Posts Tagged ‘bride’
Our second sacred site to visit on this glorious Imbolc day – February 2nd actually – was the church of The Bride herself - St Bridget’s in Bridekirk. Well, what else could you call a church in a village called Bridekirk – “kirk” being the old word for “church”? It’s The Bride’s church!
We must have missed all the fuss the day before when it was the official celebration day, because we were coming out on the 2nd February instead of the 1st. In every way the second felt like the better day! The weather was better, the day warmer, drier, and the scenery at least viewable on this day! Bridget wouldn’t mind, we felt.
As I wandered gently through the churchyard I saw a sight that caught my eye. It was a section of a yew tree, and it had been decorated with stones and other objects - like the Yule Log of old tradition, I thought to myself. How odd! But how nice too.
As we continued through the churchyard Kal zoomed off. I switched on my dowsing senses but not using the dowsing rods, only using my dowsing sense. I asked to be taken to a place where I need to be. It turned out to be quite an unusual place!
I feel like this is the first proper post of the year. Imbolc always feels like a door opening, a gateway swinging wide to let in the rush of the new year’s energies. This year especially so, for some reason. The anticipation, as always, had been eager, and so like two whippets let loose from a leash Kal and I hurtled towards Cumbria’s finest fells in the spring-fresh morning of an awakening sun. The day was bright, clear, the sky blue and uncovered. The Bride was waiting at the altar, and we were heading down the aisle to meet her – like… two whippets? That analogy so totally doesn’t work when you carry it through!
Our first stop on a packed itinerary was a well. I hadn’t actually planned the day to coincide with my recent Camelot Oracle draw – the agenda had been set even before that – yet the first card I had drawn for that reading was to place Merlin at The Wells on Imbolc. Sometimes the cards are so accurate that I wonder how we have any free choice at all!
A Morning Dip
Anna’s Well, or Stanger Spa, is a recently renovated saline well, which is unusual because it’s quite far away from any obvious salt source, unless there is chlorine or rock salt underneath somewhere. Normally we choose to go to a well first so that I can do some form of purification ritual. I like to cleanse myself of the worldly energies before embarking on a new year’s work and a new quest. This day I would be hoping for both a new quest and a new spirit guide. Absolution through a saline solution seemed appropriate. First, however, we have to get there.
Anna is probably a christianisation (if that’s a proper verb) of the earlier pagan Annan – a form of the triple goddess. Seemed highly appropriate on this, the first of the goddess’ feast days.
As we walked along a well-used bridleway we imagined that the going would be easy, however as is usually the case we were soon to meet an obstacle that would challenge our resolve and determination. We rounded a corner to meet the shining sight of a long iced-over pool of water that practically barred our path. Even in sturdy walking boots I baulked at the prospect of wading through the icy water. Then a foolish thought chimed in – would Kal fall, or would his new waterproof shoes save him waterlogged feet from the outset today? I raced to the end of the track to get a good vantage point on the forthcoming action!
Something was helping Kal this day. He stayed both dry and upright! Maybe I’ll have to sack the sidekick? He’s not providing the usual levels of comedy value these days! We made it over the water, the hill and across the frozen marshland to reach the well’s building.
The festival of Imbolc has several elements which are of interest to the energy worker and druid:-
- It sees the return of the male earth energies that have been so weak as to be non-existent during the Winter months.
- It is the time when the energy form Brigid (or Bridget, Bride) can be felt, seen and interacted with at sites that are associated with her.
Some call this time of year The Quickening in recognition of the fact that the subtle energies and the life forces of this side of the planet are becoming more alive and vibrant. Astrologically the Imbolc event coincides with when the Sun crosses the middle degree of the constellation of Aquarius - the water bearer (or bringer of the waters for the Spring growth). The Moon will be just before Last Quarter on 2nd February, so there will be an average amount of female energy around this Imbolc.
Imbolc is associated in the Celtic tradition with Brigid, the virginal first form of The Triple Goddess - a complex mutating energy form that can be felt in various vibrational states during the course of the year. This female energy changes in tone and strength as the seasons progress. At the beginning of the year She is in her beginning form – bright, light and sparkling, but still quite weak in comparison to how she feels at Beltane in May.
