Listening for Stirrings of Spring

Happy Groundhog’s Day, Bright Ones! For today, I offer a collage of writings from past Imbolc days:

What do you bring up into the light today?
What has been developing within you during your Winter Sleep?
What does the dawning light tell you about your shadows?
How does the coming sun define the shape of you?
Groundhog’s Day is a modern version of the ancient celebration of the Goddess Brigid, who became syncretized with the Catholic Saint Brigid, whose feast day is February 1 or 2, depending on whom you ask. Brigid asks: What path will you commit yourself to in the coming season?


SONG FOR POETS: A POEM FOR BRIGHID’S DAY
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, Feb 2013

(Today we look for that jolly rodent, and also we commemorate Brighid, triple goddess and patroness of Ireland, Saint of Kildare. Smithcraft, poetry, and healing arts are her realms.)

Sacred wells, undying flame.

We forge our words on your anvil,
listening for the sweet ping
of hammer on metal,
watching the sparks fly outward,
shaping and crafting.

We seek them like wild herbs
found only on the side of a mountain
for a short season each year.

We search under bracken,
through briar and thorn,
stepping through bogs,
listening for the birdsong
that tells us we have arrived
at the proper place.

We give ourselves to words,
not waiting for inspiration,
but chasing it like skuthers of fog
over the misty hills.
Seeking the solace and healing
that words offer,
and turning our minds
to do that healing work.
Crafting our words
into tools and enticements.

A year and a day
the old ones would pledge
to your service.
So may it be.
One year of poetry,
making it, reading it.

Oh Lady, give us poetry.

Questions to Contemplate in the Season of Brigid:
This is the season of sunlight and shadow:
What is the shape of my shadow?
How does it hamper me?
How does it hold me?
How does it tell me the shape of my soul?

Brigid is the Smith, she who works the forges:
What within me is being tempered this season?
What is being shaped and shifted?
What sacred patterns are being traced along my edges?
What useful tool am I being forged to become?

Brigid is the Healer.
The waters of her well bring wholeness.
What spaces within me need the touch of her waters?
What dis-ease drains my vitality?
How can I offer the waters of healing to others?

Brigid is Patroness of Poets.
How do words shape my reality, like iron is shaped in the forge?
How do my words bring healing, like water from the well?
How can I speak poetry into the cold and the shadows
of the season which is upon us?
Can I offer my daily words with the care and the artfulness of the poet?


Gratitudes:
1. My neighbor and his snow blower. We got some good exercise shoveling about a third of the driveway, for about an hour. Then Ron brought his snow blower over and finished up the rest in five minutes.
2. We might be covered in a foot of snow, but the birds are singing spring songs.
3. Breathing out. Starting afresh. My new semester is feeling like a field of unbroken snow, waiting for us to cover it with our little birdy tracks.
4. Two snow days right when I need them.
5. Professional development. I learned a new thing–sort of by accident–about how to design Google Slides this morning. And I’ve listened to Sonya Renee Taylor talking about Accountability vs. Cancel Culture. Take a deep, deep breath. Yes, Call people out, when the situation warrants. Call people in when you can. But, she says, let’s call on each other. Don’t be “bound to the binary” of calling out or calling in. “Your amygdala is your business.”

Walk in Beauty, Beloveds!


“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” —Albert Einstein


“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” —Cornel West


“It is the scientist whose truth requires a language purged of every trace of paradox; apparently the truth which the poet utters can be approached only in terms of paradox.
“T. S. Eliot said that in poetry there is ‘a perpetual slight alteration of language, words perpetually juxtaposed in new and sudden combinations.’ It is perpetual; it cannot be kept out of the poem; it can only be directed and controlled.
“The tendency of science is necessarily to stabilize terms, to freeze them into strict denotations; the poet’s tendency is by contrast disruptive. The terms are continually modifying each other, and thus violating their dictionary meanings.” —Cleanth Brooks, “The Language of Paradox”


“Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.” —Borges


“Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.” —Neil Gaiman

Brigid’s Day

Brigid’s Day is dawning, the indigo shifting to blue and grey over the southeastern hills. A strip of tangerine edges the horizon like a waking eye. From the porch, I heard a rooster from the Tome farm on the western rim of our little bowl of a hollow, and from the east, up in the brush and the treeline, I heard what must have been coyotes mumbling–not the loud yaps or howls, but friendly “look-what-I-founds” and “keep-together-now-kids.” The sound was closer to me than the dog kennel on the other sound of the ridge and it didn’t have the “help-I’ve-been-abandoned” sound of those residents.

