This is one of my all-time favorite poems. I've changed "God" to "Goddess" and "Holy Ghost" to "Sophia" and used it to call East a number of times.
Hopkins' description of the Earth, upon which "Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod," evokes the way things look in February when our feet, being shod, don't get to feel the Earth. But, he assures us that: "There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went , Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-- Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings!" Spring is coming. Look to the East.
"God's Grandeur" (1877)
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-- Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings!
Here's another poem by Galway Kinnell that I think is good for Imbolc; it's about flames.
Another Night in the Ruins BY GALWAY KINNELL
1 In the evening haze darkening on the hills, purple of the eternal, a last bird crosses over, ‘flop flop,’ adoring only the instant.
2 Nine years ago, in a plane that rumbled all night above the Atlantic, I could see, lit up by lightning bolts jumping out of it, a thunderhead formed like the face of my brother, looking down on blue, lightning-flashed moments of the Atlantic.
3 He used to tell me, “What good is the day? On some hill of despair the bonfire you kindle can light the great sky— though it’s true, of course, to make it burn you have to throw yourself in ...”
4 Wind tears itself hollow in the eaves of these ruins, ghost-flute of snowdrifts that build out there in the dark: upside-down ravines into which night sweeps our cast wings, our ink-spattered feathers.
5 I listen. I hear nothing. Only the cow, the cow of such hollowness, mooing down the bones.
6 Is that a rooster? He thrashes in the snow for a grain. Finds it. Rips it into flames. Flaps. Crows. Flames bursting out of his brow.
7 How many nights must it take one such as me to learn that we aren’t, after all, made from that bird that flies out of its ashes, that for us as we go up in flames, our one work is to open ourselves, to be the flames?
Today is the day we witches celebrate the clear movement towards Spring that we've made since Yule. The sun gets up earlier, stays up later, shines a stronger and different quality of light upon us these days. On Imbolc, we honor the Goddess Brigid, a goddess of the fire of inspiration, the well of creativity, of smithcraft and of poetry.
Reya started, and Deborah Oak has continued, a great new tradition: blogging poetry on Imbolc to honor Brigid. And, so, in between getting ready for a houseful of witches this evening, spending some silent time at my own altar, and standing in a sweater on the porch, letting the firey sun shine through my closed eyelids, I'll share a few of the poems that I love.
Hail, Brighid, the Bright. Hail and Welcome!
St. Francis And The Sow
The bud stands for all things, even those things that don't flower, for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing; though sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness, to put a hand on the brow of the flower and retell it in words and in touch it is lovely until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing; as St. Francis put his hand on the creased forehead of the sow, and told her in words and in touch: blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow began remembering all down her thick length, from the earthen snout all the way through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail, from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine down through the great broken heart to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them: the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
One of the best-kept secrets about being a Wiccan is that it's really important to "pay attention" to the changing seasons. Sure, everyone knows that Wiccans "worship nature" and "celebrate seasonal holidays." But the actual practice of being a witch involves paying daily attention to small (but vastly important) details such as the quality of light, tiny buds on trees, the smell of the night air, the color of clouds, the first bold bud to push up from underneath the frost-hardened ground. If you only notice the changes 8 times a year, you're missing out on the other 357 days of wonder and amazement and calm and excitement and tiny changes and pure, unadulterated attention.
I was reminded this week of the importance of daily practice. Without warning and in a v. hectic and crowded situation, at the end of a long day and too much stress, my brilliant friend E and I were asked to do some v. important magic. We stood in a strange, crowded kitchen, with strangers going back and forth for ice and wine and Goddess knows what, and quickly pulled together an important spell with salt, and water, and a plastic bowl. No athames. No oils. No incense. No robes. No dancing drums. Surrounded by strangers who, open and receptive as they were, had never, ever experienced magic, ever before.
And, as E began the grounding, my heart was pounding, my monkey mind was chattering, my ego was demanding attention. And, then, it happened. The daily practice took over. I knew, even in that strange basement, how the Earth felt to my roots in January close to the Potomac, how the sky felt to my branches beneath the waning winter moon, where I was, what I was doing, who I am. Years of the Ha Prayer clicked into place. My daily prayer: "I am a manifestation of the Goddess. Mother, help me to grow into my better self," effectuated itself and I was "there," in sacred space, a daughter of the Moon, a priestess of the Great Mother Earth, ready to do the magic that I'd been called upon to do. I called East and West and Athenae and did what the Goddess needed done in that moment, in that place, for those women, in that perilous time. E called South and North and Lilith and did what the Goddess needed done in that moment, in that place, for those women, in that perilous time. And, it worked. The magic took over and the magic happened and the magic worked. Perfectly. In the "real" world, on a demonstrable level, observable.
