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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Seeing spirits is a common thing in the Celtic traditions. A glimpse out of the corner of your eye, a shimmer in the air, or a full film-like vision- the second sight, or more accurately, the two sights- an da shealladh- as it is known can take on all sorts of forms. It often seems to run in families, and it runs in mine to varying degrees. It is both a blessing and a curse, sometimes, and requires a very flexible yet strong sense of reality to stay grounded in the face of such experiences. Traditionally tales tell us that it is especially useful to foretell a death, but it is seldom so dramatic, or so straightforward in real life. Because the thing is, seeing spirits, just like seeing anything else in this life, isn’t necessarily all that directly useful all the time. It would be wonderful to say that everything I’ve ever seen has been clearly meaningful, and relating to my life and those around me, but like seeing anything corporeal in this world, its foolish to presume it’s all about you, and there are a great many things about the workings of the spirits that we just don’t know, and will never know when we walk the mortal path. Some things just are just getting on with what they do, and aren’t there to instruct or warn or do anything useful for you at all. In a way that can be much scarier than seeing ghosts or the trapped, caught- on- a- loop type energy recordings that are so often what people experience when they are somewhere haunted. There is no narrative for us, necessarily, any more than there is in seeing a stranger cross the road- it’s not a message for you- other than to say the Otherworlds are far vaster and more varied than we’ll ever know. 

That said, there are also friends out there, allies, and kin, regular welcome visitors…and those that walk with you sometimes. It’s traditional to make these offerings, and I reserve a special dish on my hearth and in my garden to leave them gifts of cream, honey and mead, as well as the best portion of every cake I ever bake. One such visited me a few weeks ago, busting into the room behind me in such a rush that at first I thought it was my son. A few moments later I experienced the first proper earthquake I’d ever felt, measured 4.4 on the Richter scale. A very rare thing for the UK. Was their visit a warning? Could I have stopped the earthquake? Of course not, and there was no danger for me and those I loved…no, it was not a warning. But it was lovely they came to tell me all the same. An da shealladh doesn’t always have a use, it’s not like in the movies, but it’s still a gift, in the long term, if you are strong enough…to see a wider reality, and feel a wider, greater sense of kin. I still think a greater sense of scale, in the heart and in the mind- is a good thing.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Danu Forest
    Danu Forest says #
    Thanks Ted! i like to think the hill just shrugged off what it didnt want!
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is delightful, Danu. Thank you for the timely reminder that it's foolish to presume it's all about you! You're right: a gre

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Though many Celtic pagans celebrate the new year at Samhain, early January still has a distinct feeling, as the hubbub of the winter solstice and Christmas celebrations subsides and we are left with the blank page of the year ahead. Now is a good time to encourage stillness and contemplation within our days if we are able, and to be aware of keeping our energies clear to allow the wisdom of spirit to emerge into our awareness and maintain our focus on our plans ahead. Traditionally for those who acknowledge the 12 days of Christmas there is an opportunity to seek omens each of the twelve days for guidance in the year ahead, but truly the world of spirit always shows us signs and messages if we open up to their potential. Seeking time every day to find stillness and open ourselves to the natural world around us allows us to receive this messages at any time.

Throughout January spend some time, even for just a few minutes, outside. Be in wild nature if you can, but just feeling the earth beneath your feet, or seeing the sky or having the wind on your face is all you need. Breath deeply and let your senses open gently, focusing on nothing in particular…let yourself remember that the earth is alive and sacred, wherever you are, and just connect. Be with it. Be aware of the flight of birds, the shapes of clouds, the sound the wind makes, know that spirit is speaking to us always, and let their meaning and messages come to you in each its own way. Listen. Breathe. Pay attention to your dreams.  

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Imbolc and Brighid's blessing

 

Imbolc blessings to you! 

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In the Celtic tradition, the Sun is female, a divine light and life bringer, so the Summer Solstice honours this season as a time of great fruitful goddess energy, but also a time of great power. In Celtic times summer solstice fires would be lit on beacon hills and high places to honour the sun and ward away evil, as this is a time when the veil between the worlds is said to be thin, encouraging interchange between the world and the spirit realm.

Sacred hills such as Cnoc Áine in Limerick, Ireland, named after the sun goddess Áine, were places of great ceremony in Celtic times, with fires lit there until at least 1879. Áine was also known as a Queen of the Faeries, the Sidhe, and one tale tells of how she emerged from the hill to ask the revellers to head home early so her people could come out for their own celebrations.  Her sister is the Goddess Griéne, meaning 'Sun' is associated with Cnoc Griéne , also in Limerick. It's likely that both these hills were once beacons hills with Fires lit to honour the solstice since ancient times. 

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  • Tony Lima
    Tony Lima says #
    This day I wonder if she really cares about being honored. Keeping her secrets in knowledge of time and place, yes - a vital esse
  • Tony Lima
    Tony Lima says #
    This day I wonder if she really cares about being honored. Keeping her secrets in knowledge of time and place, yes - a vital esse

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

This year we decided to take a small break and celebrate Samhain and honour our ancestors by visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, and join their revelries. It was a spectacular night. As we descended along the twisty lane to enter the small fishing village in the gathering dusk we were met by a host of witches, tourists and black clad Morris men- traditional British folk dancers with flaming torches and crow feathers in their tall top hats. The sound of drums and fiddles echoed off the cliffs above and mingled with the sounds of the sea and the reeling gulls.

Traditional Border Morris men (or sides) wear the colour black, to leave their identity behind and take on the role of spirits as they honour the underworld and the winter to come. They danced to ancient songs, their feet mirroring the turn of the year and the battles between winter and summer in the courtyard of the museum, where the many a witch of generations passed has donated their magical tools, and beneath the library that holds the history of our traditions going back centuries.  The audience around them sat or stood enrapt, many of them being those who walk the old ways themselves, bedecked in their cloaks, with wide eyed children sitting at their feet dressed as sprites and spirits.

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  • Danu Forest
    Danu Forest says #
    Gerrie i love those books too! i think they encouraged a lot of us on the path...british folklore is much overlooked but is very r
  • Gerrie
    Gerrie says #
    I learned of the Mari Lwyd in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. For a young American just beginning her Pagan path, this s
Interstice: Appropriation Looks Like This

This is just a quick, interstitial post about a thing I found online today. The attached meme tells us that the word 'tenalach' is Irish and 'describes a relationship one has with the land, air and water, a deep connection that allows one to literally hear the Earth sing'.

According to my Irish dictionary and the researches of several Irish-speaking commenters on the original post, this word does not exist in the language. In fact, it violates a basic principle of Irish spelling.

Folks, this is what cultural appropriation looks like. It matters less that the spiritual concept is gorgeous and fulfilling than it does that Irish language and culture were inappropriately overlaid upon it to lend it legitimacy. Irish deserves better than that and so do the people who speak it.

 

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    This reminds me of the 1990s when a long poem about saving the environment attributed wrongly to Chief Sealth (the guy that Seattl
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree it's best to object to these sorts of things whenever we see them, both for the sak

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