Ten of us gathered on a frigid night, 9º F, with a wind chill many degrees below zero.
Clouds were racing across the sky, hiding and then revealing the big, silver moon.
Full Moon Snow Labyrinth
We were bundled up, thus able to take the time we needed for this snow labyrinth experience. Candles in lanterns made of ice cast a warm glow across the snow, as we followed the winding path.
Labyrinth Ice Lanterns
At the center, we each paused to look at the moon and reflect on the journey.
At the Center of the Labyrinth
Right after we left the labyrinth, a coyote howled in the woods nearby.
That set us to howling, too!
This evening I will gather with women friends outdoors to walk a snowy labyrinth illuminated by ice lanterns and the full moon. What could be more magical for this weekend of Imbolc / Candlemas / Brigit’s Day? This full moon will arrive at perigee, the place on its non-circular orbit when it’s at its closest point, a distance of 221,577 mi. (356,593 km.) from Earth. It will be the biggest full moon of 2010. The moon will exert a strong pull on the ocean tides at this time. Pause, close your eyes, quiet your self: as a watery creature, can you feel the moon’s pull?
On Sunday, we of Caim an t’ Stratha of the Céile Dé will gather with members of a nearby Catholic church to weave Brigid’s crosses with locally gathered rushes. In the Celtic calendar, Imbolc brought the first harbingers of Spring, but now my snowdrops are under snow, and an Arctic front has given us bone-chilling temperatures. It’s a time for hearth and home. Light some candles, for the light is growing. It’s good to know that the snowdrops are there, awaiting their time.
Deirdre, a Facebook friend, recently posted this photo of a challah, which is a braided bread often part of the meal on Fridays in Jewish households. Looking at the photo, I can almost taste the crunchy crust and smell the delicious aroma of home-made bread. The challah was made by her daughter, Elisheva, age 11. On her flickr page, Deirdre wrote, “We had one [a challah] last night with dinner and one this morning as french toast. We are not religious, but we still usually have a special meal, with candles, wine, and bread, on Friday nights.”
“Special.” The word jumped out at me. Ellen Dissanayake, in her books What is Art For? and Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why, describes art not as a thing but as a process, the process of “making special.” She considers “making special” a fundamental human behavioral tendency along with speech and tool-making/using. She writes, “Moreover, one intends by making special to place the activity or artifact in a ‘realm’ different from the everyday.” (What is Art For?, p.92, emphasis in original.) Dissanayake also relates this aesthetic process of “arting” to human play, ceremony, ritual, and its importance to our human evolution. Sacred play.
Deirdre’s daughter’s bread was made for their “ritual” Friday night meal, and the wine and candles beautifully round out the specialness of the event, which is set apart from everyday meals. Warmth and beauty, connection and sustenance: the bread by which we live.