Activism, South
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Turning the Tide, Planting Seeds – 8 Ways To Manifest a Better World at Imbolc

Brigid's Well | SpiritMAMA

I don’t really celebrate Imbolc. Probably because I’m tired out from the winter holidays but, also where I live in the Pacific Northwest, there is not much difference in the weather between January and February. It just rains. A lot.

This year I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff. The world is going crazy south of us here in Canada and no-one knows how it will all pan out for all of us. Everything feels suddenly hyperreal, as is common when faced with a threat – reality solidifies around survival instincts so we can have this pin-point of focus on the enemy.

Wheel of the Year | SpiritMAMAThere is really SO MUCH wrong in the world it can be overwhelming. My reaction thus far has been to try to keep my eye on all of it, as if in some way this will make it all safer. But this is impossible. It spreads my energies thin and accomplishes very little, other than creating a state of fear and worry. So this year, at Imbolc, I am doing something different.

Imbolc (pronounced Eem-OLG) is a Celtic fire festival and a cross-quarter day on the great Wheel of the year. Standing opposite to Lughnasadh, the first harvest in early August, Imbolc is Spring’s beginning, celebrated in honour of the goddess Brigid, patron Saint of Ireland.

The name ‘Britain’ is a derivation of Brigid’s name. Britain was named for an ancient Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, who worshipped Brigit and were the largest Celtic tribe to occupy the British Isles in pre-Roman times. Her worship probably spread from the Continent, leaving place names behind, such as Brittany in France. Brigit place names are found in Brechin, Scotland, the river Brent in England, the river Braint in Wales, Bridewell in Ireland. Even London has a Bridewell. ~ from the Order of Bards and Druids website

Lady of the Well and the fire, tripartite in function, Brigid is the goddess of blacksmiths and the sacred forge, of poets and fiery creative inspiration, and of healers. In Celtic tradition, Imbolc is Briget’s Feast Day.

Oíche Fhéile Bríde, the eve of the Feast of Bride in Ireland was celebrated by bands of children carrying a Bride doll from home to home. Women brought out cake and ale and invited neighbours in for a ceilí, to welcome Brigit. Milk products – butter, cheese and milk, were always served. The Saint herself was said to be abroad that night with her sacred white cow, blessing farmsteads and homes. People left out a piece of cloth, representing the brat Bríde, a piece of her sacred mantle, for the saint to bless as she passed by, which would be used to heal people and animals, especially in giving birth, the coming year. An offering of food for the saint and her cow was left in exchange. ~ OBOD

One translation of Imbolc means ‘ewe’s milk’ as this is the time of year when baby lambs were born and there was milk, cheese and butter a-plenty. A welcome change from winter stores that would be dwindling by now – hence the cow is sacred to Brigid.

As I was researching this holiday, I came across it called ‘the first planting’. Traditionally throughout Northern Europe, folks would prepare the soil in their gardens and farmland by dousing it with ashes, herbs and salt even if it was still under feet of snow. They fed their hearths with herbs and charms, guarding the life-giving fire from the still-icy air. This really intrigued me. I realised that metaphorically, I’ve been preparing my own soil, feeding my own hearth.

All this January I’ve been planning planning planning. Planning my blog for 2017, planning my family’s schedules and excitedly working with my favourite goal planning workbook (totally unpaid link there – it’s just awesome).

I’ve also been preoccupied with the notion, that we collectively manifest our shared reality. Kind of like, ‘you are what you eat’, but more like we are what we consume.

I realised, in light of the state of the world, I needed to sit back and reevaluate my approach. To… everything.

What if instead of buying into the media’s fear mongering, we all just turned it off? What if instead of Facebook (AKA Orwell’s two-way TV set), we spent real time with our communities? And what if, instead of (or as well as) attending protests, we attended to our own healing?

I know it sounds crazy, to just turn away.

I’m not saying to tune out. I’m saying in the face of such huge adversity we could to go deeper inside ourselves, rather than out.

