Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

The White Stag

by Aethnen - January 18th, 2009.
Filed under: Meditations. Tagged as: , , , , , , .

Synopsis:

To be done alone or in a group, you can use this meditation to take you exactly where you need to go most–by following the mythical and deeply symbolic elements of the ancient Northern Winter Solstice.

Materials:

Pine-tree incense
1 red candle per person
Mistletoe

Consider:

What does rebirth mean to you?

Finding your Place:

As you hold this thought in your mind, gently wiggle your left leg first, shaking off your present awareness. Now wiggle your right leg. Feel the muscle moving as your brain tells it to. With both feet centered on the ground below you, firmly plant your feet into the world below you, but do not lock your knees. Stand as though you were a tree, old and long rooted to the earth, but with a trunk bendable and kind to life’s winds. Now wiggle your fingers. Feel a gentle energy rise up through your legs and stretching into your tips. Wiggle your arms now. There is no need to be energetic about it. Roll your shoulders and neck three times. The third time, your posture will fall into a place of self awareness. Be comfortable with the space about you, well enough to know that if you sat down with your eyes closed, you would not need to look. Take one small step back, stepping into a soft sense of being. Nothing is sharp. Nothing is pungent. Nothing is disturbing. All is soft and moldable around you.

***

Entering the Mist:

This softness of being feels a mist rising from the ground, like steam off a hot bath. You feel the mist but are not too aware of it; it is just on the edge of awareness. Know that the mist makes swirls in the air, makes coils that wrap themselves around you like a blanket. You feel warm. Safe. The mist is crawling higher. There is nothing to be seen except the calm waves of mist and your own breath moving in and out. The mist becomes your own breath as you inhale and exhale it. Your body has been slightly aware of the mist all this time, but now your spirit can feel it, as you take it into yourself, making it part of your body and part of your very essence. This is an in-between place, this place full of mist …. Anything can happen here, for it is in the mist that the elements of air and water combine.

A smell suddenly wafts to your nose. Evergreen trees. Ghostly shapes of green needles and rough bark press through the mist that is now clearing from the ground. Only a shifting blanket of mist is left that slowly drifts into the tree tops. You are left in the twilight of a pine forest. It is midwinter. Below you lies a fresh, powdery layer of snow that catches the little bits of light like a thousand minute mirrors. The earth sparkles in blue shadows, white shades, and muted tones. If all the diamonds in the world were strewn across the ground, they would not be as beautiful as this snow which clings and covers the land.

Your inhale nips sharply but not painfully. The air is cold and you can feel it in your lungs. The air is also quiet. Peace has come to earth, like a baby finally fallen asleep. You smile to yourself and know this peace. A peace that rises above worries, above fears, above doubts. This is simply the peace of the moment, one moment, an eternal moment outside of time. This is a moment you can return to over and over again.

As this peace sinks into every cell and limb of your body, feel softness on your skin. Fur clothes you from head to toe. Tall snow boots. A heavy cloak that keeps out the cold. Legs wrapped in smooth warmth. A sacrifice was made for your good. You thank the animal life for this warmth, in a world before synthetic fabrics and central heating.

***

The light is failing more and more as time drags on. Darkness is settling into the rills and edges and shadows. You must move before it is too dark to see. The stars are out and you catch the glimpse of one particular star, shining through the pine boughs. It draws you like the light of a warm cottage fire; it means something to you, but you are not sure what yet. So you set off in your comfortable warmth, in the direction of this star. The snow crunches beneath you as you press into its cotton-ball like surface. You fall into an easy pace, all the while considering: what does rebirth mean?

Suddenly you realize that you are walking on a path. It is not easily seen, but the trees give way to you. It falls darker and darker, making the going difficult. The night air hangs chill as ice and your breathing is getting sharper as your limbs tire. You might need to take a rest soon, you consider. But then, you notice something ahead, about ten meters away, shining bright like a star.