This morning, groundhog will see her shadow or not, but spring is on its way. I do hope she slept late this morning, until the coyote family passed through.

Feel Earth stirring. Notice the kicking of the life that is growing this morning, the sap rising, the fresh breath of breeze. What new gestating thing is calling you into your wildness today? What is growing within you? How can you nourish and tend it within you until it grows to be ready for birth?

Blessed be your seeds, your fertile dreams, your deep awareness of that which will awaken, will bud, will sprout, will rise. Dream well. Plan big.


Gratitude List:
1. On Thursday evening, we saw sundogs on the way home from school–they were trying to become a halo, and they managed to be rainbow arcs on either side of the sun. I keep meaning to write them in a list.
2. Brigid’s morning. If you look deeply into the grey, you can see rich and watery blues.
3. Coconut shrimp for supper last night, with stir-fried zucchini, and butter pecan ice cream for dessert.
4. Creating the life I want.
5. All that is waiting to be born within me.

May we walk in Beauty!

Breathe. Ground. Prepare.

Sweet Shining and Shadowy Beloveds:
This morning, it’s hard to keep believing in justice, hard to keep the long view in mind, hard to hold a vision of a world in which people of courage make decisions for the good of all, with wisdom, humility, and honor.

Part of me longs to enumerate all the horrors and destructions of the past week, to see the hurts laid out like a cadaver, to identify each killing blow, each bruise, each scar.

But that would only serve to feed the rising panic that’s been gathering in my gut this week, and perhaps in yours, too. Those pieces will come later, in poems. But now it’s time to tend to ourselves, to shore up and take stock and plan our way forward.

Let’s fight this collective panic attack. If we’re left lost and quivering, we only feed their power. Oh yes, I’m lost this morning, and quivering, too, re-traumatized. Let’s acknowledge it, notice where it lodges in our bodies.

My muscles actually ache from all the tightness I’ve been holding in. My head is pounding and my brain is foggy.

Now, it’s time to push back the panic:
Breathe in.
Straighten your spine. Lower your shoulders.
Breathe out.
Roll your neck and shoulders.
Stretch and wriggle your spine until you feel yourself to be a line drawn between heaven and earth, a conduit of energy that flows through you.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Notice every place your body is touching a surface. Notice the sensations in your body.
My backside and thighs on the chair. One foot on the floor, one on a chair rail. This cozy jacket keeps me just warm enough. My tongue’s a little scalded from that first sip of coffee.

What do you hear?
The water in the cat’s drinking fountain, a small boy clicking his tongue, the creaking of an old house on a chilly morning.

What do you taste? (Grab a bite of something, or remember a favorite taste sensation.)
The bite of pepper and the creamy counterpart in the pepperjack cheese.

What do you smell?
Coffee, vanilla, springtime

Look around you. Find a color, a texture, a beautiful thing.
The shining scarlet drop of red on the head of that downy woodpecker. The sweet, soft salmon leaves of the Japanese maple, still clinging to the branches and twigs. So many winter goldfinches on the thistle bag!

Now, here we are in the doorway of a new season.
Today and tomorrow mark the beginning of Imbolc, the Season of Stirrings. New life is coming, cold snap or not. Sap will rise. Seeds will sprout. The Earth spins and whirls on in her dance through the cosmos.

