Here At The Northeast of the Year

Imbolc, the Celtic spiritual festival that falls at the Lunar New Year, is all about inspiration and renewal, about the seeds quickening, and those stars of new life stirring forth. It’s a numinous passage, very much connected with poetry, the waters of healing, the fire of imagination. This is a time to pay attention to visions and ideas and flashes of intuition. And if you are working on a project, keep it close to you, for it is likely to be in a very new, just a breath-of-being stage.

This is the Northeast time of year, energetically speaking. It’s a time to tune into Mystery, and yourself in the weaving of Mystery. It’s a time to harmonize with the music of the spheres, so to speak — or at least orient yourself to the cosmos, while also planting your feet firmly on the ground, and taking note of what is in your life.

What is in your life right now? Are you happy with your home, heart, work in the world, community exchanges? What are the birds singing in your neighborhood? Are the trees budding? Leafing? Even, possibly, flowering (they are here in the San Francisco Bay Area!).

Tune into the magic and mystery of right now. Listen to the stirrings of your heart, and maybe jot them down in a private notebook. Clean your hearth, if you have a fireplace, or at the very least, your stovetop.

The new fire of the year flickers to life right now. A new star for each of us appears, and we begin to orient ourselves toward it.

What sparks on your horizon, just on the edge of visibility?

What pulls at your heart, tugs you forward into the new life that is this year, this day, this moment? Pay attention. Take note, but don’t try to answer all the questions that may stir forth. Just take note of where you are, and where you are being pulled ….

The year is new and so are you.

Blessings as you point the coracle, the curach, the little boat of yourself, towards that bright point of grace.

Art by Jane

Celebrating Our Spirit Fire: BrightMoon

The moon is at perigee  right now — at its closest to the sun for the year— and so, being a full moon, is at its brightest.   Here in the northern hemisphere we are also at the first cross-quarter of the year, midway in the cycle of the year between the Winter Solstice (longest night, shortest day) and the Spring Equinox (day and night of equal length).

This luminous time of year is celebrated variously as the Celtic festival of Imbolc,  St. Brigid’s Day, or as the Catholic Candlemas or Feast Of The Purification of The Virgin — honoring Mary’s ritual purification after birthing the baby Jesus (celebrated at the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary), and also the Feast Of The Presentation Of Jesus At The Temple.

As an agrarian festival, Imbolc marked the beginning of spring by the lactation of the ewes.  St. Brigid/the Goddess Brighid herself is associated with midwifery, as well as the hearthfire, poetic inspiration, smithcraft, healing, and more.  There’s much lore surrounding all these festivals, and I invite you to explore some of it by following the links.

As I gaze at the BrightMoon rising and engage with that feeling of newest beginnings quickening in the ground of my life I feel a sense of fragility, possibility, and grace.  That the Lady herself (Mary, the Goddess, the Moon, illumination …)  however you understand this warm, pure presence is offering blessing and beautiful promise to all of us, even if the times may still be dark, the buds just beginning to nudge forth, the trees bare.  Mystery lies at this time of year, but also the stirrings of excitement regarding how we will be moving forward in the year.

  • What hopes and wishes are stirring in the rich loam of your heart right now?
  • What inspiration flickers or burns with steady flame as if on a candle sheltered by your hand?  What are you doing to shield this flame from the winds of the world, to safeguard it and hold it sacred?  It is best not to reveal the flame too soon!  Instead, carefully tend your inspirational fire.  Prepare a hearth with all the materials and care it needs to thrive before revealing your ideas, projects, whatever-it-is to the larger world of family, community, colleagues.   The time of public welcome will come soon enough ….
  • How does the BrightMoon reveal something mysterious, whole, and shining in yourself?  How can you coax that hallowed nature into your everyday life — into the way you tend your food, your family, your work?

I offer to you a “Deer Song” to help you in your musing, meditation, reflections.  As always my song is infused with Reiki healing energy and my good wishes.  May it serve you to open a shining place within you so that you may sit by the hearthfire of your heart and discover the warmth and beauty and unique expression that is you, and some possibilities for stepping forth in the coming year as a practical and inspiring herald of something that is very dear to you.

I invite you to write any wishes, visions, intentions, or inspirations in the comment box below.   Envision that each one is a sprig of lavender, rosemary, or cedar, and that you are offering them one by fragrant one into a shared fire of imagination and promise, and that we, as a circle of women and men on the sacred path of our lives, are tending the fire together.

Click here to download or listen to BrightMoon

(This mp3 is 4.30 min. long. Our peninsula rail service offers some lovely counterpoint to the song — listen for it :-)!)


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A Little Bird Told Me ….

In the cloud of dream this morning, an insistent chip! chip! cuts through, sifts through my sleep: Wake up, wake up!  It is the first bird of the morning, moving from near my second story bedroom window, to the side of the house, to … for all the world like a mother nudging family awake to get them ready for school.

