I write this on Sunday February 1st
This is the day when most people are celebrating their Brigid’s Day, especially with its lovely convenience of being on a Sunday.
I wonder how many made their new Brigid’s crosses today or left out their ribbons and small cloaks over Saturday night to collect and cherish the dew soaked into them? How many left milk and Brigid’s Bread on the outdoor window sill to feed the passing Brigid and her White Cow? How many women were up overnight with their candles for Brigid and Brideog Dolls?
As this day is fixed to a Roman Calendar day I tend to feel this is a day to honour the original Brigid of Kildare, founder of the Kildare Monastery, the Cill Dara.
Finding a Calendar for Bhride
I tend to focus on the more ancient traditions based on a more ancient calendar based on Sidereal Time. Without going into the complex maths, Sidereal time is a measure of the position of the Earth during its rotation around its axis which is very close to, but not identical to, the motion of stars throughout the Universe. This mathematics was understood way back into Babylonian times and probably way back through Sumerian times too. However, they never had 12 month years in ancient times. They regarded a moon cycle as a year.
There have been so many different calendars used through time and only recently has the world largely adopted to our very clumsy Julian Calendar.
Egypt may have been the larger influence on how we shape our modern calendar and seasons as I think they were the first to create a 365 day calendar which they divided into 4 seasons, these being flooding, seeding, harvesting and hibernation seasons.
I find it interesting that these ancient 4 Egyptian seasons, based on the behaviour of The Nile and weather conditions created, fall closely into the symbolism of the 4 Celtic Fire Festivals. These Fire Festivals were neither on physically observable Solstice and Equinox days or conveniently on the first day of 4 Julian Calendar calculated months. They landed on what are now called Cross Quarter days based on Sidereal Time calculations.
I have been building a Labyrinth Garden with an intent of being more than a labyrinth but a fusion of both the middle east labyrinth and american medicine wheel traditions along with Celtic mythology traditions to create a “Spirit Wheel”. My intent is to create a place where we can be reminded of these 4 seasons and our place within them. This is subject for a separate article, though, maybe 4 articles :-)
Flooding, is certainly on Imbolc, the time the womb waters of Morrigan breaks and gives birth to Bhride, or in Co. Cavan where Shannon Pot overflows and the spirit of Siannon flows through the river Shannon to fertilise Ireland again. I’ve been to Shannon Pot this time of year and it is indeed overflowed and flooding nearby fields. After our 36 hour rain just finished, I’m sure its like that there now.
Early May, our Bealtine, is certainly a perfect time for seeding our land, and once a time when young lovers went seeding too, but these days a wonderful time to celebrate the creativity of all people.
First harvests come from the ground in early August. Lunasa, and continue until early November, Samhain, when we celebrate sharing and storage of our final harvests, come to peace, close accounts and re-open new ones, and conclude a cycle before starting a new one.
Then comes hibernation living our womb time of nurturing new life, visions and ideas to flow, while surviving on the stored harvest of old, and then the living waters of spring break out to flood again.
The time of these waters of fertility is Imbolc, which this year falls on Wednesday, February 4th, which to me is Bhride’s day, the inspiration of Brigid of Kildare, who many think of today.
Rekindling the Flame to create your Cill Dara
Taking known history into account and the writings taken from the earliest bards I do not believe there was a time when this wonderful founder of Cill Dara was a Christian teacher. She was so much different to what Patrick, of a similar time, stood for, but it does seem Brigid of Cill Dara did create a vibrant, educational and abundant community that inspired and became a model for future Christian inspired monastic cities to come.
Folklore and mythology tells us of Brigid as the Smith, the Healer, the Poet
One thing I feel sure about is Brigid’s sharing as a Bard, and a Bard could be all these three. The Smith is the keeper of fire and the poet is often the healer too as herbs of healing are often worthless without the right music and words to administer them and without the balance of fire and water to dance with them.
Lately I have been hearing and reading a lot about “Geancannach” from local storyteller Tony Cuckson, and through the books and videos of various USA based Celtic myth explorers. I’ll review these another blog.
Until this point I had known of Geancannach as being a fairy lover, maybe the Green Man, who through temptation and debauchery with others just drives the woman into passionate frenzy.
However, Tony and these USA writers talk of the Geancannach as being a “Love Talker” and that “true” bards are not bards unless they are “Love Talkers”.
Before I read this stuff I have always talked my partner Claire that she is truly a bard because through her words and harp music she is a “Love Sharer”. Sounds like its the same thing.
Like in the old Geancannach poem when Claire performs live she seems to enter into people's dreams, but they cannot entirely have her, just like the fairy lover, and so they want to come back for more. Fortunately, a lot of folks go to that next step and be inspired to become geancannochs, love talkers, themselves through going back to their instruments, their singing, their poetry, and their writing.
So did this day inspire you to either yearn for more of bathing in the love of Brigid or did you accept her gift of flame of light, love and waters of calm and fertility?
The word “accept” should be thought of as aligning to rather than as something handed to each of us to own and control.
There’s some nice simple things you can do today to make this happen. There’s still time.
Do some house cleaning, especially in the kitchen, especially recycling what you do not need in the fridge.
If you have any Christmas greenery lingering, burn it now.
Make some Brigid’s crosses, if you can, and hang them up, especially in the kitchen to influence her blessing through you through your food.
Meditate and pray upon what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year for your, your family, your garden, your community, and beyond and then call upon Brigid’s love to connect with you, Doing this while making your Brigid’s crosses is the best way.
Touch something of nature, if you can, such as that new bud unfolding from a tree or, if you are lucky, the new snowdrops opening.
Then see what you are inspired to do through writing, painting or making something.
Writing a blog online is a wonderful outlet for this these days, and then you’ll be a new Spring “Love Talker”