Out my window I see white. A wintry white sky fuses with the pallid earth in the field beyond my home. It is broken only by the dull, dirty outlines of houses and the grey reaching of trees. Even the evergreens seem dreary and burdened. The world feels ashen.
To those who appreciate the diverse tribes of peoples that came to be known as "Celts," fire is a vital element. In October, at year's end, the great Samhain bonfire burned beyond the pale, blending seasons and years, the living and the dead, that which we see, and that which we resist seeing.
The fire blazed brightly, consuming the debris of our lives until it slowly died, leaving embers that were stingy with their heat until they too went cold, giving up only ashes.
As ashes can no longer burn, they are free from anxiety and passion. Taking themselves lightly, ashes are slight and mobile -- but they are empty and at an end.
Some who have suffered a great conflagration take comfort in the ashes, it is a relief not to feel. Others live in ashes and never notice they were hollowed, "burned out", some years before. The ashes are a fine location to endlessly rue circumstance, but they are a place and a season that is winter cold.
The Samhain fire that left this footprint of ash also lifted prayers upward in its smoke. Prayers for continuance, for help and for hope. From the ash now stirs the answer to those prayers in the form of the fire-carrying underworld goddess Brigit.
Brigit, muse of poet, healer and artisan, ascends from her underworld forge to our world on February 1. We call that day "Imbolg," and it marks the first day of the Celtic spring.
A maiden goddess, Brigit brings the energy of a world to come -- inspiring us to create each of our days anew. A tireless goddess, she works the ashes of the world into rich, black soil, allowing seed and soul to take root. An enduring goddess, Bright spans history as St. Brigid, remaining as constant for us as she did for those who toiled the land before the Celts.
Rising from the underworld, Brigit is a goddess of soot -- of the dark residue of life. She is the protector of the everyday hearth, of those who sift ashes. Unlike the crone Cailleach who ushers the world into darkness, Brigit shepherds us out of the winter and into the light of a life that has once again changed, for good and forever.
May Brigit give blessing
To the souls that are here