Celebrating Imbolc

Many years ago, I lived on a another hill—one of the seven hills of Bath—and on an Imbolc eve it was raining. It was raining as if the Winter Cailleach had dumped her own bath upon us.

Tomorrow would be Bridghe’s day, but that night before was darkness-filled-with-sound—rain rattled on the roof, sang in short-lived streamlets around my warm, dry home—Brockham End, a home of badgers too—and I hoped they might be dry in their setts.

I lit a candle and talked to the Lady in her aspect of the Welcoming Dark, the safe and protected womb, the welspryng of life. She listened to my hopes, my plans, my dreams, and there in the light of her flame, she blessed the seeds I hoped to grow.

I slept well. And in the morning…
there were wild springs
and ephemeral waterfalls.

Let there be a few dry days and they would all be gone. But let the rain come pouring down and the little falls and rills come rushing, like children on sleds at the first snow.

The wild springs come leaping up in unlikely places—like the one in my kitchen floor. (My landlady had warned me “the kitchen is sometimes damp.” This was four inches deep with a small fountain spouting between two tiles.)

For a wild thing,
this welspryng seemed quite at home
in my kitchen.

How remarkably auspicious!

We sat and laughed together, and I thanked her for coming to visit on Imbolc. And I asked her, too, for a blessing my seeds to help them grow. Then I wondered aloud if she might be happier out of doors, free and with more room to run. And I thanked her again.

A welspryng in my kitchen
on Imbolc
is a wondrous gift.

When I came back an hour later the floor was nearly dry—only a little damp in the cracks. But I could hear her laughing beyond the outside wall. So I went out in the rain and sat on a wet rock beside the strong, swift rivulet she made, and we laughed together until I was as wet as she.

Today, years later, in Washington—another watery name in another wet clime—I again await Imbolc to the music of rain-on-roof and wind-in-tree. I wait, remembering long ago seeds, grown to flower and to fruit, some even grown to trees under which there is shelter.

Tonight, I’ll light another candle in Her honor and again ask a blessing for my hope-filled seeds.

I resolve
that on the morrow’s morn
I shall, however rainy it may be,
plant more seeds,
and leave them to grow
free and wild.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Another Winter Solstice

I’ve been trying and trying
(as I’m wont to do
at this point on the wheel of the year)
to figure out
what I need and want to achieve
in the coming dance around the Sun.

It always helps
to have a plan
or at least an intention —
or so I’ve believed.
It took me a long time to see
that this year is different.

Standing on the crest
of the moving wave of time,
I realize that simply
being here
is tricky enough.
Keeping my balance
is a full-time job.

With one new knee
and one old knee,
my two legs are trying
to learn to work together —
balanced, but flexible, adjusting
with poise, serenity,
and a certain easy nonchalance
to constant time travel.

And, it seems, that this applies
to everything in my life.
There is no stasis
in the realm of time.

Mindfulness is the only way.
Mindfulness of the whole picture —
of all of the forces,
all of the pressures and urges and needs,
all at once —
surfing the crest of the time’s wave.

And if I fall, plunging to the depths,
I must be mindful of that as well —
and then be sure
to at least find
a different error
for the next time.

I had wanted to set goals
but I’m told that, if I keep my balance
in the moment, what to do
and when to do it
serendipitously and synchronistically
becomes obvious.

All things make themselves known
in their proper season —
indeed, at their precise second.

That degree of mindfulness
doesn’t sound easy, but
it will be a fascinating way
to try to live.

Jessica Macbeth
21 December, 2012
© Copyright 2012 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.