Eponalia (18 December in the calendar of Roman Feast days)
The Sun sits low in the sky and dips even lower as his year draws to an end. The pale light of day soon passes to night. The tide ebbs. Each flower, each tree, each head of grass and grain, has shrunk to back to kernel: to hard seed, to nut, to reserved essence, biding the time until the light grows again and roots find a way through nurturing soil.
For now, Epona traverses the paths of the dead, riding through the dark, through earth and sea, each life that has passed moving with her, finding the way that she opens for them, losing the memories she closes behind them. The Sun will return and a new year begin, but now is the time of repose.
Epona, we are with you in the time of waiting, we pause with you now in the dark of the year.
We mark the time until the longest night when you stir the deepest well of the darkness
like a river rising from the caverns of gloom.
A candle is placed on the altar unlit, marking this time of darkness. It is a dark candle and when lit it will be scented and burn low and slowly. Another candle is placed there beside it, a large red candle for the rebirth of the Sun. This will be lit at the Solstice and burn through the longest night. Some holly and some ivy are also there.
on the ivy leaf
on the holly bough
As red fire stirs
in the kindling.
We count three days
to the longest night
Three more till the glimmer
of a longer day
Then seven to the eve
of New Year Calends
These days we count
from the Feast of Epona
of the Year’s turning.
The candle for Epona is lit.
The candle for the Sun awaits the Solstice.
Epona, I wrote this poem for you after the blood moon in 2015 and read it aloud to you at a ritual held in your honour that autumn. I offer it here as a written dedication at your shrine.
The blood moon:
an apple in a goddess' eye
drops and I think of the windfall
crisp autumn mornings when we released
the horses slipping from their halters
twisting away in leaps and bucks
with piquant glint-eyed excitement
to the trees where they'd drop their heads
whuffle up the crispy moons of green and red.
Some days before we turned them out
we whispered to them "apples"
and they knew exactly what we meant...
The blood moon has passed.
The horses are staying out late this year.
Yet the sun has gone down on my stable-yard:
baling freshly-cut hay, stacking barns
with hard-shouldered labour,
stuffing stretching nets
for hungry mouths.
As I cut the meadow and gather orchard fruits
I reminisce about the rural life that didn't last.
When the horses are tied behind bar and bolt
tugging at hay with meadow-sweet muzzles
I will feed them apple-moons
from my open palm.
EPONA on the Paths of the Dead
from a funeral stone , Gaul.
EPONA : ar drywydd y meirw
Metamorphoses, transformations, transpositions
Identities lost and found as shapes shift
On the paths of the dead, finding
New ways to be alive as forms fuse
One to another : human to badger,
Bee to wolf, bear to otter; from one to many.
On these paths anything goes (or goes).
What might we become along these trails?
All is fluid, molecules of liquidity like
Hydrogen and oxygen in water sliding
From one identity to another in the dark,
Tripping over each other to find again
The way to the light which beckons
Far off yet, but welcoming whenever
And wherever she will guide you.