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Faerie Tidings: The Seeds of Imbolc

Seeds of ImbolcFaerie Tidings: The Seeds of Imbolc
by BlackLion and Starcat

Nestled in the cozy cottage, though the cold, wintry winds still blow, we enjoy the hearth fire as our cat friends curl nearby. We sip our late-morning cups of chamomile tea with honey. A cauldron of white bean and rosemary soup already bubbles on the stove, while happy loaves of dough rise into bread in the filtered sunshine. Imbolc has arrived, a blizzard is coming, and it’s a day-dreamy kind of day.

Visions of a big garden expansion dance in our heads. Layers upon layers of green plants, shrubs, and trees will be exchanged, moved, and combined for the optimum growth for our plant friends. We are creating a design that not only benefits our plates, but also the plants, critters, and earth as well. A joyful and yummy garden indeed!

We scribble down notes about which seeds to claim at the upcoming seed exchange at the Browns’ farm, as well as discussing all the brown-paper packets of seeds to share that we have carefully saved from last season’s garden.

Before too many moons, we would be rearranging window seats on the south side of the cottage, making room for seedlings. We’ll need to remember, of course, to leave sunny sleeping spots for the cats. As if on cue, the orange stripey cat wakes from his slumber and leaps into the cardboard box we had strategically left for them beside the couch, drawing the casual attention of the two black cats. All felines soon settle back to their snoozing.

By afternoon, the sky has clouded over and the expected snow begins to fall. We check the barn and make sure everything is secure. The day wanes towards dusk, and we light the candles on the mantel, along with a pair of lanterns. We settle in to dream near the fire while the bread, now shaped into braided rings, does its final rising.

Our inner visions sparkle with the delights of seasons to come. Besides the bountiful and brightly-colored gardens, our reveries include barefoot hikes into our beloved mountains, crafty creations at the big oak table, dance and revelry at the bright sunny beach, community celebrations with the folk of the vale, and a new friend for our donkey pal, Maude. Later, after the bread and soup is safely placed in our bellies, we’ll assemble our dreams and intentions onto our Imbolc vision board.

In the meantime, we bustle into the kitchen and collect our aprons and bowls and flour and the big rolling pin and a myriad of whimsically-shaped cookie cutters. We add nuts and dried fruits and chunks of chocolate as decorations to adorn the gingerbread cookie parade. It is soon comprised of prancing kittens, swirling spirals, shooting stars, plump hearts, dancing birds, covered wagons, and an assortment of wild animals – elephants, mustangs, giraffes, antelope and lots of big cats. Lions, tigers, and leopards, oh my!

In a few days, when the snowstorm relents, we plan to deliver our menagerie of cookies to our neighbors at the seed exchange. As the baking proceeds into the evening, the frigid winter air is temporarily left at the door. The seeds of Imbolc have been lovingly planted in our minds and hearts for the year to come.

Brighid

Imbolc lays before us deep

As all the world lies still, asleep.

And in this time of seeming death,

We’re livened by Midwinter’s breath.

The celebration of this time

Is done with stories, song and rhyme.

Here in Winter’s deepest cold

We find you, Brighid, kind and bold.

 

With joy, the bride doll now is made –

The children dance a brisk parade.

Old and young folk, one and all,

Do bless the lovely white-clad doll.

And then the bride is laid abed

With blossom garlands at her head,

And at her feet, all shod in white,

A candle, lit to share its light.

 

Lady of the Holy Wells,

We chant your name and ring the bells

To honor you this special day,

Our trials and fears all laid away.

Crosses made of golden wheat

And flowers are laid at your feet.

The bread is baking, tried and true –

With mead, full cups we lift to you.

 

Lady of the blacksmiths’ fire,

You of love and heart’s desire,

Shed your glow on all our lives,

Sons and daughters, husbands, wives.

Forge us in the glowing coals,

Strong in body, mind, and soul.

Lady Brighid, shining bright,

We seek your blessings on this night.

 

Brighid’s Flame

Saint_Brigid's_crossIt is a cold Imbolc day in the countryside, and wintertime restlessness has made your feet wish to wander. Bundling yourself up against the chill, you don thick socks, warm long underthings, a heavy jacket, mittens, boots, and a hat. Bidding farewell to your warm home, you venture forth into the cold afternoon air, and begin your journey.

You are newly come to this area, and have not had the opportunity to explore much beyond your own yard. The harvest kept you busy, and the snow set in early. Heading west, you set an easy pace, enough to keep you warm but not enough to wear you. There are small clouds, some which seem to threaten snowfall, but the ground is nearly bare in places due to a January thaw.

