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!
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
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.