Brighid’s Day to come

I was in that liminal state between sleeping and waking the other day. I was thinking about Imbolc, Brighid’s Day, and thinking how much I like it. Samhain is the most meaningful of the holy days for me, Winter Solstice/Yule the most fun, but there is something about Imbolc that just inspires me. The thought of the spring (and summer to come) gives me hope. I’ve noticed the days getting brighter earlier and staying brighter longer and I feel the earth beginning to warm a bit, even through the snow. My Fedco order is in and I wait for the seeds I’ll sow. I’ve started figuring out whether this will be my year for chickens and I’m making a list of what I need to do to clean out the ornamental garden. This winter has my garden so confused. My Butterfly Bush began putting out little green leaves only to be hit by the very cold temperatures of the last week. I’ll cut it back before we warm up again but I empathized with its confusion. I’m used to the tempo of cold northern winters and the warm, wet, weather we have had is disconcerting.

All that in the moments between sleeping and waking…but mostly I thought about Brighid herself. I have seen so many representations of her but she always seems to be shown as a maidenly goddess. She is the goddess of healing, of creativity, of fertility, of fire and of health. We associate her with Spring and with the lambs that come early. Her maidenly avatars, clean and pure, have never struck a chord with me and so I have never really had a mental image of the Goddess Brighid. She just was, which, when you come down to it is really what every goddess and god is, they are there, immanent. They don’t really need an image, we just need them to have an image, I just need an image. It is just so much easier to make a connection when I can envision the goddess or god as I meditate upon them or try to commune.

I was so pleased, and more than a bit surprised when I saw the goddess herself in that place between. She came walking towards me, leading a lamb on a string by one hand and carrying a trowel in her other. She was short and plump/stocky and her reddish brown hair was in pigtails. She had freckles and a smile that made me feel good to be alive. She wore overalls, blue denim overalls and she was clearly a working goddess. She radiated common sense and joie de vivre and she was everything that Spring was about. I was, and am, honored that she came to me. She didn’t speak, and I just smiled, and she gave me a face for spring.

I just wish I’d been able to ask her about those chickens.

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Winter Solstice

A brown Michigan solstice.  No snow, and warm enough that my butterfly bush is sprouting leaves.  I noticed that after the Solstice the sun seems to linger longer in the sky.  My science says that change in the length of the day is not  something I can really notice at this time but my body and my soul see it.  The light at the end of the day stays just that little bit longer and I know that the sun is returning, the world is turning and the earth is remembering the joy of growing.

Here is our ritual for Solstice this year.  We worked indoors.  It was mild out but so wet nothing would burn.  We used a golden beeswax candle for the Sun King and our Solstice candles (5 green candles we burn from the beginning of December through the Solstice.)  I wrote a Solstice Carol for the occasion as well.

Winter Solstice Ritual 2011

Prepare the altar.  At a minimum use a candle for the Sun King, and some holly or evergreen.

(Yundah)

Guardian of the East, the rising sun, bring new life and warmth to us, watch us and guard us.

Guardian of the South, the unchanging sun, bring permanence and stability to us, watch us and guard us. 

Guardian of the West, the setting sun, cool us and give us respite, watch us and guard us. 

Guardian of the North, ever-changing sun, give us strength and flexibility, watch us and guide us. 

(E)

The Holly King has ruled us since Summer’s Solstice past.

(Yundah)

The Goddess has given birth to the Oak King

Through that birth, 

through the Goddess’s fertility, 

the sun, her son, will lend his light and strength to us 

The sun 

The Goddess 

will shine their light 

and fields will grow

babies will be born

and the darkness of winter will be left behind.  

(E)

I speak for the Sun King

His light will shine

He will wake the earth

I speak for the Oak King 

His branches will shade us 

His strength will sustain us

(Yundah)

I speak for the Mother

Her skies will shelter us

Her rains will feed us

Her love will sustain us. 

Now at this time of transition

When all we love are near, both here and afar, above and below

We join in celebrating the gift of light.

(Both)

We thank the Holly King for his care of the earth.

He lulls it to sleep, lets it rest

and prepares it for the bounty of its harvest.

(E lights Sun Candle.)

(Both)

We wish for peace across the planet

We wish joy for those who have none

We wish love for those who are loveless

We wish contentment for all.

(Yundah)

Do you have anything you’d like to add? 

(If any of the participants wish to add something to the ritual they may do so here.)

(E)

We thank you Guardians of East, South, West and North.  

You protect us throughout the year

Know that we treasure that protection.  

I release the circle.

Both

So mote it be.

Bright Solstice to you all.  May your year to come be full of joy and contentment.

Harvest time is here

Suddenly it was August 1, a cross quarter day, Lughnasadh (or Lammas) and the summer seems to be ready to end.  Lughnasadh begins my favorite time of year.  I can perceive the change occurring in the light.  The days seem to be getting shorter.  There is fog in the morning on the fields, wisps of clouds chasing across the road as I drive along.  Change in the air and the promise of the harvest.

Lughnasadh, Mabon and Samhain are my three favorite holy days.  They celebrate the bounty and the beauty of the earth but keep us grounded, make us realize that life is change; for, as the season progresses, we harvest the crops, the leaves change and drop from the trees, and the grass (finally) stops growing.   This is the time of year when my memories of my parents become more prominent.   I look forward to Samhain when I can send my respect and greetings to them and others who have passed.

This season is a celebration of life.  Sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini (lots of zucchini), blueberries, peaches, apples, all of these become ripe and ready to be eaten and enjoyed.

The light may be dying, heading toward winter and the long, dark, nights, but life burgeons.  Enjoy the harvest and celebrate life.