The Quickening Year

Imbolc_Quickening Altar

I love the word “quickening.” It is a very old word, found in medieval Anglo-Saxon herbals, and still used today. It usually means when a pregnant woman feels the child move inside her for the first time. It is also a nice metaphor for this time of year. At Imbolc, winter begins to rouse from its slumber. Those of you in snowy climes must feel that spring is still far, far away, but here in middle California, everything has greened up from all the rain, and shoots are pushing up through the damp earth. We are at the first days of spring on the old calendar, the turn that is called Imbolc by those celebrating the pagan old ways, or Lá Fhéile Bríde in Gaelic, or Candlelaria in Spanish, or Groundhog Day in the United States. This year I cannot say it any more eloquently that my friend John Cutrone over at Convivio Book of Days, so hie you over there for a lovely post about Imbolc.

Imbolc_Flowering Quince

The flowering quince is one of the first bushes to bloom at this time of year. I love its coral pink blush, which says that warmer days are near. I drew a little of it to decorate my “Q” on the journal page above.

I have been  quiescent this last month, (well, I am all about the “q” words today) – not exactly slumbering but quiet after all the activity of recent months. Everyone needs to rest. Resting for me is taking the time to cull and sort old photographs, scan them, add keywords, to finally make a comprehensible, searchable digital photo archive. It will probably take me all year to do this. And I’ve been writing after arising in the morning, not only by hand in my journal, but here at the keyboard. Brigid seems to attend me, kindling the embers of my imagination as I find my way through an old family story. It also will probably take me all year.

Last night I treated myself to a book that is perfect for this holy day, Tending Brigid’s Flame, using the sacred electrons to download the Kindle version to my iPad, quite quickly! It is full of lore and stories of Brigid, as well as meditations and devotions. It is a lovely book, by my priestess friend Lunaea Weatherstone, and as she has often done, she brought me back to my spiritual center. I sometimes think if I am not chanting a ritual or performing magic spells, that I have somehow strayed from my path. And yet, I perform many small devotions in my day that reflect my belief in what another friend of mine, Ruth Temple, calls the Sacred Quotidian (oh lovely, another “q” word). This just means the mundane, the “daily” as one of my children calls it, the ordinary that is extraordinary simply by virtue of our being alive to participate in it. For an example, my first act every single morning is to light the hearth candle. When I retire at night, I extinguish it. It is my job in the household. And thanks to the book’s chapter entitled “Brigid and the Power of Words” I am reminded that my writing is another act of devotion, whether musing in my journal, writing my family story, or even showing up here to commune with you, dear reader. Brigid of the poem, Brigid of the flame, Brigid of the forge: she is everywhere, making the mundane sacred. And to come full circle to the beginning of this post and my use of the word “quickening”, Lunaea wrote: “Brigid in springtime is the life force embodied. She is midwife to the world, drawing it forth from winter’s dark enclosure into the light.”

May we all feel a bit of Brigid’s magic today, as we remember that, in my own wordsmithing, “the wheel again will turn to spring, this blessed time much joy to bring!”

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