In this form she is known as Brigid (amongst many other variations of this name and with many other names in different cultures). Encountering this energy form is exciting and inspirational, and I highly recommend that you visit a site traditionally associated with Brigid at this time of the year in order to feel this energy for yourself. I’m sure it will inspire you to actions that will only progress you on your spiritual path.
Perhaps she is called The Bride because Imbolc sees the first ‘marriage’ of the two energy polarities - the returning male energy and the ever-present female energy combining to create a vibrant and creative impulse which inspires one to action. Certainly, something special is happening at this time of the year, and celebration is the order of the day.
For me personally, I will be doing a number of activities to celebrate Imbolc. Over the course of the few days around Imbolc I will be:-
- Investigating and potentially re-balancing some dark energy from a known troubled area in the Derbyshire hills
- Renewing some previous work I have done to create healing energy at a sacred site by adding the Brigid energy to the circuit I created.
- Asking for a new Spirit Guide to work with for this year after the departure of my last one. I don;t know yet whether this is necessary, but I hope to find out at Imbolc.
- Confirming which branch of the Arthurian Cross I will be dealing with this year. Last year it was West/Gwalchmai and that related to the Water element (didn’t it just!?).
I’m very much looking forward to the start of the new year. I begin to get jittery at this point in the cycle, and Imbolc is such a good starting point to re-ignite a spiritual quest. Can’t wait!
Kal and I are still just outside the village of Ballyfarnon on the shores of Lough Melagh. It is our first day in Ireland on my ancestor energies quest. We have just looked around Kilronan Abbey and found some interesting and significant graves. Now we’ve crossed the road to St Lassair’s Well.
Saint Lassair is an interesting lady. There is very little historical information online about this woman, except that the well dedicated to her is associated with Brigit. Now, isn’t that significant considering that there is a small megalithic site right next to the well too? Seems like this may have been a site originally dedicated to Brigit and later appropriated in the name of Lassair? One account says that Lassair was Ronan‘s daughter – Ronan being the founder of the ‘modern’ abbey. Maybe. Here’s another consideration of her origins:
It is with Sanas Cormaic that we find the first explicit link made between this goddess and the element of fire, in the word ‘bri’. McCone has convincingly shown that the three arts it claims Brigit supervised— healing, smithcraft, and poetry—were in early Ireland all associated with fire. The authors of the saints’ Lives of Brigit seem to have been aware of the same-named goddess, though they never say so explicitly: all of her Lives give Brigit a druid father figure, so she is made into a member of the druid class, the same class as poets and judges….
…McCone has pointed out that another saint, the virgin Lassair, also has a fire name, from lassar, flame. In his view Brigit, like Lassair, was a goddess who became a saint in Christian times; both succeeded in the new religions because their attributes could be harmonized with those of the Christian God, for the Bible is filled with light and fire imagery.”
(source: p.64 – ‘Women in a Celtic Church‘ by Christina Harrington)
Hot Spots in a Cool Place
Of course, our first task is always to find out whether a place has any energy worth investigating. It almost went without saying, yet still we both dowsed for it in our own separate ways. We both asked the same initial questions and ended up standing next to each other underneath a tall but closely-cropped yew tree growing nearby to the well. We laughed and confirmed that we had both asked for the most energetic and beneficial places for ourselves and we had ended up at the same location.
From our evergreen vantage point we scanned the site. It is a curious mixture of modern Christian tacky monumental-ism, of rehashed re-interpretations of vestal virgin figures and sad-looking never-be brides combined with a plaque commemorating the visitation of the Polish octogenarian Pope John Paul II. Lurking politely to one side like a faithful pet is a small table of stone – an ancient monument of diminutive proportions whose first sight evokes a small smile and even so far as a smirk. What the heck is THAT? And what is it doing here?
What I most enjoy about the work I do with sentient entities is the way that it is possible to get both immediate feedback, and then sometimes you will get a sign or a little gift later on when the whole episode has been integrated into your being. Such was my double dip reward at The Bridestones this Imbolc. Firstly I had the absolute pleasure of spending it with some good friends – the best I have – and secondly I got a visual reward when I found that Brigid herself had made an appearance on camera.
