Night Walk

Happy St. Brigid’s Day! For those of you who live outside the British Isles, more particularly Ireland and Scotland, you may never know the exquisite excitement of this celebration. It is ancient and modern. Originally, there was a goddess Brighid who had a fire temple in what is now Kildare, tended by nineteen priestesses. Then, in 453 CE, along came a child named Brigit, daughter of a dairy maid slave woman and a noble, or maybe Druidic, father. She was born on the cusp of a new day and slid into this world on the threshold of the dairy where her mother laboured. Later she spurned marriage as an inevitable option for a female, founded an order of nuns, wangled land from the King of Leinster, founded and abbey and was a bishop. She also had nineteen nuns who tended that eternal flame, just as the priestesses had for the goddess Brighid. When Henry VIII smote the abbeys that flame was extinguished. But it was re-kindled in 1992 by some Brigindine nuns in Kildare at the end of an AFRI conference considering Peace and Reconciliation.

So whether you like the ancient version or the modern version, this is her holiday season. Last night I pegged out some cloth as Brat Bríds. One is made of Irish Prison Service sheet. St. Brigit is the patron saint of prisoners. Some will be sent to friends who are ailing. St. Brigit and the goddess have a mission for healing, for bringing peace and reconciliation into a fevered world. I shall keep some for making clouties to leave at her holy wells, for St. Brigit (and the goddess) not only are associated with the eternal flame of hope and faith, but all the holy wells where you can plunge to the source of unconditional love and inspiration.

Basically, the feisty abbess of Kildare is an all round good model for the 21st century. She was kindness itself to the lame, sick, distressed and marginal. She had no truck with accumulated wealth in the face of suffering and famously sold her father’s sword to pay for a cloak to cloth a beggar. (She really was an Aggravating Woman to both her father and the King of Leinster. In this way, she worried patriarchy. So she is a bit of a feminist icon, too.)

But I digress from the poetry practice. Because she is also the patron saint of poets. Last night I hung out the bits of cloth to capture her blessings as she walked across the land on the eve of her feast day. There was frost on that sheet when I brought it in this morning. It is gently steaming dry for me to take to my re-scheduled workshop.

Night Walk

St. Brigid takes a night walk
even though the moon's glow is low.
She passes through every parish,
past badgers' dens and hare hollows.
Brigid walks along coastal strands,
hailing oyster catchers and sea gulls.
At dawn she walks into the sky
having spread her blessings
trailing from her miraculous cloak
upon the land,
having left her blessings
to invoke renewal
within the land,
having brought Her blessing
spreading her mantle of love
over everyone
across the land.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Have a blessed Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day.

Brigid's Way
Available as a Kindle on Amazon

Cover image by Amy Bogard at amybogard.com


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Bear It

I feel as if I am back to poetry etude land today. I slept for twelve hours, right round the clock, with only one little interval breaking into the all those REM cycles. But not waking early has addled me some. But I suppose I needed the rest.

So bears have been in mind. Partly because it cropped up as a image on a friend’s Facebook page (Angel Dance Transcendance Arts). But also, partly because bear is one of the lesser known animal totems for the goddess Brighid (as opposed to St. Brigid). In the run up to Imbolc in January, I plop my Brigid Bear onto my altar to honour that ancient association.

The model for today’s featured image is the creation of Anke Morganroth’s Bear Essentials https://www.bearessentials.ie/ She is a limited edition Cuilcagh Bear, Cuilcagh being the mountain that dominates the West Cavan horizon.

But in terms of the Poetry Daily, I settled on some word play today. There are elevenies and octets. So I decided to write six lines of six syllables each on bear.

Bear

We place terrible strength
into a toddler's arms.
Now into each night's sleep,
its sweet, plush fur embraced,
there the young soul to keep.
Watch, bear! Your charm life's length.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in exploring more about the myth and spiritual presence of the goddess Brighid and St. Brigid, there is my Kindle book of poems “Brigid’s Way: Reflections on the Celtic Divine Feminine” on sale on Amazon.

On the Threshold Hovering

You heard of the Lost Weekend? Well, how about a mislaid month? We supposedly cross the threshold of the New Year on 1st January, but it feels like 2018 has been stalled from the start. Being post-flu, post-viral has sapped most of January of any juice; my concentration was blown and needing ten hours sleep a day can put a crimp in one’s productivity. Anything done this month feels an achievement. But it also contributes to the feeling that the threshold of 2018 has not been crossed. Anecdotal evidence collected from friends suggests I am not alone  in this observation. One friend said it felt like the old business 2017 hung over this January making it seem like a thirteen month year.

Fortunately, in Ireland we have the festival of incoming Springtime on 1st February, le Féile Bríd – Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, the old feast of the fertility goddess Brighid vanquishing her crone/Cailleach aspect and arising reborn as the youthful Maiden. Imbolc then is a liminal time, another threshold to cross and begin 2018 in earnest.

Also most fortunate, Brigid/Brighid, whether as saint or goddess, is matron to poets and other ‘makers’. So her feast is special to bards and poets, songwriters and artisans, craftspeople of every ilk or silk, and to healers. For in making and creating, we manifest cures, too.

But, back to thresholds. The cover boy for this blog is a wild cat that I have been taming this since autumn 2016 when he began to attach himself to our property. First, we gave him a kennel. Now he has a basket beside a radiator.  Building trust has been slow and painstaking – and I have the scabs from claw marks to prove it! Being formerly feral, he may never completely let go of fear. He may accept our food, love, comfort and care enough to come in from the cold. But will he be able to cast out fear enough to love us in return? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, he and The Old Dog have formed an alliance of aloofness. All they require of one another is that they share oxygen proximally. Another brick in Felix’ House of Belonging, as poet David Whyte styles it.

We all have fears, large and small, that hold us hand on door lintel, immobile. Fear separates us for love, connection and a sense of belonging. The message of St. Brigid and the Celtic goddess before her is in the English cognate within her name – a bridge. And bridges are very special liminal, threshold places. They can be windy places, vertigo inducing spaces. But they take us across to a shore, a beginning or new phase. Liminal places are ‘edgy’ in every sense of the word.

How might 1st February be a threshold place where you overcome some fear in favour of love?  Which,  it has to said, is a large part of the recipe for what Brené Brown calls ‘wholehearted living.’  How might wholehearted living feel or look in 2018? How might an early Christian abbess and proto-femininist and an ancient goddess lead you to have the courage to cross a threshold?

If you would like to learn more about some of the legends surrounding miraculous Brigid, Goddess and Saint, you can read my poems inspired by Her in my ebook  Brigid’s Way: Reflections on the Celtic Divine Feminine.

No matter how you spell her name, Brigid is the well of inspiration and the flame of purification. May it be so!

Brigit of Kildare

Here is one of my poems included in the collection, which also appears in the anthology edited by Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott., Brigit: Sun of Womanhood

Brigit’s Mantle

Lay me down upon your cloak –

Swaddle me. Sing to me

your secrets of always enough.

 

Lay me down upon your cloak –

Wrap me snug.  Tell me a story.

The miracle of always enough

 

Lay me down upon your cloak-

Rock me. Gently now lay me

down in the source of always enough

 

© Bee Smith, 2009. All rights reserved.