Monday, February 1, 2010

Imbolc, again

Halfway through winter, again.

An Cailleach Bhearra wandered around back in the 10th century in western Ireland, eating "seaweed, salmon, and wild garlic" (my kind of woman), looking for firewood.

If the day was bright and sunny, beware--she had gathered plenty of wood and was set for many cold days ahead. If the day was gray, she didn't bother, and she will make the days warm up again. Sound familiar?

Last summer Leslie and I left Dingle Doolin on foot, and headed up the trail to the Cliffs of Moher, Cailleach's country, climbing over stone walls and electrified fences, keeping an eye out for bulls, as we wend our way up to the cliffs.

A few times we crept carefully along trails just inches from a fatal fall. We were foolish, and were rewarded with the gift of life and shared love.

(You can, of course, go to the "official" Cliffs of Moher, and pay your euros for safe walkways, clean bathrooms, and an interpretive center to tell you what to experience.)

We live in a linear world, or pretend so. We try to teach our children to live in the same world, the world in our heads, the safe one. They buck this, as we did when we were young.

Winter lived well reminds me I will die. So will you. So will our children. Cailleach, the goddess of winter, destroys what is useless to make room for new life, and makes spring possible again.

My children will be on the west coast of Ireland this dreary month, and should they wander over to Dingle Doolin, my brain will urge them to stick to the sanctioned trails.

My heart, though, hopes otherwise. I want my children alive, of course, but I also want them to live.

Photos by Leslie: winter jetty taken Sunday, my leg over a cliff last summer (maybe I took that one).
And Leslie reminded me that our eldest has already walked the same trail--we did something right.


Kate said...

On Imbolc I know that life continues. The light has returned.

For me, of course, thirteen years ago tonight I was in labor. I had learned the day before that the baby I was carrying at 41 weeks gestation was two babies. Girls.

And so they arrived in the early morning, just after 1 AM. Two girls born on Imbolc.

Enough magic for anyone. And I too want them to really live.

(curiously, the people identifier 'word' was partimm)

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

I was thinking about you and your twins when I wrote this--13 is an interesting age for those with singletons, never mind twins.

Nice to see the light returning, and now I can see it without relying on USNO charts to confirm fleeting evidence.

Crocuses won't be long now!

Kate said...

We are planning a visit to Long Beach Island this summer for a week wit the grandparents. I keep thinking you are not THAT far from the causeway...

I am daily surrounded by thirteen-year-olds (7th grade). It is a wondrous age, full of nothing predictable but change.

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

LBI is Exit 63--we zoom by it in winter, crawl by it in summer, about a hundred times a year.

We're down at Exit 0. If you're ever headed for the Cape May/Lewes Ferry, let us know--that's our neighborhood!

Sue VanHattum said...

Thank you! I'm so glad to have Imbolc recognized among the blogs I follow.

Blessed be.

Oh, grow up! Kelly said...

Okay - be patient with me. The middle school arrested development kid in me says, "Did she also eat "dingle berries?" hahahahaha!

And the grown-up, adult teacher in me says, what a beautiful post. I had to look up more about this myth. I found this website:

Thanks, Doyle!
(...dingle berries...that's a good one!)

Leslie said...

Well, though we did go to Dingle, and have heard that particular reference more than once since we got back =D, the path to Moher actually starts at Doolin. Dingle was about a day's car ride away, including a ferry trip and a heart-stopping drive through the rain up and down Conner Pass.

doyle said...

Dear Sue,

Merry meet!

So few parts of our culture recognize cycles anymore--ironically, the closest thing to nature based calendars resides in the same Church that tried to erase paganism.

Though I am not in any formal way wiccan, Imbolc and Lughnasadh are my bookends. Hard not to connect to the sun when it's warming up my face on a chilly winter day.

Dear Kelly,

You've compounded my geography faux pas with your (fun) silliness.

Thanks for the link!

Dear Leslie,

Thanks for the gentle correction--maybe we should go back soon to fix my confusion.

Leslie said...

I keep checking air fares....

Kathryn J said...

Imbolc might be my second favorite of the Celtic holidays - after the Winter Solstice, of course. This post if filled with both beauty and wisdom - true living and mindfulness is crucial. I am enjoying the shrinking shadows and brightening skies immensely.