Imbolic and Brigid

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Like many Pagan holidays, Imbolc has a Celtic connection as well, although it wasn’t celebrated in non-Gaelic Celtic societies. The Irish Saint Brighid is the keeper of the sacred flame, the guardian of home and hearth. In addition to fire, she is a goddess connected to inspiration and creativity. Imbolic is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain and corresponds to the Welsh Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau. ForChristians, especially in Ireland, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid.There is some debate over whether St Brigid was a real person. She has the same name, associations and feast day as the Celtic goddess Brigid, and there are many supernatural events, legends and folk customs associated with her.

Some scholars suggest that the saint is merely a Christianization of the goddess. Others suggest that she was a real person who took on the goddess’s attributes. Medieval Art Historian Pamela Berger argues that Christian “monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart. Others suggest that the saint had been chief druidess at the temple of the goddess Brigid, and was responsible for converting it into a Christian monastery. After her death, the name and characteristics of the goddess became attached to the saint.
Photo ~ Jeff Frazier

Last Migration

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“dying fall”

Deep in the woods the threads of earth and feather, bark and moss and bug and light conspired to create this tableu of an ending that is terrible and beautiful. Reminding us of nature’s unrelenting course, calling back to all of us. To merge again with all that we are.

Poet A.D Hope’s artistry is deeply hidden, quiet and restrained, what makes this poem so powerful, moving, and original is not easy to explain. But full of deep meaning.

The Death of the Bird

For every bird there is this last migration:
Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

Year after year a speck on the map, divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
Season after season, sure and safely guided,
Going away she is also coming home.

And being home, memory becomes a passion
With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,
Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession
And exiled love mourning within the breast.

The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.

And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;
That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,
Custom and fear constraining her no longer,
Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.

A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,
Single and frail, uncertain of her place,
Alone in the bright host of her companions,
Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space,

She feels it close now, the appointed season:
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.

Try as she will, the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign,
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.

And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.

Poem ~ A.D Hope

Photo © 2016 Jeff Frazier

 

 

 

The Tree of Wisdom

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Tha geal a ‘chraobh

 
The world is so full of beautiful things, but I’m never more overwhelmed by beauty than when I’m in the presence of a truly magnificent tree.
Beauty is a strange and mysterious thing if you spend anytime contemplating it. My observations of nature have always been met with deep appreciation for how simple and how complicated the concept of beauty is in the natural world. We are confronted by this lone tree standing in the wood seemingly unique and singular and starkly beautiful, but on a macro scale we see this pattern played out in a million different iterations. And so, I can only offer someone else take on the bigger picture. As I  am too unfocused and too overwhelmed by this complicated web of natures intricacy’s. In his wonderful meditation of trees Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte (Trees: Reflections and Poems) Herman Hesse has cleared a path of deep understanding that ties the beauty and divinity of trees into a better understanding of our place in the great scheme of things…
 “For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
– Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte (Trees: Reflections and Poems)

 

Image © Jeff Frazier 2016 www.jefffrazier.com

The Wintry South

DSC04212Beautiful Wintry light at Radnor this week. Winter doesn’t necessarily reduce all to blank uniformity but the color pallet sure does become reduced. A season felt more distinctly here because we are left with cold wet air and leafless trees. None of the glimmer and glamour of ice-cycles and snow. I’ll still take it any day over the insane-icy New England winters and the monotonous season-less far south (Florida) winters.

Still, there is a special beauty that can be difficult to express visually. I love to mix images while I’m hiking. The spontaneous construction of a double exposure while still under the tree’s canopy gives you limitless creative choices.

© Jeff Frazier 2015

Home or Haunt?

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This home was a haunt of mine for a strange interval. I would visit this house and photograph it with each visit to Western Massachusetts. Holding onto a doomed long distance relationship. I would make my way up to the magic of Western Mass to see if I could finally make the thing work. Now this house is the thing that haunts me. It became a symbol of something I’m still trying to understand. Home.

Birth of Awe

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Eastern Sierra Escarpment from the Alabama hills

Awe = Fear x the speed of light squared

In my trips to Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierras of California, I usually experience something I call ” Birth of Awe “right about the time the Whitney portal road comes into view.  I’m always inspired to fall in love with photography again when this happens. Photography gives me a way to follow the seeds of ideas I generate about how we relate to these beloved lands . The desert, the mountains, the sky and the camera. The writer Wallace Stegner described it as “To Behold wild country not reduced by man”. You can only be elevated here.

I can only hope to expose some of the secret poetry that exists in this landscape.  in-camera multi-exposures juxtapose the surface’s of this dramatic land with the wider vista’s that surround.

For more images from this  series travel over to www.jefffrazier.com/vertical-horizons/

© Jeff Frazier Photography

Neo-Animism

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The Animist

“The way of nature is the way of the Tao.

Therefore you cannot improve upon nature. Those who try to change it in the end destroy it.” ~ Lao Tzu

A Growing awareness of Climate Change, and of the sentience of other animals, has meant that the human circle of ethical consideration has been expanding.  Only since the Enlightenment have ‘we’ in the West included all other humans as ethical beings.  Now some of us, at least, are beginning to consider other-than-human animals, and plants, as persons entitled to certain rights.  As our perspectives change, so does the basis upon which we make ethical judgements. This is a new evolution in the way we humans perceive the world. I highly recommend it. For the sake of our planets future.

“In the oldest religion, everything was alive, not supernaturally but naturally alive. There were only deeper and deeper streams of life, vibrations of life more and more vast. So rocks were alive, but a mountain had a deeper, vaster life than a rock, and it was much harder for a man to bring his spirit, or his energy, into contact with the life of a mountain, and so he drew strength from the mountain, as from a great standing well of life, than it was to come into contact with the rock. And he had to put forth a great religious effort. For the whole life-effort of man was to get his life into contact with the elemental life of the cosmos. mountain-life, cloud-life, thunder-life, air-life, earth-life, sun-life. To come into the immediate felt contact, and so derive energy, power, and a dark sort of joy. This effort into sheer naked contact, without an intermediary or mediator, is the root meaning of religion …”

~ D.H. Lawrence, “New Mexico”

Photo © Jeff Frazier