One of the old names for today is Candlemas, when we acknowledge how the light has been within us all along, how much light we have to offer. Take stock of your candles. What is the small flame that you can offer the world in this moment? What is the fuel that you share?

Perhaps you are already doing it–tending daily to children or calling your senators, teaching teenagers to ask discerning questions or planting seeds for the crops that will feed your neighbors, healing bodies, gathering friends, listening. Today, this week, this month, do that work like a prayer, like a magic spell. Do it with intention, knowing that your work is changing the world, that what you do is fighting the forces of wanton destruction and power-mongering.

And maybe take up another thing this week. Make cranes for the Tsuru for Solidarity March, when Japanese Americans for social justice will be marching on Washington in early June to demand the closure of internment camps in the United States. Become an advocate for immigration reform. Send money or food to groups who are taking food to asylum-seekers forced to wait in inhumane conditions in Mexico. Express your support for Muslim people, and people from African and Asian countries which have been added to the US travel bans. Help people register to vote.

To combat the lies and obfuscations: Speak truth. Magically. Prayerfully.
To combat the normalized cruelty: Speak compassion and tenderness. Prayerfully. Magically.
To combat the power-mongering: Share your privilege. Offer the microphone, the stage, the moment. Do it prayerfully. Do it magically.
To combat the greed-mongering: Be generous. Give. Share. Do it magically and prayerfully.

Another ancient name for this day, this season, is Brigid, after the ancient goddess of the Celtic peoples, who offered her muse to poets, to metalworkers, and to healers. She later became syncretized with the beloved St. Brighid, and so this aspect of human understanding of the Divine was not lost. Water and flame and word are her tools, her symbols. Today, make a poem, or make art, or make a nourishing broth to honor the gifts the Holy One has given you to make and change and heal. Do it prayerfully, as an act of defiant hope in the face of lies and cruelty and greed.

And also, this is the Groundhog’s moment. Tomorrow is the day when we check on the burrowers and the underworld dwellers. What light do they see? What shadows? In Advent, we walked into our own shadows. On Epiphany, we celebrated our light. And now, as we feel the heavy weight of the week’s shadows like a physical burden upon our shoulders, we must acknowledge and greet our own shadows. How do they give us power? How do they sap our power? Can we work with them instead of against them? Can we find their deepest meanings?

We can’t know what the coming days will bring. Too many signs point toward historical repetitions that turn me to salt, to stone. I freeze. I feel small and insignificant. But I must remember, constantly: Nothing we do now–to fight the tides of hatred and cruelty, to stand between the powerful and the vulnerable, to create holiness and beauty and health–will be wasted, no matter what happens. Now, perhaps more than ever, every act of hope and healing and love matters.

And:

We are not alone. You are not alone. Reach out. Take hands. Build the webs. Ask for help, and be the helper.

Let’s situate ourselves so that we are always ready–strong enough, centered enough, grounded enough–to step up and do the work of love and compassion and justice, to stand up, to stand between, to risk, to raise our voices, to be the fierce and defiant hope for the future we want to create.

Shadows and Sunshine

Tonight we stand at another of those corners of the year, the moment in the space between solstice and equinox, the full womb of winter.

It’s Candlemass, the time to melt your gathered beeswax into candles to make light for the coming year. Take them to the church for the priest to bless. Make a place for your fire. Prepare the vessels of illumination. Get your house in order.

It’s the season of the pregnant ewe. What do you feel quickening within you? How will you protect and prepare for the new thing that is striving to be born within you? Can you feel it kicking?

It’s the season of Brigid, patroness (call her saint or goddess, she’ll answer to both) of metalwork, of healing, of poetry. What do you create in your forges? What is being tempered, tested, forged within you? What does your medicine bag look like? What is your healing role? How will you make your words artful?

It’s the season of the groundhog, popping up in the morning to search for his shadow. What is your own relationship to your shadow? What do you bring into the light? What do you hold in reserve? What secrets will you protect in your darkness? What will your shadow teach you?


