dimarts, de desembre 21, 2004

Alban Arthuan - Winter Solstice (English / Welsh)

Today has been quite lovely, although not quite how I imagined it, or intended it to be. I rose much later than yesterday, eventhough it had been my intention to rise early and accomplish many different tasks. I can't imagine why I thought I would need so much time to do the things I wanted to do, but sometimes time has a way of getting warped in our brains.

In spite of the fact that I didn't really begin the day until 11AM, I still managed to square away all the needful things that needed doing. As evening approached I called my neighbor Judith to see if she had been planning on attending a Solstice obervance at the home of a mutual acquaintance from church.

A side note here for anyone who doesn't know me: I'm a Unitarian Universalist-Pagan, which means I am a pledge giving member of my local Unitarian Universalist Congregation who most closely identifies with Earth-based spirituality.

I had some trepidation about going, perhaps because it was in the home of someone whom I barely know, or perhaps it was the strange feeling I get around her when I see her at church. Nonetheless, I called Judith, and she said that indeed she would be going, so we decided to ride together.

At 7:10 PM, I collected her and we journeyed across the Mohawk to Scotia, the little village that sits like a lump on Schenectady's less seemly rump. The west side of the city is all brown fields where General Electric Land meets old American Locomotive Land, a little island of toxic waste and heavy metals between what had been the Erie Canal and what is now the Erie Canal where it now resides in the trough of the river itself. The only saving grace in this industrial era swath of rotting factory buildings is the original Schenectady, the Stockade, a beautiful city within a city with its collection of outstanding architecture dating from the 17th century to the 20th. Scotia itself is quite a charming little place, a neat and tidy main street that remains relevant and frequented by local shoppers, and nice treelined residential streets with homes ranging from the modest to the very nearly grand.

Melinda's home is on the west side of Scotia, right along the river. It was not what I had expected at all; although I must confess I am not sure what I was expecting. It is, however, a very lovely and stately home almost 70 years of age, well decorated and well organized. Melinda and her husband Dan have done a terrific job of making it feel like a well manicured, stately residence; indeed it feels more stately than it otherwise might given their choice of Christmas decorations and antiques and objets positioned around the house. Moreover, the vibe that I got from Melinda, a woman I would say in her late 50's, was quite different in her home to that which I had felt in other places, notably in church. This too was a welcome and pleasant surprise.

Our Solstice obervance was not organized in any real way, other than the fact that those of us who showed up wanted to do something, wanted to mark the longest night of the year and, in the time honored tradition of our ancestors, welcome back the sun. While the observance was free-form, Melinda is part Native American, one of the local Nations as I recall, and she came at the evening from the point of view of her ancestors, and provided us with a nice base for the evening. I should note also that Melinda is not a fly-by-night student of her tradition; indeed she is an extremely serious devotee of this traditional path, and has studied with many shamans and healers.

To begin, we gathered in their spacious living room and did a sage smudge (where each of us is consecrated with the smoke of burning sage), then cast the circle, as is traditional for Pagans in the world to do today. I was asked to call the center, and to do so in Welsh, which was a distinct pleasure. Next we lit a warm fire in the fire place and made prayer bags, filled with tiny amounts of tobacco which we then placed in the fire, the smoke of the tobacco symbolizing our prayers to the Great Spirit, to God, to the Mother and the Father, to whomsoever, spiraling along the length of the chimney and out into the great world. Finally we sang and chanted, and then opened the circle. We ended the evening with some tea and snacks, and all around good Unitarian conversation. All those present, but one lady, were members of the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady. In retrospect, while the number was small, it was significant for there were seven of us present and participating. There was nothing planned in this, since Melinda had invited a greater number than would have been able to attend. It was just that as luck would have it, there were seven present, and good and willful number to have to do rit.

All in all, while it was not the most moving or spriritual rit I have ever been to, it was nonetheless heartwarming and cheerful, and I will look forward to other rits at Melinda's home.

Ac am beth gweddïais? Do, gweddïais am rywbeth trwy roi y baco yn y cwdyn coton bach yna. A dweud y gwir, gweddïon ni ddwywaith. Y tro cyntaf, gweddïon ni dros rywbeth yn y gymuned; yr ail, weddïon ni am rywbeth mwy personol. Wrth gwrs, gweddïais i am serch fy mynwes, pwy bynnag y bo - os yw o'n bod o gwbl, tu hwnt i'm breuddwydion cùl. Oes ffydd gennyf am y peth? Yn nirgel ddyn fy nghalon, mae'n rhaid imi fod yn onest a dweud nag oes. Collais i bob ffydd amser yn ôl yn ystod yr ysbeidiau panico, felly ar hyn y bryd, dim ond mynd trwy'r symudiadau dwi, heb roi gormod o nerth i'r meddwl yn wir. Ond pwy a wyr? Efallai un dydd bydd serch fy mynwes yn dod ataf oherwydd rhoi cwdyn bach o faco mewn tân. Gobaith, dyna oedd yr unig beth ar ôl i Pandora ar ôl iddi agor cist y cyfrinachau, ond oedd?