Continuing for some time, you wander past stone walls and open fields, past small forests and frozen streams. Then ahead, in a meadow, you spy a building standing alone. It has begun to snow lightly, and the wind has picked up, so out of curiosity and the desire to rest from the cold, you venture forth.

It is a stone building, a small chapel-like structure with a thatched roof. The path to the door is wide and well kept. The windows are of stained glass, and the door is heavy oak hinged with large iron pieces. Seeking respite from the wind, you grasp the large iron handle and pull the door open.

You enter a small antechamber and pull the door closed against the elements. The noise of the wind is greatly muffled here, and it feels good to be out of the cold. You shake the snow from your shoulders and move forward through the archway into the larger chamber.

The light from outside makes the stained windows glow with a multitude of color, spilling a rainbow on the stone floor. Low wooden benches line the walls, inviting rest for the weary traveler.

On a wooden table in the center of the room, there is a stone lamp, lit. The flame is bright and warm, and dances in the slight breeze. Also on the table, you see flowers – white roses, daisies, lilies, all fresh and alive despite the winter’s cold. It is then that you realize that you are relatively warm in here, not just the simple warmth that comes from being out of the wind, but almost comfortable enough to remove your outer layer. You wonder at this, since there is no visible heat source other than the small flickering flame of the lamp.

You move from the table to one of the benches and release a sigh of contentment as your feet no longer bear the full weight of your body. You adjust a little, finding the right spot to relax. Now at rest, your mind wanders to events in your life that have been troubling you; frustrating situations, difficult decisions, and painful processes. The dancing flame catches your gaze again, and your eyes are drawn to its glowing presence. The flame waves gently, back and forth, like a shining fish’s tail through calm water. It lulls you into a state of well-being, and your lips form a half smile. Your eyes grow heavy but do not close, though your lashes cause the candle flame to soften and blur.

Then, between one breath and the next, there is a shimmer of tiny bells, and you realize that a white-clad figure, a woman, is standing beside the table, looking at you. Your eyes open fully, but you are not startled. Indeed, Her presence is calming, gentle. You wonder how She came to be here, for you did not hear the door open, and it is the only entrance into this small stone building. Then you notice that Her feet are bare, and She has on no warm outer things, only a white gown and a garland of green gracing Her head. A question forms on your lips, and She smiles, drawing a breath to speak.

“Welcome are you, child, to this sacred place, on this holy day. Here does My flame ever burn; here do I hear those who beseech Me.”

In wonder and awe, you realize that you are in the presence of the Goddess Brighid, and She smiles again at your expression. You rise quickly, and stammer an apology for your intrusion.

She laughs gently. “Indeed, fear not, for this is a place of safety and rest for those who are weary. Ever is this a sanctuary for those seeking rest and hope. Though you spoke not, I heard the storm within your heart, and I respond.”

“Oh my Lady,” you cry out, “how is it I can bear the troubled times facing me? There seems to be no hope, no answers. I’m lost.” Your voice breaks on that last word, and tears come to your eyes.

Brighid comes to your side on silent feet and takes you within her arms. She lays a hand upon your head, bringing it to rest on her shoulder, and She strokes your hair.

“I am the promise of Springtime. Within Me lies the purpose and power of new life coming and dark times passing. Though at times your strength is truly tried, keep My flame alive in your heart. Balance your actions with compassion; keep words of love in your mouth, for truly do I listen. You are never alone, Beloved; you need only call to Me, and My light shall shine forth from the depths of your darkest night. The flame into which you gazed is as constant as My love for you, and never shall it be extinguished. You are precious to Me, dear one. It is through your own acts of love that you draw strength, so love and love well, even when it is hard to do so.  Every act of anger brought against you is an opportunity to be answered with love. I say that not lightly, for it is those times that shall surely try you, but in those times will you gain your highest power. Answer anger with grace, hatred with compassion, fear with light, and always shall you be borne by My flame.”

Your breathing slows as you listen to Her words, and the tension drains from your body. Though your troubles are still present in your mind, you can see more clearly now, and feel that you have the strength to endure, if not succeed. You expel a deep sigh that seems to lighten both your spirit and your physical form, and you lift your head from Brighid’s shoulder. Smile answers smile, and you drop your eyes, feeling a bit shy in such a sacred presence.

“Return here when you wish,” She says, “for this door is always open to you. Bring your troubles and your joy; come in calm or in turmoil. Here shall you ever find peace.”

“Thank you my Lady, with all of my heart,” you say, and slowly, She fades from view.