There is a way of being, a dreamy space, of not quite here or there, where a leaf through the window playing in the wind, or the dance of sunlight on lace can hold you floating suspended in time.
It is a space that often surrounds us when energy for other busier pursuits is lacking, and in convalescence. It is where I found myself when she started coming, hinting at her own existence through the beauty that I was seeing in a slightly more mesmerised way - in that way that children see otherworldly beings when they are not fully present themselves, and that we sometimes sense when holding them through illness or other self-altering situations.
Perhaps she needed that space, the extended time of possibility to bring me the keys to her wonderland, and to have me believe, for it was to be the unfolding of an journey of time and endeavour, and my heart needed to to be in it.
Had she not permeated my heart, I may never have followed her into this unknown unplanned place, and yet still there were many times when I nearly gave up, for fear of not managing to bring that which was as ethereal as melting snowflakes into cloth, and from the economic unreasonableness of hours slipping softly endlessly away....
And yet this journey was of beautiful discovery, and is in its sharing here and along the way, an offering of small and tender peace.
As a child, the time of Advent was always one of the very magical festivals for me. We would go for a walk and gather moss and fallen treasure from the forest floor, and then create our Advent garden in the living room. On the first Sunday of Advent there would be, there behind the garden, an advent calendar made by my mother. Each door hid a painted picture, a transparency or was itself an opening cave made from layers of back-lit tissue paper with a little gnome or such dwelling inside. This was a time in which wonder layered upon wonder around that space.
It was this sense of opening into awe that the snow princess rekindled in me as I began to create her wintry land, and it was also the feeling of reverence for the elements of earth, water, wind and fire, which my mother in her wisdom had woven into our advent experience.
As a child, the first week of advent honoured the beings of the earth, and the garden and the doorways to open held gnomes and crystals, wee felted woodland animals and other such treasures. In the second week, mother of pearl shells appeared overnight in amongst the moss holding water for small pools – One of the most wonder-filled memory of advent for me was of finding a real little lizard swimming in a shell pool in the garden one morning when we lived in France, it was a warm year and this little creature had come in from outside – can you imagine the joy!
The sylphs, elementals of air floated in in the third week with glass bells, and beautiful feathers, and the fire fairies brought as close to the heart of winter with their glowing candles.
It was this relationship to the element within advent-tide which was the most deeply true part of the festival for me as a child, and it was this part which I kept and grew from as a mother when creating an winter garden of reverence building towards the lights of Chanukah, for my own children, in our celebration of the Jewish festivals at home.
As I listened to the snow princess’ whispered dreamy wishes, of the world enveloped in snow, still, yet still breathing its elemental essences, it was this same reverence that stole over me.
It was only in discussion with my mother towards the completion this unfolding wonderland, that I discovered that the prominence of honouring the elements and their beings was something that she brought to the festival of herself and that it was not integral to Advent for many people, or within all Waldorf schools or even to every kindergarten teacher, which she had been before becoming a mother.
And yet this relationship to the interweaving qualities of nature was there in every inspiration, in every stitch, in every pause as I followed the snow princess’ secrets. The Unicorns came to pull the sleigh first, and I heard their hooves sometimes tapping along frost hard paths, sometimes silent in snow.
After they had done their part carrying the princess along, waiting at each day's step while she peeped into a crystal hidden beneath the ice of a frozen puddle, or discovered a treasure chest within a sparkling snowy cave; the dolphins seemed to arrive of themselves to draw her sleigh through the following watery days, stopping to discover ice skates amongst icicles and a crown behind frozen water droplets.
It was the winds of great untamed plains who brought the tiny baby for the princess to encounter, being rocked by the song of bell skirted angels, and the delight of recognition I felt in both of them as I set up the picture was one of the very touching moments of this creating.
Then the lion with his warmth came at a time when in the world at large, qualities of courage, love, strength and dignity felt especially poignant.
One of the last parts of this story-land to become was the dwelling of the princess, placed at the beginning of the journey; and that of the prince, which waits until the last week of Advent to be opened. It seemed retrospectively that this two into one button heart shaped yurt was waiting specifically for and to be the culmination and completion.
And then in its simplicity it formed the centre of this becoming,
both for play...
and of the this story of gratitude and love for the world of earth, water, wind and fire.
The story of the snow princess and her journey through her snowy land of wonder at Advent tide, as she opens magical doorways and peeps into frozen puddles can be seen here.
The song within the video is from my childhood and the poem was given to me by my mother from her notebook, in response to this winter's journey.
Velvet shoes by Elinor Wylie
Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space
With footsteps quiet and slow
At a tranquil pace
Under veils of white lace
I shall go shoed in silk
And you in wool
White as white cow's milk
Than the breast of a gull
We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace
We shall step upon white down
Upon silver fleece
Upon softer than these