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As the spring wakes us from our winter sleep, beneath the urge to wash away the lingering dregs of the previous year, I stronger call to give pulls me sideways.
I cannot shake the experience of the week past, when driving home from a friend's house at sunset, I encountered a detour two blocks from the turn I needed to make. A firetruck blocked three lanes on a major road, and as I followed the other detoured vehicles I glimpsed the accident....
The 2nd of February is of course, the Celtic festival of Imbolc, which means 'in the belly' referring to the pregnant ewes giving birth at this time. One of its other names, Oimelc meaning 'ewes milk', also referring to the birth of the lambs, and the return of milk to the household. Sacred to the goddess Brighid, who became St Brigit with the coming of Christianity this time is known as Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau in Wales, and more generally the Christian festival of Candlemass.
Brighid may well have given her name to Britannia the sovereign goddess of Britain, but she is best known as a goddess of the hearth and home, as well as milking, midwifery, healing, smithcraft and poetry. Brighid is a fiery goddess, connected to the rising Kundalini in the earth at this time, bringing the spring. She is said in Scottish folklore to have to defeat the Cailleach or goddess of winter each year to bring life back to the land....
No, we don't worship Satan. No, we don't practice human sacrifice. No, we don't eat babies.
Gods. Is there anything more boring than Wiccans being earnest?
Give me satire over earnestness any day of the moon. The stereotypes are a tool, up there with wands and athames, handed to us on a silver pentacle.
Back when, here in Paganistan, the Besom Brigade used to show up at the Heart of the Beast May Day Parade, black steeple hats and all, doing their precision broom drills down the middle of Bloomington Avenue while chanting cadences about eating children.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Two days and one hundred years ago, women first achieved the right to vote in Canada. This was in the Manitoba provincial election; the federal government followed two years later. So it is perhaps fitting that the day before is the day I finally chose to start reading "The Handmaid's Tale."
I've been a feminist and a science fiction fan since childhood, so many people have recommended this book to me over the years. The year it was published, 1986, I was eleven. I think someone first recommended it to me in 1991, when I was protesting the Gulf War. I always meant to read it. It was "on my list," especially as a Canadian. Margaret Atwood is considered to be one of the most significant Canadian writers and "The Handmaid's Tale" is a feminist icon.
Well, here it is, right on cue: Bridey's Spring. What cowans call the “January thaw.”
Winter started off gently—the lakes didn't ice over until well after Yule—but we did endure a foul run of sub-zero highs in mid-January, just to remind us who's boss.
Then, just as we prepare to light the untamed torches of Imbolc (or what novelist Richard Grant calls “the mannerly votives of Candlemas”), it might as well be spring. The air is moist and fragrant, and oh that delicious music of dripping water.
Like Indian Summer, Bridey's Spring has its own painful beauty, that fleeting Yukio Mishima poignancy of the necessarily ephemeral.
Winter will be back soon enough. There's plenty more ice and snow in store.