Rising Sap & New Moons

imbolc_square

Imbolc is just a few days away, and it is one of my favourite days on the Wheel of the Year.  This year is comes aided by a new moon and I don’t know about you, but I can already feel the rising sap, up in my bones, as I look for the first snow drops to appear, heralding a change. Above I’ve chosen a selection of pieces that remind me of this energy– clockwise from the upper left– The Snowdrop Fairy Flower Earrings, The Mother Troll Amethyst Necklace, The Griffin Milk Earrings, The Gerd– a delicate sterling silver strand with faceted chrysoprase, the silver scent locket (what would you put inside to herald spring?) and lastly the Cosmic Hug pendant of Rose Quartz.

Tomorrow I’ll be putting together my altar, and cleaning and oiling all my tools in honour of the heathen Charming of the Plough.  I’ll give thanks to Brigid, who in the form of Brigantia, was the goddess of the tribal ancestors of this area– she was also the goddess of the forge, brewing and poetry; she has guided my hand in all these things and I am eternally grateful. What do you do to celebrate Imbolc and herald the first glimmerings of spring?

Blessed Imbolc

Of all the pagan feast days, Imbolc is close to my heart. Spring is coming– and Brigid presides over the new sun, the quickening sap in the trees, the buds preparing to flower.

Brigid’s presence is felt all over this island, with many places being named after her. Brid(e) is Brigid; t is thought that her blessing was sought by brides. She is also the goddess of blackberries and swans, poets and blacksmiths–  a perfect correspondence!  I feel her over my shoulder as I work.

I have quoted Emily Dickinson’s poem 365 here before, but it is perfect here:

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?
Then crouch within the door —
Red — is the Fire’s common tint —
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame’s conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.
Least Village has its Blacksmith
Whose Anvil’s even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs — within —
Refining these impatient Ores
With hammer, and with Blaze
Until the Designated Light
Repudiate the Forge —

To celebrate today, I’ve experimented with making some incense from dried herbs and flowers– basil, bay, camomile flowers, cinnamon, dill, nettle and rosemary.  All ground up with my mortar and pestle and burned over a charcoal disc.

Blessed Imbolc, dear reader!

Imbolc Bride, Necklace by Feral Strumpet on Etsy

Impatient Ores

Blacksmith helped by a fox spirit

Blacksmith helped by a fox spirit

I just got back from a walk on the canal to clear my head.  A story’s been riding me like my very own kitsunetsuki— fox possession.  I can’t think of anything but, and it’s disturbingly demanding trying to get it down, so full of kitsune-be, fox-fire, that it won’t let itself be forgot.

You can go two ways on the canal.  One way you walk by unloved River Brent, sacred to Brigid, the old goddess of this place, the patron of poets and blacksmiths.  The river is named after her and pays tribute to the mighty Thames in nearby ancient Brentford.  The road outside the renovated church where I live was a Roman crossing and it now marks the place where the river and canal become one in the same.

I went the other way, wanting to avoid walking past the Hanwell asylum wall as I was already raw from my imaginings.  I followed the river south, where the blackberry bushes, also sacred to Brigid, are in flower.

For much of the walk I was completely alone save the coots and swans (also sacred– Brigid is everywhere) and a couple of pensioners out on their canal boats, working the locks.  The fetid green water moved along invisibly, clotted with vegetation and garish plastics that will outlive us.

The cranesbills flower in the folds of rusted fencing. The willow over the rivulet broods beside the path which undoubtedly leads to the ghost of Lady Boston, murdered by her husband, pacing over her unmarked grave in the park beside the Boston Manor tube station.  There’s a small pond haunted by a suicide there, not far off.  Indeed the only company the poor ghosts have now are a few Polish men living rough, leaving their lager cans and ashes behind.

I can’t say I will miss this place, despite its green mercies.  In many ways it’s hemmed me in, not unlike my spectral neighbors doing their obsessive rounds alone.

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?
Then crouch within the door–
Red–is the Fire’s common tint–
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame’s conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.
Least Village has its Blacksmith
Whose Anvil’s even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs–within–
Refining these impatient Ores
With Hammer, and with Blaze
Until the Designated Light
Repudiate the Forge–

–Emily Dickinson