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SageWoman Blogs

At SageWoman magazine, we believe that you are the Goddess, and we're devoted to celebrating your journey. We invite you to subscribe today and join our circle...

Here in the SageWoman section of PaganSquare, our bloggers represent the multi-faceted expressions of the Goddess, feminist, and women's spirituality movements.

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A time of magic and transformation, sacred to the goddess Brighid, is upon us at the eve of Imbolc,  Lá Fhéile Bríde  as it is known in Irish and Là Fhèill Brìghde as it is known in Scottish Gaelic. Brighid is one of our oldest and most revered of goddesses, Britain and Brittany are both named after Her, she is the sacred guardian of these countries. Her special festival, Imbolc, is one of the oldest Celtic festivals- one of the most famous sacred sites in Ireland, the mound of the hostages at Tara, built around 3350BC is astronomically aligned to the Imbolc sunrise, and there are several others, showing us that this time has been sacred for thousands of years. Thought to mean ‘in the belly’ Imbolc is a time when the ewes are pregnant and the new lambs are born, and when the year ahead is still pregnant with possibility.

There is something so special about this quiet, wintery time, when the first new shoots may be breaking through the soil but winter still continues fierce for a while yet. Today I woke at dawn to frosty world of white and silver, and I cleaned the hearth and kindled the fire in Brighid's name, adapting a traditional Celtic kindling prayer from the Outer-Hebrides.

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Imbolc As the Cailleach Leaves

...and Brighid prepares to arrive in her Maiden rainment. In Ireland I always marvel at how the old tales still mimic weather wisdom.  The saying goes the Cailleach goes and gathers firewood on Imbolc for the rest of the winter. If the weather is sunny it means that she needs to stock up for more cold. But if there is precipitation then it will set fare and she needs not re-stock. Of course, the old people round where I live now used to say "A fair February crushes the rest of the year!" But old bachelor farmers are not life's optimists. Anyway, this was the way the Hag in the Mountain was extravagently garbed yesterday round my way.

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Stillness and Strength: A Runic Reflection at Imbolc

Images and memes traditionally associated with Imbolc are showing up on social media now, as they do every year. I enjoy seeing the hearty crocus push through the snow, the candle illuminating a frozen landscape, and the dormant seed waiting underground to burst forth into life. All of these symbols and motifs encourage the weary heart that the cold, dark days are ending.   

It’s not exactly how I experience Imbolc, though. 

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Life's Patience Training

 

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An Imbolc Mystery: Brigid and the Making of Vows

In the velvet darkness between the worlds, a welcoming light shines bright and steady. Here Brigid tends Her holy well and sacred flame, offering up their life-transforming magic that grants the gifts of healing, inspiration and wisdom for those who seek Her guidance. She does not call us to Her side, for She knows that we will find Her when the time is ripe. 

As Nature shifts from the dark dormancy of Winter to the life-inducing powers of the strengthening sun that herald the approach of Spring, our desire for the spring of new possibilities and the end of the long winter of our soul drives us to Brigid’s doorstep. Our mind turns to the seeds of our beauty and wounding, sourced from our Deep Self and life story, that hold the next pieces of our pathwork, and our soul turns to Brigid’s loving, gracious presence and Her tremendous powers that can make our life anew.

Trust these powerful hungers and impulses stirring within you. Trust that life-transforming change is possible, and that Brigid can help you in this essential soul work. Trust that your shining inner light is kin to Her shining light, and in the spirit of this kinship you will find your way to Her realm between the worlds.

When you reach the threshold of Brigid’s realm, you’ll discover a thick oak door with an ancient key, greened by age and the elements – the key of conscious choice. Your soul desire has led you to Brigid, now you must consciously choose to turn the key, knowing that to stand before this mighty, generous Goddess is to commit yourself to Her healing ways. And once you have made this commitment, it is not easily unmade; when you open the door that connects you to Brigid, it can never truly be shut again.

As you step over the threshold, Brigid welcomes you with a warm, captivating smile, Her cheeks flushed slightly with the heat of Her forge. She is breathtaking to behold, with long, fiery red tresses, creamy white skin, and a tall, slender form draped in a dark green mantle. Though Her beauty is as bright as the flames She tends, it is the palpable presence of Her love and kindness that is your strongest impression of Her.

Both the flames and Brigid’s radiance seep through your flesh, swiftly thawing the frozen places in your heart. When you look into Her startling green eyes, you see the life you are longing for reflected in their soulful depth, and Her desire to help make your dreams come true. You do not need to speak these things to Brigid, She already knows you, inside and out, deep and true. 

“Let us see what hidden knowledge and healing visions await you at this time of Imbolc,” She says.

With Her long, expressive fingers, Brigid beckons you to a shallow, black stone bowl filled with the waters of Her holy well. She directs your gaze to its still, flat surface, illuminated by the flickering lights of Her sacred flame.

