Make Tea

She lit the candles and incense, and sat down upon the cushions. Breathing deeply, she inhaled the fragrant scent, and allowed her gaze to wander over the items on the altar. She tried to focus, her gaze finally resting upon the image of Brighid, and the flame that the goddess held in her hands. As the darkness fell, both within and without, both figuratively and literally, she focused on the flame being offered. She took it within her heart, and for a brief moment it flickered, then died out as the darkness consumed it in a deep blanket of despair.

Breathe.

She focused once again on the image, this time on the watery vesica pisces symbol. Yet her mind would not focus, her thoughts filled with grief and anger, darkness and despair. She breathed through them, trying to remain in the present moment. But the darkness was overwhelming, and as she floundered, she cried out: “Help!”

The voice of the goddess spoke softly in her mind. “Make tea.”

She sat for a moment longer, determined to spend at least ten minutes at her altar. At last, she gave up and blew out the candles, allowing the incense to burn itself out. Make tea, the goddess had said. Alright. Let’s make some tea.

She went downstairs and put the kettle on. Let’s make tea, she said to herself. Mindfully. She prepared the small teapot with herbs known to lift the darkness and soothe the nerves: St John’s wort and skullcap. She also added some lemon balm, to ease tension and also for flavour. She inhaled the scent of the dried herbs, and mixed them together before placing them in the teapot. She looked out the window in the light of the setting sun, a small muntjac deer feeding alongside a magpie underneath the bird feeder.

She placed on a tray the teapot, strainer and saucer, as well as a small handmade earthenware cup. She brought these to the table, and laid them down with her full attention. The kettle had boiled, and she carefully filled her small iron kettle with the water, feeling the steam against her skin. She brought the iron kettle to the table, and placed it on a heat-proof mat. She sat down, her mind still battling the darkness around the edges, her thoughts seemingly not her own. She knew her hormones were swirling in a dance similar to that which she had experienced at adolescence, though now she was at the other end of the brilliant spectrum. She had to take care of herself, of her body as well as her mind.

She opened up the teapot and breathed. Mindfully, she took the iron kettle and filled the teapot with water, replacing the kettle with equal attention. She inhaled the scent of the herbs, and replaced the teapot lid. No other thoughts entered her mind, just these simple, small actions. Working with mindfulness, working with full attention to her actions, there was only the present moment.

She sat back and waited for the tea to brew. Slowly, she felt the darkness returning, crowding at her mind. Despair at the state of the world, at the constant struggle she faced with work, with others who could not do the simplest of tasks, with expectations from both strangers and friends, knowing that if she didn’t do something, no one would – stop. Breathe. Focus. Three minutes stretched to an eternity as the brew steeped in the teapot.

She took a deep breath, and the darkness receded an inch. She picked up the teapot, and concentrated on pouring the tea through the strainer into the small bowl. She kept up her concentration on her breath and on the pouring, and it filled her entire being. Nothing else mattered in that moment. Just pouring tea.

She put down the teapot and picked up the cup. The scent of the herbs brought back memories of a wonderful little shop called StarChild in Glastonbury. She allowed the brief memory to flicker, and then she refocused her attention on the cup in her hands. The heat radiated through the bowl, and she had to pick it up carefully, her fingers near the cooler end of the rim. Quietly, she took the first slurp, allowing the air to cool the hot water before it reached her tongue. She concentrated on nothing but drinking the tea, sitting alone in the dining room, with night falling outside.

She drank the first cup, and then brewed another in the teapot. She kept her mind focused on the present, acknowledging past wounds but not allowing them to flavour the present moment. She had worked hard to name them and transform them, and was working on it still. Three minutes again slipped past, and outside her dining room window she saw the Christmas lights from the house across the street go on.

She poured herself another cup, and drank it mindfully. A third cup was brewed and drunk, and when she finished she sat back and bowed to her tea set. She felt a little better, the darkness within relenting, though not wholly gone. She acknowledged and allowed the herbs to do their work on her body and her mind. With equally careful attention, she rinsed the kettle and washed the teapot, bowl and strainer, and then went upstairs with a lighter heart, to Skype with her mother and find even more comfort and peace, there in the moment, utterly in the moment.

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10 thoughts on “Make Tea

  1. Wow….Joanna…..reading this was so relaxing….and timely as well. Hoping to set off for Glastonbury early tomorrow from our home in East Yorkshire…phone call indicating that our daughter in law is just about to go into labour…car tyre might have a slow puncture….aargh. Sat with a mug of hot tea….and the sun has just peeped out after several gloomy dank rainy days. Thank you for bringing me back to a calm frame of mind…John

  2. Ah yes, this is me.

    Today is a difficult day of the year. I did write a tiny bit about why but I didn’t like to see it in print as it is too personal so I deleted it. I now need a cup of tea ready for a yearly phone call. Duty calls.

    Blessings to you, Joanna.

  3. Hi Joanna, I am over in Carlingford and as a long-time observer of the world… I understand the feeling of darkness. Its not all darkness though.. mostly in the West these days.. but I always say Ireland is a good place to be (I’m Canadian – Irish). Stick with the tea πŸ™‚ – Jamie

  4. Gently written words looking at the issue of the challenge of inner and outer darkness this time of year. I could feel your ritual as it unfolded for you and enfolded you within it. Wisdom from the goddess was rich and simple.

  5. Thanks for you observations. Living in the USA right now is like being in a Tolkien epic.Just placing all my focus on what I can do to Be One with the Light.Will be attending a Solstice Ceremony with a wonderful group of “Believers ” …feeding and caring for each other, seems like the best way to get thru. Yet in spite of all the sharing etc . it always seems to come down to individual will. I draw inspiration from your writing as you profess this attitude not from a selfish place but from one of deep self knowledge, which comes only thru living your Dreams as much as possible, which I have been working on for many years, the last 8 mainly thru Druidic sensibilities.
    Big Druid Love
    May the Awen be with You
    Druid Errant
    Donal Tloog Allan-Gorey

    • Thank you, Donal, your kindness and support are wonderful. Remember what Gandalf said: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil.” πŸ™‚

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