You walk cautiously over to it, with wonder and attention. The trees disappear to make some sort of small clearing. This is a crossroads. Except there are only two roads leading out, other than the one you came in on. And in the very center of this crossroads, this triple road way, sits a small lantern. It is worked with the most marvelous craftsmanship, such fine metalwork, such delicate glasswork. And inside, burns a solitary candle. The candle is red, like holly berries. Red like blood.

You look above into the sky, seeing the dark expanse clearly for the first time. And there in the distance is your star. It still beckons. It still pricks something inside your heart. You must continue on, but in this darkness, you would never manage. So you take the little lantern in your hand and press onwards, thankful for the light, no matter how small.

Your journey continues at a pleasant pace. You are warm in your clothing and content with your leading lamp. There is no sound except for the crunch of the snow and the light wind that has started rustling through the eaves of the trees. The star is fixed in your sight and you move towards it. You walk like this for some time until you realize that there is other crunching snow. Something behind you. Your back stiffens but you dare not turn around yet. You want to be sure. So you walk forward, straining to listen with your entire body. Sure enough, there is something following you.

You whirl around to face it and force the lantern into its eyes. Your light goes out, but instead of being afraid, you stand dead still in awe. Though there is hardly any light, you distinguish a white stag, as tall as a horse, gazing deep into your eyes. His aged beard like that of an old man falls in fluffy waterfalls around his handsome face and strong chest. His antlers rise tall and towering, like an oak tree, and amidst the antler-limbs hangs mistletoe, the green succulent leaves frosty with white berries small. There is also some sort of moss or lichen caught; it glitters golden and pure, like a regal crown on his venerable head. His brown eyes examine you, this traveler on such a sacred night. You remember it is Yule. You point to the star and he knows. He knows. The White Stag tips his long and graceful antlers on his back, signaling you to mount.

You climb on, situating yourself comfortably. Before you know it, he is off at the speed of starlight. The wind whistles in your ears and the landscape blurs and merges until there is nothing but his steady, strong strides and you clutching his mane and lying close. His fur is like nothing you’ve ever seen or felt before. And in the softness you begin to grow drowsy, so drowsy. The earth falls away and there is nothing but the great heavens above and around you, a realm of velvet, lit with brilliant but distant flames.

***

Suddenly you both land with a thud. You jerk awake and straighten up, to behold your surroundings. Right above you is your star. It is not as bright as it once appeared to you, for it has faded. But it is definitely your star and this is the place it has led you, with the aid of the White Stag. You are above the pine trees, which stretch for miles and miles around in all directions, like a giant green carpet. But here, you are atop a tall hill, with some sort of cluster of stones at the very top. The White Stag lets you down off his broad back, and you walk towards these stones, quick to realize that they form a barrow, a cairn. It vaguely reminds you of Newgrange. The white stones shine out sharp against the black sky and you watch as the White Stag walks into its entrance. He disappears inside, into the warm but very faint glow that seems to be coming from the cairn’s depths. You follow him, curious, lantern in hand.

This is a passageway and the light is somewhere ahead, but the way leads down, as the ground gently slopes. You walk in. The air hangs heavy about you, pressure beginning to make you a bit uncomfortable. Deeper you go … and the deeper you go, the warmer it gets until you are actually forming a very light sweat. The smell of cremated remains fills your nostrils and in the poor light, faces rise and fall out of the earthen walls, marching before and behind you like a Faery Troop of the Dead. They look at you and then disappear. Face after face, familiar yet not. Gradually you realize that this very passageway is made through the soil of packed ashes. You walk on the earth, formed of decomposed ancestors. Your hands touch the walls, touch ancestors. You would normally recoil at the thought but instead it fills you with a sense of respect and veneration. Here, here lie thousands and thousands of lives, the lives that went into making your life. A sacrifice for the perpetuation of life. And you are thankful to the ancestors, this endless line of forbears. Even now you can feel their presence surrounding you, protecting you, carefully leading you along so that you do not stumble needlessly. You say a silent prayer to them, speaking your heart as only a child can.

When your prayers are finished, the passageway also ends, opening into a cave like enclosure. There is a frozen pool of water in the center. You have arrived just in time.

It is time.

