from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?


– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.


Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.


Roselle Angwin

Friday, 16 February 2018

Ash



7th January 2004–12th February 2018

It took a minute. Less than a minute.
All those months of fear and the anticipation
of pain – mine, of course. In seconds,
her eyes simply closed. Gentleness
is like that. And love. I had my hand
on her head and was stroking that soft place
in front of her ear, the place the silver
of pussy-willow in spring, though that
should be dog-willow. I was singing.
Yes, I carried on singing for minutes
though my voice couldn’t bear me up,
though I was the desolation of a distant
foghorn, broadcasting to nothing,
nowhere, no-one, on and on.

Listen, you have to bear the darkness.
You have to hear it. You have to walk
into the darkness willingly, without
wishing for light. If you don’t (I wrote
once), the darkness will come looking
for you. Listen, the journey to the
Palace of Nowhere is not long,
not even arduous. You have
simply to open to darkness, let it
into the sanctum of your heart
until it meets with light and is melted;
and in that marriage you might
at last be free.




 © Roselle Angwin, 15th Feb 2018
























'Palace of Nowhere' is a phrase of Thomas Merton's





Thursday, 1 February 2018

Imbolc/Candlemas/Brighid the Lady

I said I wouldn't, but I have (write a new post). This is marking a new cycle for me. So, Imbolc:


Imbolc is the first of the fire festivals, the first cross-quarter date, in the Celtic new year. Situated at1st/2nd February, we could see it as the cracking-open of the earth now that the light is returning as we move further away from the darkest night of the midwinter solstice.

Very much dedicated to The Lady, at Imbolc, or Candlemas as it has become in the Christian era, we celebrate the birth or rebirth of the Maiden from the darkness, like Persephone. At this time, we start to move away from the time of the Crone, or Cailleach, sometimes known as Cerridwen, towards the time of the Flower-Maiden, Blodeuwedd.

We’re now exactly poised between the solstice and the vernal equinox, when Maiden and Mother share a moment.

It’s a misty time in the southwest of Britain. Sometimes the weak sun allows us to sit outside; but elsewhere, and sometimes here, it can be a harsh time, with the snowdrops and catkins seeming merely a faint promise. This year, though, they're in full flower in the lanes and garden, with daffodils showing a hint of yellow too.

As the word ‘imbolc’, or ‘oimelc’ tells us in its early Irish etymology, the time is ‘milky’, with ewes bearing the the first (white) lambs (those that weren’t born in November). In parts of Scotland, women still offer milky porridge to the ocean at this time of light and water.

Nine months on from Beltane, May 1st, and its old midsummer fertility fires, many children, too, would be born at this time.

Snowdrops are, of course, the perfect symbol of this new life being reborn through the snows of the winter. Here in Devon the catkins are fully out now, dusting the bare hedges with their gold. Snowdrops have been open for a week or two; my witch hazel flying fragrant streamers for a month; hundreds of periwinkles are studding the hedgerows, hellebore are shaking out their greeny-rose flowerheads – and I picked the first wild garlic a few days' ago.

One of the trees dedicated to the goddess of the late winter/early spring is the blackthorn, whose blossom arrives before the leaves. I haven’t yet seen any blackthorn trees in flower; sometimes the valleys are white with them down here in Devon even in January (hawthorn flowers don’t come till May, as their other name, may blossom, tells us).

Candles’ soft light reminds us of the stirrings of new if delicate life as the returning sun fertilises the waiting earth.

This festival is presided over by Bride (or Brighid, Brig, Brigit), the Lightbringer, one manifestation of the Great Goddess, who gave her name to so many places in Britain (which itself is a variant on her name). She is associated with sacred fire, the fertile earth, poetry, smithcraft and weaving, and healing.

You can make a Brigid’s Cross, as I have above, from reeds gathered by the brook at this full-moon time (info on Youtube).

Light the candles and dream new life into incarnation.


NEW FOR IMBOLC, APPLICABLE FROM THEN TO THE SPRING EQUINOX: A SOLO DAY-RETREAT, AVAILABLE FROM THIS LINK.







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