, hangs boldly along the walls of the cliff, reflecting bare sandstone into the abyss.   Small trees cling to the edge, their roots embracing tiny patches of soil while icicles as long as my arms hang from their thin branches.

My face is cold, my bare skin frozen as solid as the ice beneath my feet.  I stand amongst giants of ice and rock and breathe slowly.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.   My heart beats its familiar rhythm, racing through my veins in anticipation.   The sun begins to caste small shadows from the top of the cliff, and the ice at my feet reflects blues and yellows and browns.  My chapped lips begin to curl upwards, as if aware of what is to come.  In a moment of brilliance, my spirit rushes back to me, bringing with it bits of snow and ice and sand and rock.   A collision, filled with the frozen tundra spread before me, fills my entire being, and an audible sigh joins the whistling wind.  The wild spirits of land and water rejoice, and the ancient souls long since gone, release themselves into me.

I am home.

 

 

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

early bright benediction

rays of light undulate through

purple clouds – a cold wind

swaddled

by a sky set ablaze

white blades of grass –

frost hardened from night’s chill,

suffer without complaint

my lungs rise and fall

in steady rhythm –

purging,

embracing

and a raven regards me,

his thundering stillness my own –

with silent affirmation

he flies

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Hades Blaze

…a response to the 2012 Upper Peninsula, Michigan wildfires… 

sand, untouched by rain,

encases naked toes burnt by grainy kisses

cheeks flush flame red, a

days play sun-scorched –

innocent laughter races through smoky skies

sunsets smolder, a horizon engulfed

swallowed by unwelcome heat

jack pines shatter –

their needles as dry as the harsh air suffocating my lungs

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Brighid’s* Rebirth

I find myself deep within the wood, surrounded by ancient pines and young oaks.   Green shoots fight their way through an ice and snow encrusted landscape, their tiny leaves a testament to their desire for life.    Cold winds howl from the north, refusing to let go their grasp on winter, while heavy branches release deep moans into the brisk air.   Pulling my wool cloak tightly around my shoulders, I bury myself deep within the warmth of the thick hood.  Damp lichens cling to wet branches and I close my eyes, inhaling the exquisite aromas of earth.

Kneeling on still frozen ground, my hands cling tightly to the staff in my hand.   It is time-worn, polished smooth by the rough sands and crashing waves of a mighty lake.   My fingers grasp the familiar wood, seeking the grooves that hold each digit in place.    Raising the staff inches from the earth, I begin to slowly and deliberately pound the ground, allowing the vibrations to travel throughout my body.    I continue to pound the earth with hard, strong pulses – forcing my energy deep into the belly of the earth.  My entire being rises and falls, matching the cadence of my staff.   The earth beneath my knees begins to shake and I rise, my green eyes soaking in the wonder of my wood. Magick fills the clearing as spring makes herself known to the hag of winter.

Dawn streaks across the sky, and a woman cloaked in green appears at the edge of the clearing, her power a gentle force as she breathes life into the wood.  Silently, she kneels at the trickle of water at her feet and takes a deep drink of water formed in Gaia’s womb.  Stillness settles in the wild forest as she rises, breathing in deeply the sweet smells of Spring.  Following my worn footpath, she treads lightly through the forest, leaving fresh sprouts of life in her wake.

The earth has settled herself; the vibrations no longer pulsate through my being.    Sighing, I find myself awake, my wool blanket at my feet and cats stretched lazily in warm sunbeams across my bed.  A dream.  I rise, filled with an inner peace, and smile.   Winter is half over.

*Brighid is the Celtic Goddess of Spring

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Northern Solitude

Lured by solitude and

promises to mend lost souls,

my body, beaten down by stress

traverses frigid Superior waters surrounding rocky shores

– anxious to put foot to land

Like mythical sirens

she rises from the inland sea,

her song, carried by wind’s gentle breath

blows low and soft,

catching wisps of hair around my tired face

Restless muscles ache to carry their weary owner down dirt trails,

eyes already straining to see night stars dance in the clear vastness that arises

above the work-worn traveler;

loons call in the distance

– patience, patience, my body silently chants to itself

Time passes and finally

footsteps, strong and familiar with the earth below,

beat in rhythm to the ancient drums of my northern solitude –

Pulsating, my spirit has come home.

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter’s Veil

Cailleach*, Goddess of Winter, has arrived on brutal winds from the north.   Embracing the cold, I head deeper into the woods on snowshoes that glide across the land.    White pines tower over my head, their boughs so high that only an owl would find them suitable.    Branches, laden with the brilliant whiteness of snow, clasp to age-old trunks.   Trees snap from the inside, their song an ode to the winter gods that claim them.   Wind moans through hundred-year-old limbs; twigs are tossed to the side as the Hag moves through the wildwood.

Born months ago, she continues to pound the earth with her staff; ensuring winters grasp to be cold and deep.  Snow has fallen steadily for hours, reminding the forest folk of deer and coyote of her constant presence.  Birds, silent except for an occasional twitter from the Redpoll, flit nervously from tree to tree, searching for food.

I pause beneath the mighty trees of my forest, and a calm descends upon the small clearing.   Winds cease their howling.   Branches still.   My breath, cold and wet, freezes upon impact with the hoary woman’s frigid exhalations that kiss my face.   The mighty power of the Death Goddess, old Cailleach herself, surrounds me.   In Ireland and Scotland, she is Ancient Earth, a powerful entity.   She rules the land, ushering in winter and spring as she sees fit.   The blue-faced hag watches over the culling of old growth, green that is no longer needed.   All the while she shakes her blankets, covering the land in snow.

Awareness not felt in many years begins to creep into my being as I stand atop a tree felled by wind years ago.  Reindeer moss hangs from branches.   Lichens cling to nooks and crannies found within the bark of a tree.  Wintergreen pokes its stubborn green head through the snow.  Tiny seeds of new life sit in the lap of the wise woman, protected from certain death.

Beneath many layers of warmth, my skin begins to pucker as arm hairs become electric.   Warmth courses through my veins, calming my restless spirit.  Perched precariously on a mound of snow and log, I stand, strong as the pines around me.  My eyes close as light bursts through the clouds.  Cailleach, ancient crone of wisdom, encircles me, wrapping me in her plaid blanket as heavy snow falls from the branches above.

My eyelids snap open and intense sageness as true as the snow fills my being. Born of my blood, Cailleach lives within me; I am the old woman, just as she is me.   Entwined with ancient earth, I am the blue hag.

*Cailleach is pronounced (KAL-y-ach)

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.