Song for Brigid’s Day
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Do you feel how the world comes alive?
How even underneath its coat of snow,
inside the bright crystals of the ice,
something in the Earth is stirring?

Within your own eyes I see it rising–
in this breath,
and now this one–
the Dreamer is awakening.

The dawn has come,
spreading its golden road before you,
asking, “Will you step upon the pathway?”

As you move out onto the road,
Brigid’s sun upon your face
will trace your outline full behind you,
defining you in the Shadow
which will be your soul’s companion
into spring.

Blessed Imbolc

DSCN8834

Tonight we stand at another of those corners of the year, the moment in the space between solstice and equinox, the full womb of winter.

It’s Candlemass, the time to melt your gathered beeswax into candles to make light for the coming year. Take them to the church for the priest to bless. Make a place for your fire. Prepare the vessels of illumination. Get your house in order.

It’s the season of the pregnant ewe. What do you feel quickening within you? How will you protect and prepare for the new thing that is striving to be born within you? Can you feel it kicking?

It’s the season of Brigid, patroness (call her saint or goddess, she’ll answer to both) of metalwork, of healing, of poetry. What do you create in your forges? What is being tempered, tested, forged within you? What does your medicine bag look like? What is your healing role? How will you make your words artful?

It’s the season of the groundhog, popping up in the morning to search for his shadow. What is your own relationship to your shadow? What do you bring into the light? What do you hold in reserve? What secrets will you protect in your darkness? What will your shadow teach you?

Gratitude List:
1. Langston Hughes. He had reason to despair. He had reason to give up on America. But he wrote “Let America Be America Again,” critiquing the dream, but then vowing to work to make it real, ending with:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

2. Students sweetly and shyly sharing their Self Collages with their Creative Writing classmates today. I need to create more experiences in my classes where they are talking about their personal philosophies with each other.
3. That mango gelato with chocolate sauce.
4. Reading the Percy Jackson books with the kids. We need stories of courageous heroes.
5. Candles and shadows and healing and poetry and forging.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seize Your Goat!

(with thanks to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, 1982)

 

get (get)  [< akin to OE. -gietan (see BEGET, FORGET),
G. -gessen in vergessen, forget
< IE. base *ghend-, to seize, get hold of,
whence L. prehendere, to grasp, understand]

1. to come into the state of having; win, gain, obtain, acquire
[Don’t let her get your goat.]
2. to set up communication with, as by radio or telephone
[Ah yes, I see, she got your goat.]

3. to influence or persuade (a person) to do something
[You can get your goat to climb the stairs, but you’ll never get it down again.]
4. to reach; arrive at
[How did you get back downstairs with that goat?]

5. to go and bring
[Go get your goat back, Girl!]
6. to become afflicted with (a disease)
[Oh yes, I’ve gotten goats.  It’s no easy affliction, let me tell you.]

7. to cause to be
[I see you’ve got your goats in a row.]
8. to be sentenced to
[She got your goat.  Now what is she going to do with it?]

9. [Colloq.] to own; possess
[I have got my own goat, thank you.]
10. [Colloq.] to be or become the master of;
to overpower; to have complete control of
[Or has your goat got you?]

11. [Colloq.] to catch the meaning or import of; understand
[Relax.  She really gets your goat.]
12. [Slang] to cause an emotional response in;
irritate, please, thrill, etc.
[Your goat gets me every time.]

 

Saturday Prompt

I know, I’m supposed to be done and editing, but Tuesday is Brigit, Groundhog’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, the Feast of St. Brighid, a luminous day deserving of poetry.  Let’s skip a day and write a poem to honor the occasion on Saturday.  Join me?

 

Gratitude List:

1.  Cassiopeia, Orion, Pleiades (and spell-check)
2.  Forgiveness
3.  A sun-splattered day and winds that meant it
4.  Did the boys pass an entire day without a single fight?  It’s a miracle.
5.  Editing

May we walk in beauty.

laughing goat
I found this randomly on the web and cannot discover who owns it.  I’ll credit it if someone tells me.