The Winterlands are pure white snow and ice, save for the few dark trees dotting the landscape. The sun hangs from the sky so that it too is a blue-white color and, occasionally, the horizon simply dissolves. Mountains expand in the distance, to what would be called ‘north’, and a frozen lake is nestled in the western portion. A few hills have caves carved into them that you can sneak into a sleep in. Not often, but sometimes, a large beast will come out of hiding. Bodies can be found – rarely – partially buried in the snowfall.
It is a very quiet place.
The Winterlands are located someplace ‘under’ the Orchards, and so fall under the Orchard-Picker’s domain. They are also part of the Bluebird’s land. Her rival, the Firebird, is not able to come into the Winterlands, and very few friendly faeries dwell there.
I am moving towards the frozen lake now. When I first came to this place I was split in two, one half of me painfully human and the other half mostly bird, as white as the snow. My body can shift between both forms whenever I chose, most often simply bearing the white wings and tail feathers and occasional claws. It seems the Winterlands are especially good for confronting the Selves and masks we build to protect ourselves from the world and from our own desires and weaknesses. The bird that accompanied me into the Winterlands was a reflection I had to eventually reconcile with myself. Now, I go to the lake to find another self and incorporate it as well.
Unlike the bird – which had no name, which I knew on sight as another me – it took me a fair bit of pondering to realize that I had performed that common and accidental splitting of part of my personality through creating a fictional character and building that character over and over again. I injected into him all the things I wanted to be, all the hidden beliefs I had of myself, and continued to build him into a character I could laugh at and enjoy and before I knew it he became a mask of myself that I felt unable to wear.
Working with the Shadowscapes Tarot has begun the re-incorporation of this character, though, especially in the suit of cups. More formally I am journeying within the Winterlands to find him and claim him; at least, the parts that can be a part of me. This character is especially wily and fey-ish, and, unlike the bird who was relatively easy to adopt, this self proposes a question that sets me at disease.
“Do you care what others think?”
This self (for ease of writing, he’ll be called ‘J’) doesn’t care. Partially because he just isn’t aware that it is something he should concern himself with – which is an aspect I already have very well mastered – but also because he doesn’t see a reason to concern himself with another person’s perception of him. There is too much fun to be had to fret over ‘proper’ appearances and impressions. This is so important to me because for a lot of my life I was told that I looked naturally ‘unpleasant’ and ‘angry’. I gave J a blase attitude I haven’t yet mastered.
This is the whining of a young child, I realize. But we all have those parts of us that did not grow alongside the rest of our mind. The Winterlands give us a chance to grow those aspects.
I’ve been especially quiet during this work. A lot of writing and journeying I’ve done has not been shared and likely will never be. The thought processes that have been going on inside me are not something I want to share with the world. Hopefully, after this Wintertime, I will be able to write openly again – but that is likely to be, at earliest, around the beginning of December. Til then, my updates may be very little.
One of my friends wrote a lovely post about the Bluebird (hail the Ophelia!). The way I perceive her is heavily influenced by my connection to the Firebird – it’s hard to be unbiased when the god I consider as close to a ‘patron’ as I have at the moment passionately despises her and actively tries to dethrone her when he gets the chance. Adding in my own fear of water, the Bluebird isn’t a goddess I’m all that inclined to view favorably.
But she is a vital part of the Four Gods. Just as she is opponent, threat, and challenge to the Firebird, she is also a sort of ‘lover’ figure to him. While she is firmly rooted in woman-ness (at least, how the fae are womanly), though, the Firebird is man, woman, neither, both, all, nothing, and more. They cannot be put into the heteronormative concept of the lovers, as they go far beyond that. They’re connected on a very deep level – each dethrones the other – and the Bluebird is a catalyst for the Firebird. After all, she is the blue flame, the center that burns at the center of the Firebird. She isn’t the typical ‘mother/birthing’ figure.
Her myth concerning the birth of the Firebird, remember, involves her causing him to rot away, drowning with him, and chasing him from every hiding place he finds. She is a boundary maker for the Firebird. The longer I work with her the less afraid of her I become, the more willing to drown. That is part of her secret: she’ll drown you, but in that moment before you die (or perhaps when you do pass) she will give you breath and new eyes. Not only is she decay, she is the life that blossoms from it.
I still consider her a deity that one should treat with caution. She is still a faery of drowning and death and, as such, dangerous. But danger is a necessary part of life.