So I get up, fox-walk downstairs (that is, I step smoothly down the wooden stairs, setting my feet down gently so that the floors don’t make a sound).   Since we homeschool, and my husband works from home–well, the downtown cafe is his office, really–no one needs to be up by a particular time, so why not let everyone sleep. I enjoy this dawn quiet, the secret of this hour.  And so I slip out into the backyard.

I settle at my Secret Spot — (or my “not-so-secret spot”, as I call it to my family, since everyone knows where it is).  My Sit Spot is a sandstone slab on the earth, with the towering incense-cedar tree to my Northwest, the pruned roses arrayed before me, and a lovely view of my little backyard.  I press my hands into the moist ground, with its intricate layers of old cedar needles and bits of leaf and twig in disintegration, returning to the earth from “whence they came”.

Twigs And Earth

What My Student Told Me …

Yesterday, as we sat out in the garden opening our senses to the natural world and to the fullness of who we are as human beings, my Reiki Level 1 student commented that a holistic practitioner he knew recommended connecting physically with the earth every day, perhaps even for as long (or as short!) as a half hour, as a way to bring oneself into balance, to reduce stress.  From my own years-long foray into nature connection and nature awareness I know this to be true.  I was both delighted and awed by how we all carry so many bits of wisdom, gleaned from our encounters with the right people at the right time, from our own seeking, and eventually we bump into the truth of what we carry again and again, so that we finally come to believe and say ‘yes’ to it.  The wisdom goes into our bones.

It was that way with my student yesterday, as he told me what his friend had said about connecting with the earth, and about how cultures have taught their people to give their anger or grief or pain to the earth and that it’s okay.  Mother Earth is not hurt by this kind of energy we give to her.  She feeds on it, composts it, and something good grows from that humus.  I nod, thinking of a succession of times I pressed my hands to the ground in the past–or even lay on the ground, begging my Mother to please take that pain away, and then feeling that shift, and knowing myself to be cradled by the earth.  The pain might still be there, but it was changed, smoothed, and soothed.  Made bearable.  And eventually I could get up, press my hands onto the earth once more, pour my love and gratitude into that ground through my hands, my feet, my whole being, and … move on.

My student spoke of actually laying down on the ground, every day.  Why not, I think now.  What would happen if I did so, each day?   Okay, let’s be realistic and gentle with myself — how about each week?  Or even just on the New Moon (which happens to be today).  Or once on a Blue Moon.  Maybe it could be for me like receiving Communion growing up as a Catholic.   Rain or shine … lay down on the earth for a time, and just be.

What might change for me, inside?  How might my sense of self twist and stretch, and my comfort zone (“but it’s muddy! There’s chicken poop!  I’ll get my hair dirty, and my clothes … and what about those worms?”)?   If I really believe that restoring our intimacy with nature can transform our culture, heal it and ourselves, then what might happen if I tried this one thing?

Chickens in the garden

Lord Firestar, Egglantine, Lady Sandstorm, and Yellow go barefoot everyday …!

A Story I Heard

I recall hearing about a girl who came from a village in Africa, where she was always barefoot, to America, where she now wears shoes.  She says that we have eyes on our feet, and that she feels that it is now as if she were blind.  She used to see through her feet.

If I lay on the ground once a week, or every few days, or every day, what might happen if I walked barefoot into the yard? This would not necessarily be so challenging–the weather is incredibly mild where I live right now.   I don’t think we’ve even had a frost yet this winter!  What might I discover if I closed my eyes (even for a second or two) as I walked, and opened the eyes of the souls of my feet?   What if I saw with my hands, drank in my surroundings through my nose, tasted the garden in the air–maybe like some kind of sense-of-taste/smell/sound/touch echolocation?  Can I do those things?  Is it possible?

I’m inside the house at my computer, asking these questions.  I’m curious about the answers, and maybe … next time I step outside … I will even try to find out the answers.  Or begin the adventure of finding out.

All of these ideas awakening, coming together, just because I listened to what a little bird told me:

Wake up, wake up! A new day dawns! The world is new and so are you!

What Will You Tell Me?

How about you?  I’d love to hear about your own ways of connecting with the earth, the natural world.   Do you connect by way of a beloved animal companion?  (“Oh my gosh, what critter is my dog chasing now?  I had no idea we had mice in our yard!”)  By way of your children and their exuberant curiosity?   (“Ulp, how high are you climbing that tree?”)  Or through your own spiritual questing and connection? (Opening to the heart opens you to the soul of the world …).  Through poetry? (Ah, those Mary Oliver poems ….!)

What bits of wisdom about connecting with earth, sea, birds, trees, the animals do you carry and live out in small and large ways in your every day — or even every once in awhile?

And the next time you hear a bird, I invite you to stop a moment and listen, and connect with what’s in your heart.  What do you think that bird is telling you,  inside?   And where might that bird be leading you?

Please share your discoveries below!

Sweet Joy by Jane

 Sweet Joy – watercolor/colored pencil art by Jane, created for Valerie



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