Quaker in the Green

Rising from strong roots,
we dance the body
electric and free.

Oak, ash, alder and elder
gather a circle
of living stones

To make and unmake,
weave and mend:
from wood, through fire and light,
song and story –
to return again.

River of life and death
will cleanse and clear the way,
creating songlines that echo in the soul.

Under cloudy continents, a harmony
of male and female reveals
goddess and god in modern dress.

Written by participants on ‘The Goddess and the Green Man in the Quaker’ course, Woodbrooke 17-19 August 2012.

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Imbolc / Candlemas

Winter Moon above Glastonbury Tor

Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marked the beginning of the lambing season and signaled the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. It is Feile Brighde, the ‘quickening of the year’. The original word Imbolg means ‘in the belly’, and therein you have the underlying energy. All is pregnant and expectant – and only just visible if at all, like the gentle curve of a ‘just-showing’ pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.

It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. (‘Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual’ – Doreen Valiente). it’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.

Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect.

Some of the symbols attributed to Brigid are:

The Snowdrop The first gift of Spring in the bleakness of Winter.

The Swan The swan mates for life and represents loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness. Swan feathers are a powerful amulet.

The Flame Imbolc is a Fire Festival and fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid – the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel – the Brigid Cross, which heralds her as a Sun Goddess.

Brigid’s Cross This is a traditional fire wheel symbol – found at the hearths of homes throughout Ireland and beyond as a symbol of protection. A customer in the shop recounted finding a hearth in Ireland, in recent years, adorned with over 200 Brigid Crosses – 200 years in the life of a hearth and a family, overlit and protected by Brigid.

Brigid Doll A very old tradition involved the making of a Brigid doll which can be included in ceremony and/or placed in ‘Bride’s Bed’ to bring fertility and good fortune to the home.

The Serpent In Celtic mythology Brigid was associated with an awakening hibernating serpent which emerged from its lair at Imbolc. Traditionally serpents were associated with creativity and inspiration – the powerful Kundalini energy of the Eastern Mysteries. Paths of earth energy were called serpent paths and at Imbolc they are stirred from their slumber.

Sheep Brigid’s festival is at the beginning of lambing – eat ewe’s milk cheese!

Imbolc Colours White and silver for purity, green for the fresh burst of life.