Belated greetings for the feast of Brigid, goddess and matron saint of Ireland. Her feast runs from the eve (31st January) to 2nd February. Celtic festivals generally run three days. But feasts are flexible things – if you go by the lunar calculations it was just past 10pm last night in my time zone. Spring comes slowly. Just as healing often does. Brigid, both as a goddess and saint, is associated with healing. Which I have – impatiently – been doing.
Keyboard typing still tires and feels sore if I overuse it. But I did not want to miss out on sending out harbingings of renewal. I picked green rushes on Monday in the rain and wove a few St. Brigid’s crosses to give to friends and family. I also hung out my Brat Bríde on Sunday night to collect St. Brigid’s blessings and healing energy. It has been suggested on Brigid’s Way’s website that we should hang out our face masks. Good idea. Last year I used mine as the inner layer of my first handsewn face masks during Lockdown 1. This year I sent some to people I know recovering from Covid19.
Brigid’s Day is ideal for a celebration in isolation. It was, until recent years, a home made celebration of hearth and farmyard. Its myths tell of the Winter Hag, the cailleach, who tries to hang on to her season. Yet, the maiden, the new life, will have its season. She is coming, inexorably, inevitably. Even the frosted snowdrops know this. They can feel the earth beneath us warming. The hibernating animals known their drowsy days are numbered.
I spent Monday writing poems, too. Because Brigid is the matron of poetry, too. She also is the Skill Woman, the smithy at the forge, creating by changing. She encompasses all the elements – water of the holy healing wells, the forge’s fire, the whisper of balmy air some days, the earth that is silently greening even under the frost or snow.
Imbolc is considered a threshold time of year. St. Brigid is said to have been born on a threshold. The folklore is that her dairy maid mother was taken in labour while she was milking. The legend says that she grasped the doorframe to support her as her daugher slid to earth just as dawn broke. Sort of a double liminality – dawn and doorway.
St. Brigid's Day The hinge creaks, stiff with winter's ice and cold, wind battered, rain rusted. The door's swollen. It needs elbow grease to give. Go Heave-ho! The door's wood's expanded, shut tight, chosen to block out winter's worst. But now it's time to open the door, welcome this season. There's still snow on the mountain if you climb but down low the pasture is beginning to green. The birds have changed their polyphany, too. This morning the blackbird turned, stared me down, daring winter to stay. We have got through. Light after darkness. The wheel circles round. The door opens. So it creaks. May it sing! The blackbird knows that it is time for spring. Elementary Just this...that all we have is each other. This earth I stand upon and walk is my spine and skeleton bone. Water that runs through us, underneath. surrounding, was amniotic ocean, arterial flow, a body glowing, sap in each limb rising, reaching to sun and air. Oh breathe, Tree! Inhale! Exhale your sweet self so I may inhale. Lightening was fire's first spark, electrified. Thunder rolled off the mountain,then came rain, wind swept and angled, falling fast and hard. Huddled in caves with each other we yearned until flint on flint sparked, lighting dry twig.
May you feel the blessings of increasing light and warmth this Imbolc season.
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