I was also reminded of the joys of working in a circle. E and I have been doing magic together, come dark moon, come full moon, come cross quarter days, come solstice, come equinox, come what may, for several years now. It's a joy and a delight and a deep, coursing undercurrent to my daily practice to know that I work within a circle, that I can trust these few women with my secrets, my self, my fears, my magic, my power, my cares, my loves. To know that I can lean back upon that circle and draw from it and find myself placed geographically, between the worlds, within that magical working.
And, so, I am delighted to trip over the web and find women all over the world honoring Brighid the Bright, preparing for Imbolc, noting the changing seasons, turning the wheel of the year. A witch's job is to turn the wheel and round and round the wheel does turn. Feel free to note in comments any blogs honoring Brighid and I'll try to add them here in updates.
A blessed Imbolc to you and to your daily practice. It's all Goddess pouring Goddess into Goddess.
Ladies! Listen up! Catching breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.
Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year.
And, here's a more graphic demonstration of a BSE:
This is not the first time you have seen Hillary Clinton seemingly at her wits' end, but she has always risen, always risen, don't forget she has always risen, much to the dismay of her adversaries and the delight of her friends.
Hillary Clinton will not give up on you and all she asks of you is that you do not give up on her.
There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you're born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies. Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to be what it can become.
She declares she wants to see more smiles in the family, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. She is the prayer of every woman and man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.
She means to rise.
Don't give up on Hillary. In fact, if you help her to rise, you will rise with her and help her make this country the wonderful, wonderful place where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety and without crippling fear.
In the morning, Desiree from CodePink goes to court for "disorderly conduct" because she confronted Condi Rice with the fact that Rice is a war criminal. She punched through the bubble in which the members of this junta live and let Rice know that some Americans are against the illegal war and occupation of Iraq.
That's not a crime. That's patriotism in action. But Desiree could be sent to jail tomorrow for 130 days. Or, her judge could do the right thing.
If you do magic, please do magic. if you pray, please pray. If you can send good wishes, please send good wishes.
It's dead serious, this time between Yule and Imbolc. It's the time of the year for forging ahead, for making real accomplishments.
I'm exercising like a mad woman and reorganizing files and writing articles and cleaning out the ritual room and taking charge of my health and doing v. serious things and moving money around and doing magic outside the Capitol and taking all of the cold-air steps that will seem too serious to approach in Spring. I'm standing in a garden stripped to its bones and conjuring its flesh as deeply as I know how to do.
And, yet, the v. best part of my life, the place where I am really living, the locus of my magic is the spot where G/Son teases me by pretending that he's going to eat the Soy Dough snakes we've made on his dining room table while Son and DiL do errands. We say, "Yucky!" and we say "Silly Nonna!" and we laugh until we get the hiccups. The place that matters most isn't where I do law or where I live in a circle or where I garden or where I foster revolution or where I dance. The place that matters most is the place where I change a diaper and discuss who has a penis and who has a vagina and read a story in the intense Western afternoon sunlight as a way of putting a tiny mancub down for his afternoon nap. Not a new skill. I put his father down for just such a nap, oh, thirty-three years or so ago. It feels so right and so good and it connects me so strongly to my ancestresses.
Here I am. I, too, am old. I, too, am looking back. I, too, remember what it's like. I, too, I too, I too, gentle the new generation into a nap, into a milk-drunk sleep, into a long rest in the strong sunshine. I lived long enough for this. I, too, I, too, have come to this place of the grandmothers. Move over, old ones. Make room for me. I've brought my knitting. I've brought my DNA. I've brought my progeny. Move over.
We witches honor the Goddess Brighid at Imbolc (February 2nd). A Goddess of Fire, Sacred Wells, Smithcraft, Childbirth, and Poetry, Brighid is one of the most obvious examples of xian appropriation. See, e.g., St. Brigid and her holy wells.
Friday, January 25, 2008 You are invited to the third annual Brigid in Cyperspace Poetry Reading
Well, Anne Hill asked if we were going to do this again, and I say YES! Feel free to copy the following to your blog and spread the word. Let poetry bless the blogosphere once again! WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading
WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2008
WHERE: Your blog
WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day
HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.
RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post. Last year when the call went out there was more poetry in cyberspace than I could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.
Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.
Thank you, Reya, for beginning what is now an annual event.
Posted by deborah oak at 4:20 PM
Labels: Brigid, poetry
Check back here on February 2nd. It's unlikely that I'll be able to contain myself to one offering.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."