Signs for Britain’s Sickest Village?
As this was the final site visit of Imbolc we happened to arrive very close to sunset, with just enough time to prepare for the setting sun. Very little of our visits are planned in terms of timing, and this was another occasion when we just happened to have arrived when we needed to. Something was certainly involved in guiding us that day as a whole. We had encountered “signs” related to being stuck, and having barriers in our way as we travelled around the Derbyshire countryside. For example, Mike had mentioned that one particular village – Swythamley – had some terrible energies, and that we should go an experience this for ourselves. Kal was not keen on this at all, but I dutifully followed navigational directions in order to drive through the place out of curiosity. As we got closer to the village we encountered a huge lorry stuck in the middle of the road on a bend. We narrowly missed being squashed as it squeezed past the car. Then there were two near misses with other lorries that also caused us to have to either brake severely and swerve, or stop completely to allow the lorry to pass. Not particularly unusual in Derbyshire, but it was the coincidence of these events happening as we approached Swythamley that made Kal in particular take notice of the signs, and begin to express his dread fear that we might not get out of the village alive!
I noticed the energetic field around the village as we approached the outskirts of the first buildings indicating the village boundary. The place began to feel increasingly dreadful. Awful, horrific energies pushed my sacral chakra point relentlessly making me feel more and more nauseous. I nearly vomited as we reached the centre where people had parked their cars to go walking in the nearby hills. “Why would they park here!” I opined, disbelieving that we were the only ones that could feel this awful throbbing darkness. As we left the village, to the relief of everyone, particularly me, I noticed that the village lay at the end of two long straight rods that were channelling energies into the basin of Swythamley village itself. A warning: if you’re energetically aware, please don’t ever go there! Not even out of curiosity. For the next five minutes I spent my time energetically cleansing myself with silver and gold light visualisations.
As we arrived at The Bridestones a lorry tried to turn into the tiny lane leading to the quarry next tot he site. We sat for five minutes in the road watching in disbelief as the strange stuck lorry syndrome was repeated. Please, I begged, don’t let this be another sign that the energies are terrible. Not after all the work that Mike and I had done to try to repair the energetic framework of the site. We entered the site after the lorry abandoned its fruitless task and as we walked through the gate and the yew bower everyone agreed that the site felt much much better than they had ever expected. Phew! Things were looking good.
Diversions aside, we began our preparation for the Imbolc sunset.
As a follower of a seasonal path, and someone who has developed their sensitivity to the variety and strength of the energies available throughout the year, Imbolc - February 1st – marks the opening of the new year. For me it symbolises the return of the male energies. What does this mean exactly? It means that up until the beginning of February the Sun’s light has been too weak to feed the activity of the male subtle energies that inhabit the Earth, and which are present in living things. Therefore, for me, Imbolc marks the beginning of an increase in the strength and vitality of anything that is enlivened by the influence of male (or Sun-sourced) energies.
In Britain this year there has been an exception to this general rule concerning the presence of male energy. Male ‘subtle’ energy has in fact been available, albeit in a very weakened form. This has been due to the amount of sustained sunlight that we have been receiving. You can feel it in the land – the birds are singing, the buds are appearing, there have even been flowers blooming in January – normally a time when most delicate biological entities retreat into themselves and rest. An unusual year indeed. At this exact moment the frost and cold has returned to bite, yet the sun continues to shine. It is a most unusual beginning.
The heat and height of the Summer
The unusual start makes it difficult to contemplate how the year might work itself out. Are we going to see the seasons having “unseasonal” weather? Are they going to be unrecognisable from our traditional weather patterns? What will this mean for the strength and prevalence of the Earth’s subtle energy forces, and for the living biological energy of its inhabitants? My feeling is that we are going to see a real peak in Sun energy this year. This may require some balancing out by those of us who work well with Moon energy (female), as we feed a calming influence into the land through selected node points on the energy grid. Let’s not get all hot-headed and hysterical just because the Olympics are coming to town in the height of Summer! It’s just a game, an amusement, a distraction.
