Cold Spell ::: a Spell for the Cold
So I spend the night outside Wednesday, January 30th to 31st of this last week while all these drastic temperatures are happening all over the country. I spent the night on an island the size of a small parking lot I met in in Eastern Massachusetts, where the windchill got down to around -15 to -20. I wanted to experience the full body cold, and certainly got what I hoped for. I was nine layers deep in clothing to separate me from the winter, and the clothes also acted as my sleeping bag, which was kind of a throwback to a few years ago when I used to go camping in just the clothes I was wearing.
Notice I said, “spent the night outside” rather than, “slept outside” because to tell you the truth, I didn’t really slept all that much, even though that had been my intention. Rather I rested and explored the island over the course of the night in the dark, looking like a ghost, my silhouette moving slowly between the trees. I made a nest in the hollow space of a fallen tree, covering it in sticks, dirt and leaves, with a nice little opening to crawl into. Pretty solid shelter as far as shelters go, and actually very comfortable. It was a partnership with the land and the place, and I fell in love with the island while I was there. I loved the scent of the damp earth, smelling like coffee and kimchi all around me.
Upon arriving, I slowly walked to each tree and touched their trunks with my bare hands and said hello. I made friends with the place, asking permissions, singing, saying thank you’s, opening up my senses and closely watching the place as it watched me in return.
Instead of sleeping, I spent the night getting myself into every nook an cranny of the island. Resting in the nest for a little, doing jumping jacks to defrost my feet, walking around the island in the blinding snow, sitting against a friendly tree for a while letting the wind blast my face, letting the snow completely cover my body flat on the ground, walking some more to warm up, bending down and look at moss and lichen, closing my eyes for some more rest while leaning my head against another tree, then I’d climb that tree and watch the lights back on the shore from where I came from. Then I might go sit on a rock over looking the ice, walk circles around a meditation path I made / found, go back in the nest, go look at the skeletons of Great Blue Herons I found. At one point I got lost for over an hour out on the ice as the storm went to total whiteout and I lost sight completely of the island. I walked around the perimeter of the island on the ice for a different perspective, and on and on, all night as the snow and wind galloped across the ice like horses and the temperature kept dropping. It was marvelous and strange and was one of the most unusual, coldest, and deeply loved experience I’ve had in a very long time.
The island had / has a incredibly strong presence and personality, as well as a cast of wonderful of other-than-human characters, which were plainly themselves over the course of the time I spent there. My time started with cold sunshine in the afternoon, then sunset, darkness, wind, stronger wind, storm visibly overhead, light snow, heavier snow, full whiteout blizzard, strongest wind, plummeting temperatures, clear star-filled sky, sunrise.
Often, when I’m in an experience where I feel really cold, I will remind myself, that I may be cold now, but I will be warm again later. That thought, as small and simple as it is, brings me profound comfort, and an awareness of my circumstance with a longer view of time that extends further than that immediate frozen moment.
For whatever strange reason, I love doing things like this. I love losing myself in vivacious experiences of what is generally considered to be “bad weather”, but on that island in the middle of the night, literally lost out on the ice with the wind and snow howling around me, or walking the perpetual, countless circles around the paths with only half an eye open out of my head wraps to watch where I was going, the deep earth groans of ice echoing around me, I found the weather to be deeply good, essentially good, even sacredly good. I’m also aware, of the drastic pain and damage such weather can hold when not experienced by choice, and kept this in mind as I was there by my own volition. But for my purposes, I was there to find the Earth’s sense of self and truth telling that winter uniquely holds here. I met the Spirit of the Island that night.
I was there to deeply meet the place, to love it, and to hopefully have it love me back. For this project, I’m in a mind-space of intentional openness, trying on different ideas, questions, truths, and fictions and believe that everything in the world has its own type of “knowing” - be that sentience, wisdom, love, knowledge, sensing and intelligence.
As I walked the paths in the cold, I wrote this poem as a spell to keep me warm in the sub zero temperatures and spoke it out loud. It’s a collection of three lines of language, intended to be carried with you like three small objects in the palms your hands as you search the deep spaces at the bottom of your pockets. I give this poem to you as a spell for the cold :::
Cold Spell ::: A Spell for the Cold
Yes, you are cold now
but you will be warm again
Yes, you are far from home
but you carry it with you today
Yes, you are tired and windblown
but you will find rest in time
and here are two image options you can download to carry with you to memorize the spell on your phone