Each one of us is immeasurably powerful. We are makers. We manifest the world around us, with our thoughts, our deeds and our words. You get that? We actually make the world. You and me. Together. If every one of us pursued our own healing, from whatever it is that ails us, whether it be physical or mental or emotional, if we pursued the healing of our wounds with as much vigour, ferocity and passion that I’ve seen in people of late, the world would change. Very quickly.

It’s a message from Brigid. Heal thyself and then the world heals. Manifest a better world through the healing of your own life. It will radiate out from you in waves.

I was delighted to realise that Imbolc had been working on me all along, even though I wasn’t really celebrating it. It’s like I can see the footprints of the goddess all over my psyche. So in light of that, I’ll share with you a few seeds I am planting this year that may inspire you in your own life and practice:

  1. Get off Facebook. Or at least modify. Although I can’t actually get off Facebook entirely (because I work on there), I have gone through my Likes, Groups, Pages and Friends and gotten rid of anything working the negative and anyone obsessed with the negativity.
    • I’ve also made a commitment to share only positive messages. This is a far cry from my usual political fare unfortunately, but, there is amazing, hopeful, ground-breaking, inspiring stuff going on the world that needs to be seen far more. I share only the wins!
  2. Focus on the positive. I’ve gone through my email lists and unsubscribed to many, making my inbox a little less full of bad news. Part of me thinks that I am letting down the dogs in Soi, the dolphins in Taiji and Amnesty International by unsubscribing but, for now, it’s a needed purge. The point is not to abandon all of these causes. The point is to manifest a better world for every being. We can’t help to do this when we are inundated with all that is going wrong on a daily basis.
  3. Create a 2017 Vision Board. Not sure what’s most important to you this year? Feeling drained, scattered (or freaked out) and wondering where you should focus your energies? Vision boards are a fun and creative way to help flesh out your goals and what’s really important to you this year. Just grab your old stack of magazines and newspapers, some glue and pens and pencils, paints or whatever medium you feel drawn to. Clear a spot in your house where you can cut and paste to your heart’s desire and create a collage of what inspires you, right now. Or, you can do one on Pinterest! Check out mine for 2015 here and 2016 here. I like to do both a paper one and a Pinterest one.
  4. Be a champion of ONE cause. As I mentioned earlier the state of the world can be overwhelming. We can feel like we need to donate, protest, canvass, send emails and sign petitions around everything. All this is great but it again can leave us feeling powerless and stretched thin. OR I’ve seen people completely turn away from the actualities of what’s happening on our planet and go into denial (climate crisis much?). I think this is a survival mechanism.
    A solution to this is to choose one cause that is near and dear to your heart and throw all of your resources at it. Raise funds for it, throw parties about it, write your letters and make your phone calls. Make it like your family mascot. Involve your kids in the choosing. Choose somewhere where you feel like you can really make a difference that will provide teachable moments for them.
  5. Commit to Goal Setting. I already mentioned Leoni Dawson’s excellent goal setting workbook kits earlier in this post. I highly recommend them. The kits come with the workbook, a daily planner, to-do lists and this awesome huge wall calendar that helps you break down your big goals into baby steps. These are all designed by her in rainbow colours and illustrations. I {heart} them and use them every year. Note: you can also get the Biz kit, for you creative entrepreneurs out there. I am using this one this year especially. Here’s that link again.
  6. Morning Pages. These are a concept from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. Having read this 20 years ago, I keep coming back to them simply because they work. What are they? A tool to get unstuck. A foray into the depths of your consciousness. A garbage dump.
    You just get up a bit early every day and write – 3 pages of foolscap, non-stop. Don’t edit, don’t read back, don’t try to do ‘good writing’, don’t plan what you’re going to write about – that’s not what this is about. It’s about purging. The result is that a lot of gunk is out of the way of your creative process, enabling you to step into the flow.
  7. Commit to exercise regularly. For me, this means finally going to see a physiotherapist, because that hamstring tear I got in yoga teacher training never went away. I actually can’t do much on that leg at all. So for me, it’s pay attention to your injuries! For you this could mean committing to a daily walk in the neighbourhood or buying that gym membership or if you’re a yogi like me, why not do a 30-day challenge? The positive effects of daily exercise are immeasurable. From avoiding disease, to strong bones, to better sex and heart health, there are so many reasons why our bodies want us to get moving. Not to mention if you have kids, they are watching your every move. Your good habits (and bad ones) rub off on them.
  8. Meditate. I’ve written about this before here and here. A meditation practice is in my opinion, the single most important thing any of us can do – in a spiritual practice, yes – but also to heal ourselves and the world.

