Candlemas at the Cave, Imbolc in the Ice

Candlemas at the Cave, Imbolc in the Ice

It is the scent that reaches me in my bear-like slumbers, drifting day after day in a form of hibernation that sees me rarely raise my head from the nest of covers. It does not force its way into my subdued consciousness, but instead it seems to creep quietly, humbly, into my cave and stands by my bed, waiting for me to notice it.

I rise from the dreamless state that has held me for months, eyes flickering open, and I take a sharp, deep breath like a drowned woman returning to life. The air holds a scent I’d forgotten existed. It’s the smell of thawing earth and dripping ice.

The wall of ice at the mouth of my cave still blocks out much of the light, so the cave is deep in shadows, but through the blue-white mass I see a brighter colour, tinged with gold and I realise it might be the sun. Pushing back my covers, I sit up and take another harsh,deep breath, drawing in the clear cold air I can feel infiltrating the sour, stale air of my den.

I get to my feet, joints stiff and sore and movement difficult, and I stumble to the ice wall. Before I reach it, I can feel the change. Air is moving, through the cut-out in the ice that had become blocked around the winter solstice, and though it is still the frozen air of winter, it is no longer the same. There is moisture in it that holds the scents of the thaw. When I move into the tunnel through the ice wall, I see that droplets of water are rolling slowly down, as if the tunnel is weeping with relief. The tunnel is still partially blocked, but a window has opened, that drips steadily as it melts, and through this rough portal, the air flows. I stand as close as I can to the opening in the ice and beyond it, I can hear the sounds of flowing, bubbling water and the first bird song.

6 thoughts on “Candlemas at the Cave, Imbolc in the Ice

  1. I found you February 3rd, 2015 — my 67th birthday — after googling “why i quit writing” (“quit life” not far behind.) Rarely do I reach out — strangers, I have found, are not usually kind. Your soul speaks, however, and I hear the message. It reminds me of my heroine, Mrs. Woolf. My first trip abroad — what? 25 years ago? — I spent three days in London visiting every address at which she had lived — a pilgrimage, and a tribute.

    In gratitude, I offer you a gift of some words written as prologue to a work of memory and fiction started last year. If it moves something inside you, I will be glad. If you will indulge, please read on:

    Some say time is a river…a ribbon..a chain. It runs, it slips, is lost, can be killed, like an ancient hairy monster. But I say time is a needle — sharp; piercing; threading stones and leaves, wind, stars, moon, man and woman, bird, beast, crawling creatures — all existence on this hurtling rock in space. Time weaves forward, backward, side to side; uses bones and hair and keening cries of all things living and dead. It sews the sun in the sky, the shadows to the moon, and threads through clouds and raindrops, wet or frozen. You cannot see it, smell it, hear it, but you can feel it, stitching up your life, until all that is left is another knot in the string from zero to infinity, beyond the beyond; past all recording and history. Time can be an enemy, or friend. Its message is embroidered on face and hands: this is the question; this the reply. No need for incensed incantations; just truth, as time pierces your eye.

    I tell you this from somewhere in the world, from a round tower, on the edge of a jagged cliff overhanging a roaring sea. The drawbridge is tight shut; the parapet, flagless; archers who defended this raw spit have long been dust. An underground stream feeds the cistern below, amplifying sounds in its mossy hollow. Through it, a shimmering column of magnetic energy rises from earth’s iron heart, through crust, air, clouds, into the infinite. Ghostly images, wandering spirits, dark energies — all are drawn to it; and the peat bog corpses slowly twist in their graves.

    I heard the foxes scream last night. There is no moon or stars. I have cut off my hair; burned the spinning wheel; do not eat apples. There are no mirrors here. This tale is done, but not yet buried. If a prince, decked in gold and purple, rode up on dancing charger, I could not — would not — answer ‘yes!’.

    These Books — they chronicle a story of hope and adventure; daring and danger. Terrible things do happen: madness and death, destruction, depredation, tragedy. Be prepared. These tales unfold from the shroud I sew around me, wrapped in chains of my own making, and I leave them here, for you, as warning; as blessing. There is no escape for this old soul, and no reason for it. Something comes for me — devil or angel — mayhaps both. All are welcome, including ghosts. The needle of time catches me up, pierces my heart, and sews me now into the future. ~~

    P.S.~ Valerian Root capsules offered me gentle relief for nervous depression.


    • Thank you for the gift of those evocative, powerful words: the tale is not done yet. Keeping on sewing with the needle of time, creating a unique embroidery like the Lady of Shallott. That was beautiful writing; you have a gift.
      Odd things come from putting in such questions into a search engine; in Strangers and Pilgrims, six people came together because they all put, “My heart is broken and I am dying inside,” into a search engine. You never know where the Google oracle may take you.
      And belated best wishes for your birthday.


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