Images arise in a swift procession from the close-up and intimate of your life to the wide-scope of the greater world. Brigid’s scrying waters do not spare you from the ugly and the painful. You are shown the hurt places inside of you and their symbiotic expression in your outer existence, and then, broader still, to the same patterns that exist in human society. 

“These images tell the one story of the seed of your wounding,” Brigid says, “What is inside is outside, and what is outside is inside; your inner world reveals itself in your outer existence, and your personal life is both trapped within the strictures of collective reality and you help re-create this reality with your day-to-day choices and actions.”

Brigid passes Her hands over the basin’s surface and new images appear, this time offering a mélange of the beautiful and inspiring, again drawing both on your personal life and the greater world.  Some of the images you recognize from your current existence and others feel achingly familiar, like a longed-for possibility that has yet to take form.
   
“These images tell the one story of the seed of your beauty,” Brigid says, “Just as with your wounding, what is inside and outside both inform and infuse the other. By the beauty and goodness of individuals, the beauty and goodness of human society emerges.”

With a swirling motion of her fingertips, Brigid activates Her holy water’s visionary magic one last time. The previous images blend and merge, entwining the stories of your beauty and wounding, both in their personal and collective manifestations. And you see, from the depth of your being, that your beauty and wounding are mirrors of the same thing; there is really only one story, the story of your life, woven from all that you are, and all that you’ve ever experienced, defined and constrained within the matrix of collective reality. 

Together you step away from the scrying bowl. Brigid turns to face you and says, “Everything has a place and purpose, even the most painful and challenging of these images. Life, with its joys and sorrows, is the crucible of your spiritual healing and evolution. You would not be who you are now, standing here with me on the cusp of your greater becoming, within having gone through these trials and experiences. Great beauty and power are forged from great wounding and suffering, tempered by a wisdom, love and compassion that a life fully embraced, in its light and shadow, can grant you.

“My scrying bowl has revealed to you the seeds and stories that are the makings of the new beginning ready to emerge from within you. They are the raw materials that will drive the healing pathwork that is before you now.

“You must tend these seeds in preparation for your springtime of new growth. Your life is their soil, your love their water, and your conscious awareness their sunshine. With proper care, they will show you the way of your healing and transformation, and your path forward to the life of soul you are longing for.

“Are you ready to take this next crucial step on your journey of soul? Will you commit yourself to the sacred task of tending your seeds of beauty and wounding, and letting them guide you in your pathwork?”

Think hard before you answer Brigid, for this is a special, powerful kind of commitment — a vow spoken before Her sacred forge, where the old is made anew. She will hold you to this commitment, and your life will be forever changed.

With a simple “yes”, you bind yourself to Brigid.

“So it is chosen, so it will be,” She says.

Three times Her hammer strikes Her anvil, hard steel against hard steel, ringing your vow outward into the listening Universe.

Then Brigid kisses your brow and presses Her palm against your solar plexus. A warm, swirling energy passes between you, and you sense the visions of Her scrying waters now alive and brewing in your belly center. She smiles one last smile, filling the space and your heart with Her radiance, and then She is gone.

Yet Her kiss remains, a token that She will never leave your side. The visioning magic of this Imbolc eve will bring you the healing, inspiration and wisdom you need to tend your seeds of beauty and wounding.  As you tend your seeds, discovering and embracing their place and purpose on your journey of soul, Brigid tends them with you, coaxing out their healing and creative impulses. And as you shift and grow, bringing positive change to your life and the greater world, Her joy shines down on you, filling you up with the bright flame of Her nourishing love.

Photo Credit: Christian Holzinger on Unsplash

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When my heart is sore, I go to the river. When I want to forget my human separateness and remember how I am merged with nature, I go to the river. When I wish I had a sister to talk to, or a lover to hold me, I go to the river. The river is always there.

Sometimes it is in a fierce mood, with a strong current and leaves and debris sweeping down. Often it is gentle, the water soft as it washes around me and the view above – a ribbon of sky, with clouds, birds, framed by tall trees on either side – holds me serenely, telling me of the changing constancy of this place. Today there’s a bird, tomorrow clouds, the next day I watch leaves falling down the height of the tallest tree towards me, swimming underneath. Sometimes the mood is sleepy, the water not moving if it hasn’t rained for a while, leaves gathering undisturbed on the surface and the temperature layered down, mild on the surface but cool, colder, cold as it chills down through the water’s depths.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Meredith, Thanks for sharing that! I also honor the local river gods, but the water is too polluted to swim in. Textile mills

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Traditionally, oak symbolizes strength, prosperity, protection, and overall blessings. 

 

Oak is a standard wand for witches, druids, and others, since it represents power.

 

Lore tells us oak is a door to Faerie realms and their mysteries. The name of the Ogham letter that corresponds to oak is Dair.  To the best of my knowledge, Dair relates to the English word door

 

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