“Coast Range Wassail”

original lyrics set to a traditional wassailing tune,
words by Larisa A. White

I composed new lyrics to this traditional wassailing tune, in order to make it more relevant to my local flora, fauna, and ecology, and particularly, to the denizens of our little family orchard, which we began wassailing each year, as part of our Yuletide celebrations:

If you would like to download a copy of the sheet music, for personal, private, non-commercial use, you may download a copy, here:

Coast Range Wassail (lead sheet)

Rituals for the Autumnal Equinox

Here in the central Coast Range Mountains of California, where I live, the Wheel of the Year is quite different from most other places in which Druidry is typically practiced. In order for my personal practice of Druidry to authentically connect with the land, sea, and sky with which I live, it was necessary to rewrite the Wheel of the Year and develop a completely new set of seasonal rituals, which honored our local spirits of place, and the wisdom embodied by the natural seasons and cycles, found here.

The following activities are those which I perform, with family, on or about the day of the Autumnal Equinox, in a dormant, outdoor wild-space — unless smoky air-quality proves too dangerous, in which case it is performed indoors at my altar, aside from the act of offerings of food and water to local wildlife, which must be done outside.


FIRE SEASON – READ-ALOUD

I come to the Sacred Grove today to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, a time of balance between darkness and light that is shared by all living beings on Earth. It is also a time of dramatic change in weather, all over the world. This shared experience, of perfect balance coupled with rapid change serves to unite all beings of planet Earth, despite our many differences.

Here in the Coast Range mountains of Northern California, autumn is the Season of Fire.

As the sun continues its journey southward toward its winter home, the icy Pacific upwelling stops, and summer fogs disperse. Temperatures near the coast now soar, and tinder-dry brush and trees, stressed by the summer-long drought, catch light. Smoky wildfires ravage the land, killing flora and fauna, and destroying forests, fields, and homes.

Though the obvious face of Fire Season is one of destruction, the Power of Fire is also a force of cleansing and renewal. Fire clears space for new growth. It enriches the soil with its ash. And it serves to remind us of our duties, as stewards of the land.

In times of dearth, when Nature fails to provide for our immediate needs, it is the responsibility of wise stewards to provide a Plan B. It is up to us to be prepared, to keep stores of seed, and water, and food, so that we can provide for our beloved kin until the season of suffering ends. Until the arrival of the winter rains, we can help our kindred Beings of land and sea and sky by sharing a bit of our stored water and food, and offering up our heartfelt prayers for the return of the autumn rains.


FIRE SEASON – ACTIVITIES

Read aloud, and re-enact the story, “Singing Down the Rain”

Refresh and restock all emergency supplies; review all emergency preparedness procedures for home and family.

Set out water offerings for the local wildlife. Keep the water bins clean, fresh, and filled throughout the duration of Fire Season.

Rituals for the Summer Solstice

Here in the central Coast Range Mountains of California, where I live, the Wheel of the Year is quite different from most other places in which Druidry is typically practiced. In order for my personal practice of Druidry to authentically connect with the land, sea, and sky with which I live, it was necessary to rewrite the Wheel of the Year and develop a completely new set of seasonal rituals, which honored our local spirits of place, and the wisdom embodied by the natural seasons and cycles, found here.

The following ritual activities are those which I perform alone, on or about the day of the Summer Solstice, in an outdoor wild-space, surrounded by drippy, morning fog – preferably surrounded by giant, coast redwoods.


FOG SEASON – READ-ALOUD

I come to the Sacred Grove today to celebrate Summer Solstice, time of longest light, when the sun reaches its northern-most position, and reverses its course along the horizon, with days now shortening, as we head back towards winter.

Here in the Coast Range mountains of Northern California, summer is the Season of Fog.

While the sun is in its summer home, it creates a Pacific high-pressure zone that sends us our summer westerly winds. As those winds approach our shores, they push aside the surface waters of the ocean, allowing a powerful upward surge of icy water from the depths.  As damp ocean breezes reach our shores, the chill of this icy upwelling causes the moisture to precipitate, giving birth to the Great Fog Bank of summer.

But the ways in which we experience that fog will vary with the microclimate in which we happen to live. Those who reside near the mountain gaps may find themselves surrounded by mist on most days. Those farther inland, who are more protected by the coast range mountains, may never see a wisp. And in all cases, the weather changes with the cyclical surge and retreat of summer fog.

Within the quiet stillness enforced by the thick grey veil of fog that blankets the world, I find myself drawn to the world within, where quiet stillness may always be found, and the voice of Divine Wisdom may be heard.


FOG SEASON – JOURNEYING

Holy Book of Nature, teach me;
Holy Powers of Nature, guide me,
While I kindle Inner Light.

Enter a state of receptive meditation, connecting with the Holy Powers of Nature and the Spirits of Place, and then, quietly close eyes, and enter the World Within, watching and listening for revealed wisdom, throughout the journey. When the inner journey is complete, return to the physical world.


FOG SEASON – ACTIVITIES

Using found objects along the coast or in the forest, create a work of nature art, exploring, expressing, and meditating upon any new insights discovered during the journey in the World Within.

Summarize the results of these meditations in the form of crafts, stories, poems, or songs.


**THE LOVELY PHOTO OF SAN FRANCISCO FOG, ABOVE, IS BY BROCKEN INAGLORY, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Seasons in California – First Flowers

by Estifanos (5), of California, U.S.A.

I live with my mom and dad, in the mountains near the coast of California. Where we live, the beginning of February is the time when we see the first flowers blooming in our yard. It is the beginning of our spring.

At this time of year, the weather is sort of cool. Sometimes it’s cold enough to make breath clouds. But there is never snow or ice. There is a lot of wind and rain and mud. Sometimes, but rarely, there is lightening and hail. We get a lot of sunny-rainy days. We call that rainbow weather. This week, I saw a triple rainbow! I was very lucky to see that. Only two of them came out in the photograph my dad took:

In our garden, the blueberry bushes are starting to make fruit:

The lemons are ready for harvest:

The arctostaphylos and ceanothus bushes are in full bloom:

And mom says the native pollinators are silly with joy for the nectar and pollen.

So is the pregnant hummingbird who is about to lay her eggs!

“Spangle Dangle Glitter”

an original musical composition,
words and music by Larisa A. White

This was my first music composition, written to sing at our annual, Yuletide Revels, at which we rekindle light in the darkness, through song, games, and revelry. It was originally conceived as a piece for a single alto voice, supported by a children’s choir; I am still waiting for a children’s choir to sing it with me. Meanwhile, you can listen to a synthesized version of the full arrangement, for two voices and piano (a bit soul-less, I know, but what can you expect from computer-musicians):

If you would like to download a copy of the sheet music, for personal, private, non-commercial use, you may download a copy, here: