As we look at the state of the world today, it is not hard to see that humans are living a life out of balance with Nature. People often refer to this as humans are separated from Nature. However, it is impossible to be separated from something that you are. We simply have forgotten. If we want to continue, we need to remember, remember that we are connected to all.
When I am feeling disconnected or overwhelmed, I often turn to the rhythms of the Earth. No matter our heritage, our ancestors at one time celebrated the cycles of Nature. With climate change, many of the rhythms and cycles as we knew them have changed. However, if we dig a little deeper, we can find that the old ways of our ancestors have laid tracks for us to follow, which continue to be powerful amidst the climatic differences. Moving with the rhythms of the Earth, we begin to uncover who we really are and discover the joy of this precious gift we call Life.
Having Celtic heritage, I turn to the High Holy Days and Cross Quarter days. Just to note, these days are not solely celebrated by the Celts. The High Holy Days are commonly known. They consist of the longest and shortest days of the year known as the Summer and Winter Solstices, as well as, the days where the day and night are equal known as the Spring and Fall Equinox. The Cross Quarter Days mark the half-way mark between the High Holy Days. These include Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain.
Imbolc is a particularly important day for me as it is also known as Brigid’s Day. Many years ago as I was formally beginning my path with Plants, I was drawn to Brigid. She gave me guidance and encouragement. As I continued on my path and began to work with clients, I could feel her presence in our sessions as she helped both myself and my client. So when the time came to give my practice a name, there was only one option “Brigid’s Way”. This name was both an honoring and prayer. For Brigid is perhaps the most loved Celtic Goddess and Saint. She is considered the Goddess of Healing, the Goddess of the Hearth, the Goddess of the Eternal Flame, the Goddess of the Well, the Goddess of Peace and Unity, the Goddess of Poetry and this list continues.
Brigid is said to have taught how to work with Plants for healing and is considered to be very loving and compassionate. On top of her many attributes (for which I can only hope to emulate), Brigid is a survivor. As hinted above, she was a Celtic Goddess before Christianity came to Ireland. She was so revered that the people refused to turn their backs on her. Therefore, the Catholic Church made her a Saint.
Part of Brigid’s lore is that her priestesses and later nuns kept a flame burning in her honor. Each was responsible for tending the fire one night leaving the flame unattended only one night each month. It is said that Brigid herself tended the flame on this night. This flame was extinguished in the 16th century during the British Reformation. However, in 1993, Brigidine Sisters relit the flame in Kildare, Ireland, where Brigid’s church and monastery is located. I was blessed to meet Sister Mary who shared the Flame with me when I visited Kildare in 2013.
Imbolc is celebrated on February 1st and marks the turning point of Winter into Spring. For those of us who live in a cold climate, we are not out of the shadows (nor danger) of Winter; however there is hope ahead. Traditionally this is the time when the lambs were born, which gave a new source of nourishment during the scarcest part of the year. (Imbolc means ewe’s milk.)
It is said that the seeds begin to stir on Brigid’s Day, preparing for their return to the world. I use this time to think about my own seeds (literal and metaphorical). What do I want to plant this year? When my children were little, we would write our dreams for the year on paper and plant this with a seed in a container of potting soil. We watered the Plants and watched our dreams sprout, which would then be transplanted on Beltane.
Imbolc is said to be a time of initiation. An initiation is both a beginning and a test. We need to leave the shelter of the comfortable and gather our courage to face our challenges. In the end, we become a different person; hopefully, wiser and having a greater understanding of who we truly are. One of the downfalls of our culture is that we have lost many of our initiations. This is why I participate in and offer Sacred Plant Initiations. Thankfully, the Plants have offered to guide us in our initiation and to help us remember our role as part of Nature. I cannot begin to express how powerful these experiences have been.
Sometimes I look at the challenges facing humanity at this time and I think we are in the throes of initiation. We are being asked to leave the way that we know, to find our inner resources, and create a more beautiful world where all beings are honored as sacred. Like every challenging initiation, there is a point (sometimes many) where we think we cannot continue. However, our Ancestors (including our Plant Ancestors) are there to encourage us. They know that we were born for this and there is no other option, we must go on, we must succeed.
Again, I turn to Brigid, her flame was extinguished for hundreds of years; however, her Love and guidance could not be erased. She is there in the cold, dark of the year to remind us of the abundance and ease that is to come. She encourages us to dream and plant our seeds, pouring hope into the world. Brigid holds the flame of the human potential, knowing that we are capable of more than we can even imagine. If you listen in the stillness, you may hear her reminding us that all is not lost, we are simply being asked to embrace our divinity and remember our rightful place as part of Nature.
During this Sacred time of Silence and Hibernation, may you discover your own seeds of hope and may they blossom into the beautiful world of our dreams.