It was a dry well until I pulled the ogham.
I’m planning the grove’s Mistletoe Rite. rather than doing the same thing each time, I generally try to find a focus. The rite is always about healing, but sometimes it’s about the heart, the body, rest, community — any number of different aspects, the healing we not only receive but offer to ourselves, our tribe, the world both human and non.
I pulled Gort/Garden, and glanced over the associations. One stuck out: the swan, geis or eala. The symbol of Aonghus Og and his beloved. And clicking around for “swan poems” on the Internet, I stumbled upon one of my favorites, from Mary Oliver:
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
A call to Caer Ibormeith, shapechanger and swan, white-winged beloved of the Young Son.
And who is Caer Ibormeith, the Castle of the Yew Berry? Who is that beautiful vision that beckons us in sleep, beckons us to adventure, to risk — to change our lives?
We can call her beauty, but she is not merely physical symmetry. Inspiration, the in-drawn breath, perhaps. The seduction, the lure that brings us beyond our boundaries, finding our own white wings, flying in spirit.
How does beauty heal, then, or inspiration? Ecstasy — the union with the object outside the self, the forgetting of one’s own smallness, the drawing-into-relation with the world and the Otherworld. Our lives are small and sick without mystery, that-which-calls.
Beauty calls and invites. It soothes troubled spirits and troubles complacent ones. It drives us to scale mountain passes on our knees for the glimpse of a white wing. It bids us to notice the Other, the divine, that-which-is-beyond — beyond ourselves, our smallness, the rounds of bank checks and dishes to be washed and misplaced words.
The Yewberry can poison, true. Her castle is the darkness of its evergreen boughs. You can embrace her, but not swallow her. You can follow her flight.
You can let her change you.