Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years

Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism

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Exit the Cailleach, Welcome Brigid!

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The Cailleach did not depart without a bit of drama in Ireland. I woke Imbolc eve to snowflakes. We had hail thjat fell like shrapnel. We had sleet. She lashed us and threw down steely stair rods of rain. The wind bayed. Your fingers froze. Friends speculated that our cloth Brat Bríd's would be ripped from the bushes and clothes lines and we would be bereft of the goddess blessing this spring. As nightfall descended the cloud cover was so thick the supermoon was as veiled as if she had still been eclipsed. But enter the Divine Feminine reborn...and repurposed.

The cloud parted and the Cailleach departed before sunrise. Over towards the coast, to the southwest the full moon hung bright and low to the horizon. My little black cat, Sparkle, was intent on going out to moon bathe. I opened the door and welcomed Bríd. And the brat was still intact, the clip still secure. I brought it in, sodden with rain, to dry.

I drummed the Cailleach out in ritual with woman friends yesterday on Imbolc eve. And I drummed the maiden in. It felt as if at this Blood Moon that generations of female ancestors were arriving in wave upon wave to support women. 'Enough!', they said. The feminine is divine, too. Too long has it been ignored, belittled, baracked, wounded and blooded.

Imbolc is considered a simple, domestic celebration, one with many agricultural atavisms and customs, especially here in Ireland.However, in the saint who assumed the mantle of divine feminine sovereignty in place of the goddess we have a much more complex story, one that is exceptionally modern despite arising from fifth century Ireland.


Brigit, the Abbess of Kildare, was a formidable force of nature, infused by Goddess energy, and one who definitely did not stand down before patriarchy. While Christianity might be problematic for some pagans, as a feminist, I also celebrate St. Brigit for manifesting a place of honourand independence for women in a changing Ireland that saw the recession of women's rights and status. She kept that eternal flame burning in so many ways. And she is still loved and venerated by many who honour her Spirit, even though a goddess is a bit of a foreign concept.


We weave rushes into crosses. We hang out our Brat Bríd. We write poems to honour Her. For her time is come again. She has kept the faith with women in all travails and triumphs. She adapted. She survived. Just as each and everyone of of the ancestral women in our lineages survived for us to be here now.

Over the past twenty years I have encountered Brigid in many guises. She has scorched me, washed me in tears, grounded me,  built me up, taken me down a peg, told me to buckle down or buckle up for bumpy rides. But always, she has been beside me and all around me on the journey. The poems I have collected in my chapbook "Brigid's Way: Reflections on the Celtic Feminine" are just a selection of writing inspired by my encounters with the Goddess.


This poem does not appear in the collection, but I offer it to you this Imbolc as the Cailleach exits and the new phase begins with the Maiden reborn.




Laid down inside cold

Damp ground

Dreaming in the darkness


Laid down, the kernel

The core asleep

Breathing in the darkness


Lying down, pierced by a sliver

A quiver’s full of rays

Shivering in the darkness


Lying down, shivering,

Pulling, pushing, clawing at

The dreaming in the darkness


Lying still, yet not quite

Sleeping, still deep in

The dream in the darkness


Pushing way, moving around

Making a way, pulling up

Rising from the darkness


Rising from the sunken deep

Blinking, stretching, sensing

Unfurling from the darkness


Awakening awake

Fully shaped, facing the light

Made by the dreaming darkness


27 January 2018

Copyright Bee Smith

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Bee Smith has enjoyed a long relationship with SageWoman as a contributor, columnist and blogger. She lives in the Republic of Ireland, teaches creative writing and is a member of the Irish Art Council's Writers in Prisons panel. She is the author of "Brigid's Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine."    


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