Moving into Imbolc

Seasonal Musings by Hayley Nightingale

This time I have wintered gently. It is true that I have felt the shift in energy as the light diminished and the ground sits saturated with flood water patiently awaiting the spring.

I have spoken about the instinct to slow down, to hibernate, to rest.

Yet this winter I have embraced the fruitful dark. The flickering of candlelight has been my preferred method of illumination and the sheepskins and blankets that I use to feather my sofa nest, have been a grateful place for reading, resting and recuperating.

As the wheel begins to turn again, I am left with a thought. “Am I ready for the spring?”

My priestess journey over the last year, found me connecting deeply with the Goddess in her Crone form. I have served and been devoted to the ancient grandmother and the wise woman archetype. Art work, poetry and ceremony has poured out of me as I have brought the Crone to life through these expressions.

At Imbole we make space for the Maiden, for snowdrops, for the light of Brighit and her eternal flame. Brighit, Bride, Bridie are just some of the names given to this ancient Celtic goddess who now reins immortal as St Brigid, the Christianised version of this ancient pagan deity.

Her light is still celebrated as Candlemas, her holy flame burns eternally at her church in Kildare, Ireland.

She is known as a triple goddess, she is the poet, the healer and the blacksmith. To me, the fact that she is known by so many names arnd has many qualities emphasises how widely she was worshipped on our lands.

Another storm blows and howls as I write this and I feel into the fragility of the maiden, yet there is nothing fragile about Brighid or Bridie. As the small quaint snowdrop pushes itself through frozen ground and stands steadfast through the harsh winter elements, so does She.

Through my connection to Goddess, I work with the energies of the season within and without. I can see in the land and elements how the maiden can hold this transition of winter to spring, yet where was she in me?

“Am I ready for spring?” I ask again.

As is usually the way, a couple of synchronicities unfolded that lead me to answer this question.

I have mentioned many names for this triple Goddess, yet one that speaks to me at this time is Brigantia.

Brigantia, ancient Celtic goddess, worshipped by a tribe known as the Brigantes. The Brigantes have been found to live in a settlement on Mam Tor, worshipping and performing Her fertility rights 3000 years ago.

You remember how Brighit is a goddess of healing?

Her image and mythology link her to sacred wells and springs. This is where I found Her.

Listening to a podcast, I was reminded about a precious treasure. In the early 1970s a stone head was found in a rockery in the garden of Rose Cottage, Castleton. This rockery was soon found to be the place of an ancient well, a natural resurge of pure water. A sacred place clearly worshipped and used with reverence by the Brigantes 3000 years ago. This head can be seen in Castleton visitor centre.

I had found a link to the maiden goddess of healing waters through this ancient head. In my mind’s eye I could clearly see this well, imagine the worth of this pure clean water. The early February sunlight, low and bright, sparkling on the surface as this water was brought into the daylight from the dark depths of the ground.

The pure ‘newness’ of this liquid extracted from the depths of the earth, the transformation to those who had accessed it. The strength that this hydration could bring, the strength that would be needed to carry it in waterskins back to the settlement.

We don’t worship water anymore, we pollute it and take it.

Later that day, I am given two items from my mum.

The first painting I did at school, framed and still bright and colourful. I actually remember doing it, the smell of the paint as the 4 year old me covered the paper with a layer of gold, before applying the thick and vibrant poster paints. secondly, a photograph of me as a baby, smiling, chubby and new.

What an effect they both had on me, to see these things after so long and to be given them now as the storms rage and the frost creeps.

As I stare into those innocent blue eyes, those eyes of mine that still hold that sparkle, I feel a deep connection to my inner child. “I’ve got you” I say, “what anticipation I can see in your eyes!”

I wondered what I would tell her if I could go back in time. What she might have done differently? But these are the musings of the woman who has lived four decades and who has many more to come, it is easy to be wise in hindsight.

The real wisdom shines from those eyes in that photograph, that unknown potential and possibility.

I had found Her within me, that unknown potential and possibility of the spring and year ahead.

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