As with all previous years that I have followed my spiritual path I returned to the Llangernyw Yew Tree for inspiration. Communing with this tree seems to set the spark on the year’s tinder and soon a flame of encouraging light emerges from the kindling provided by this ancient life force nestled deep in the heart of a small village in North Wales. I will talk about the visit in more detail soon, but the outcome was one word: “Renown“. I will be spending the year seeking out sources to increase my personal power. Renown is a subject that I will return to and explain more fully in subsequent posts. No doubt I have much more to learn about it as the year goes on.
Now let’s talk about specific preparations that I am making for Imbolc, and that you could make too.
As the Wheel of the Year rolls through the Winter months we reach the first major milestone on 2011 – Imbolc. This festival is the first of the year’s Nature worship moments – a time to appreciate the beginnings of new life in the land. So, what are the origins and purposes of this festival?
A good explanation of Imbolc comes from the Chalice Centre website:
“The First of February belongs to Brigid, (Brighid, Brigit, Bride) the Celtic goddess who in later times became revered as a Christian saint. Originally, her festival on February 1 was known as Imbolc or Oimelc, two names which refer to the lactation of the ewes, the flow of milk that heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. Later, the Catholic Church replaced this festival with Candlemas Day on February 2, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features candlelight processions. The powerful figure of Brigid the Light-Bringer overlights both pagan and Christian celebrations.
In most parts of the British Isles, February is a harsh and bitter month. In old Scotland, the month fell in the middle of the period known as Faoilleach, the Wolf-month; it was also known as a’ marbh mhiòs, the Dead-month. But although this season was so cold and drear, small but sturdy signs of new life began to appear: Lambs were born and soft rain brought new grass. Ravens begin to build their nests and larks were said to sing with a clearer voice.
In Ireland, the land was prepared to receive the new seed with spade and plough; calves were born, and fishermen looked eagerly for the end of winter storms and rough seas to launch their boats again. In Scotland, the Old Woman of winter, the Cailleach, is reborn as Bride, Young Maiden of Spring, fragile yet growing stronger each day as the sun rekindles its fire, turning scarcity into abundance.” (source: ChaliceCentre.net)
Last year Kal and I went to Anglesey to follow the trail of Brigid along the River Braint. It was the first time that I full realised my relationship with birds of prey, particularly hawks. They were everywhere I went that day, culminating in them circling directly overhead when were ourselves going round in circles in the village of Brynsiencyn. It was a magickal experience which I will never forget.
This year Brigid has become transformed into Cailleach the crone aspect of the triple goddess. Now we are dealing with the other end of the spectrum of life and death. Whereas Bridget was the maiden aspect, Cailleach is the old lady. Therefore, I expect that the tone of this year’s pilgrimage will be different to last year’s. So, how did we know it was Cailleach and not Bridget this year? Well, she began to present herself to us – first at Ireland where she introduced herself to Kal, and then to me as a book-buying opportunity (the perfect way to introduce yourself to me).
How will this affect the way we approach the Imbolc day? In several ways. Firstly I would expect there to be a theme of life, death and regeneration involved somewhere on our long day’s journey to Lindisfarne. Here’s a section, again from the Chalice Centre site, explaining how Bridget came to symbolise being between the worlds of life and death:-
“Saint Brigid was said to be the daughter of a druid who had a vision that she was to be named after a great goddess. She was born at sunrise while her mother was walking over a threshold, and so “was neither within nor without.” This is the state known as liminality, from the Latin, limen: a threshold – the state of being “in between” places and times. In Celtic tradition this is a sacred time when the doors between the worlds are open and magical events can occur. “ (source: ChaliceCentre.net)
As a fire celebration Imbolc has become associated with anything symbolising fire, particularly candles. I will be taking some candles with me to light on Holy Island, and we will see where the dowsing rods direct me to place them, or where a sensation of it being ‘right’ comes over me. I will also be eating dairy products and maybe dedicating a few drops of milk or crumbs of cheese depending upon where I get to each my cheese sandwiches!
One of the things I need to do at Lindisfarne is to discover what the transition means for me. What tasks and duties will I be expected to perform in order to make progress on my spiritual path? Usually, I am led to a specific place to discover these answers, and then need to meditate to connect to the spirit of the time of year – in this case Cailleach or Brigid. Of course, I will report on what happens shortly after our visit on 29th January.