Rich with symbolism, Imbolc is the first herald of the returning sun. Perched inside our warm abodes, we look to the future and know it will inevitably be brighter. With the cold all around us but the sun on the eastern horizon, it’s a perfect time to review the past year and make adjustments for the coming one.

There’s no better time to do this work than now when the alchemical fires of Brigid’s sacred forge are burning. Can you feel it? The start of a new year and a crazy new beginning for the western world. What kind of world do we want to live in together? How can we heal?

Let’s manifest it.

Some sources for this post:

Order of Bards Ovates and Druids – Brigid

 

Featured image of Brigid’s Well via Wikimedia

This entry was posted in: Activism, South
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SpiritMAMA is the blogspace of Sky Bray, wellness blogger, student of yoga, shamanism, proud Mama.

2 Comments

  1. Colleen says

    Wonderful writing as usual, Sky. Living here in the US, it is a real challenge to not be dragged down into the mud of the political upheavals going on. However, since the current regime is hell-bent on destroying the fabric of our democracy, we have no choice but to get loud and protest and sign petitions and make phone calls. We have to! That being said, we can choose to remain positive and loving, and realizing that this is something we have to periodically go through. And i tell ya, it has brought citizens together like nothing i’ve ever seen before in my 65 years of living on this earth.

    For myself, I have had to evaluate where i want to put my protest energies, what are my priorities. As a shamanic healer, stewardship of the earth is of utmost importance so i do what i can to support the agencies working for the health of our water, air and soil. The other priority is Social Security and Medicare. With us boomers retiring at unprecedented rates we need our benefits that we paid into for 40 years. This is not a government give-away program. We paid into this fund just as we would an IRA or other pension plan. We also pay into Medicare. Neither of these is a gimme. No tickey, no laundry. And now the 1% is trying to “privatize” it all which would be disastrous. Why not? I mean, what do they have to worry about? They have their billions to fall back on. I think it would be fair to say the majority of Americans are one paycheck away from homelessness.

    I am in such deep gratitude for all the goodness that has been flowing into my life. Along with that flow of goodness has also come some tough stuff to get through. But the good outweighs the not-so-good and I am very blessed to live the life i have.

    I hope your health is doing well. Good for you for attending to that hamstring tear. They can be a real bugger from what i understand. I myself am recovering quite well from a broken hip and subsequent partial hip replacement, due to a very nasty fall. I was fortunate that my femur did not shatter, i fell so hard. And there have been blessings in all of this as well. The gems in the muddy trench.

    Like

    • Ouch Colleen! Hip replacement is big! Glad to hear you are recovering well.

      I hear you – all of what you said. Good hear that people are coming together under this umbrella of insanity. Looks like it’s shaping up to be a big fight in the US for many things that modern folk have come to hold dear – free speech, right to choice, multiculturalism – not to mention the environment. And I am praying for Standing Rock. They are so vulnerable right now.

      I like that you are choosing where to put your protest energies – that’s exactly what I meant here. For us I think this year, we will concentrate on our own back-yard. Wolves and caribou in BC are dying out quickly due to habitat loss to industry. There are First Nations groups here who are fighting hard against salmon fish farms that are killing our wild salmon stocks. These are all close to my heart. Also we have an election coming up and our current government is very corrupt. I just heard that the BC Green Party has gotten the most private donations it has ever gotten in the history of our province so, that is hopeful.

      So much to fight for, I hope it brings out the fight in everyone. We just need to be strategic about it and balance our energies with self-care and reflection – or risk burn-out!

      Like

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