Friday, January 29, 2021

Friday Ramble Before Imbolc (Candlemas)

Here we are, only three days away from the end of January and the beginning of a new month. Next Monday, February 1st, is the eve of the Celtic festival of Imbolc (or Candlemas). Strange to relate, this day of gladness in the depths of winter celebrates light and warmth, the gentle stirring of green things within the earth, the burgeoning of new life and the beginning of springtime.

The first day of February is also called the Féile Bride (Festival of St. Brigid) or "Bride's Day", and it is consecrated to Brigid, honored during the common era as an Irish saint, but revered as a goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann long centuries before she was canonized. Brigid is a deity of fire and creativity, wisdom, eloquence and craftsmanship.  She is patroness of the forge and the smithy, poetry, fertility and the healing arts, especially midwifery. Light is her special province, and hers are the candle, the hearth and the blacksmith's shop. It's always about the light.

We are made of light ourselves, and that makes us Brigid's children - sentient creatures forged from the dust of stars which lighted the heavens, then went supernova and ceased to exist billions of years ago. Within the radiant motes of our beings and consciousness are encoded the wisdoms of ancient earth, the star knowledge of countless unknown constellations and "The Big Bang" which created not just our own precious world, but the whole cosmic sea in which it floats. I love the notion that we were hatched in a supernova, the dazzling, luminous, powerful (and astonishingly beautiful) explosive event that takes place at the end of a star's existence. A long ago exploding star was our mother. How cool is that? Far out, literally, far out..

The late Carl Sagan had it right - we are made of star stuff. We are recycled matter, our dancing particles having assembled spontaneously into diverse life forms over and over again, lived and expired as those life forms, then dissolved back into the stream of existence. We have been many things, worn many shapes and answered to many names. This time around, I am a a tatterdemalion collection of wandering molecules called Catherine or Cate, but in previous incarnations, I was someone or something altogether different.

Buddhist teacher and deep ecologist Joanna Macy has written that since every particle in our being goes back to the first flaring of space and time, we are as old as the universe itself, about fifteen billion years. In other words, we are the universe, and it is us.

Happy Imbolc to you and your clan, happy Candlemas and St. Brigid's Day. May warmth and the manifold blessings of Light be yours at this turning in the Great Round.

1 comment:

Barbara R. said...

Wonderful and inspirational words this morning. I'll take them, cozy them into my hands and hold them over my heart, filling myself with wonder.