***

With a decisive kick, the White Stag stamps on the ice. With the deafening thunder of cracking ice, a rumble runs through the earth, emanating from that central place. The ground shakes and you fall down to your knees, bewildered yet full of wonder. Water begins to lap at the sides of the thick but now shattered ice. The White Stag is so strong, so kingly. His very presence is melting the ice, turning it into liquid. You realize that this water, in the belly of the cairn, is actually a whirlpool, a great cauldron. Now the water is freed, awoken from sleep, and it begins rotating slowly, very slowly. A soft glow, goldeny and shimmery fills the whirlpool. And then, you watch as this glorious stag, gleaming eerily white against the darkness around him, you watch as he regally and slowly allows himself to slip below the surface of the water, now melted, until his form disappears. As his body touches the water, it begins to gurgle and simmer and heat up. He is completely enveloped. Not even his tall antlers can be seen. A steam rises in ghostly wisps … while ripples run throughout the entire surface.

The whirlpool begins to rotate slowly at first, then faster and faster, like molecules racing around and around, a galaxy in its tail-spin, a triskelle in motion. The energy levels in the room are starting to stir as well, forcing the heaviness that had once oppressed you, out of the cave. Vibrations ripple through your whole body as this movement in the earthen cauldron gathers energy and speed. Higher and higher until there is a nearly inaudible whistling in your ears. All the cells in your body feel frenzied with the energy that permeates. All senses are heightened. All awareness expands. You feel yourself being caught up in the whirling, in the swirling. This is life!

This is life flowing, awakening again after the winter death at Samhain! Oh! such a joy fills you beyond expression until you feel you will explode …. And before your very eyes, the pool of light grows brighter and brighter. The golden is like the lichen you saw on the White Stag’s antlers. You are breathless. The energy whirls like a dervish dance, spreading out and upwards, opening and enlivening all things in its touch. The ancestors are awake, singing in with the song of this energy of life. You are singing. The earth is singing. All is brilliant light now as in one sudden burst, a molten globe of this golden energy rises out of the pool. The cairn’s belly, this cave, presses upwards, until the whole area pushes through the roof, up into the air, up into the night.

The ball of light grows steadily. You feel the heat in it. You feel your soul in it. You feel the soul of the entire world in it. It melts away all the heavy energies that have been holding you down, all the dark energies that have confused but also protected you. You are now in the light, pure light. Stark and bare. Nothing hidden but the entire world in unison harmony, singing the light into being. Without helping it, you reach out, blinded, to light your candle.

And in that moment, the Sun is born. The ball of light rises into the sky and you watch the pink and golden dawn of a beautiful Yule morning. It is nearly too much for you as you realize that this dawn, you took part of it, and that this Sun is the same Stag you knew and loved. This is the light of the world, sacrifice given in love and enlightenment received with gratefulness.

***

The new Sun is still weak, like a beautiful baby, but you know that he will grow in endurance and heat as time stretches on. You look at the lit candle in your hand and know, there is life beyond death. There is hope beyond pain. There is wisdom beyond confusion. And as the Sun spreads his rays across the entire waking world, you send out these three rays of rebirth-the ray of awareness, the ray of hope, and the ray of wisdom.

You know what rebirth means. You are part of it. It is the entire process of living.

May these thoughts stay with you throughout all the year.

Now gradually feel your awareness leave the morning sun, leave the candle, leave the hilltop bathed in light. You are here, feeling rested, feeling joyful, feeling wiser. Take three deep breaths and wiggle your fingers. Be aware of their movement. Now roll your neck and shoulders and take three more deep breaths. Finish coming into awareness of your body as you would prefer, keeping what experiences you had safe and secure in your spirit and mind’s eye.

***

Now open your eyes and light the red candle in front of you, remembering this Yule Walk that you have just returned from. Take a silent moment to bless your ancestors, your loved ones, and yourself.

When you are finished, hug the person next to you. Smile and wish them a merry Christmas and a happy Yule as well.

1 Response to The White Stag

  1. Thank you that was lovely. Just what I was looking for. x

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