“Blessed Brighid burning bright
Lead us from the darkest night
Triple Goddess of new life
Shine your flame on us tonight
Perpetual flame of love and light…”
–Kellianna, Brigid’s Flame...
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There used to be a time when identifying as an introvert might be akin to admitting you had a social disease. Since there is such a thing as geeky-cool now, and others fly their nerd flags high and proud, there is no shame in freely admitting that some of us recharge our batteries best solo, rather than surrounded by others. The world can be overwhelming, with non-stop cell phone tunes and Twitter tweets closing in on all sides. For one's mental and emotional health (which eventually effects the physical by the by), give yourself permission to turn off and drop out once in awhile. This is especially essential, if giving sidelong glares to strangers who sit too close on public transport is becoming the norm. And why is it in an otherwise deserted cafe, chatty Cathy always plops down right next you? Here are some kind suggestions to deal:
Learn to say, "no." It's been a crazy week and you've worked your last day of it. All you want to do is curl up with your latest SK tome or a good movie, under the covers, preferably with a mug of cocoa or tea. But your buddy who you haven't seen in many moons sends you a cheery text. "Having a last-minute party! Are you in?" Let me answer for you, fellow introvert. No. No you are not. You are not there in that frame of mind, and you will not get there, just because you force yourself to go. If all you want to do is hide from the planet, the last thing you want to do is plant yourself in an over-stimulating party scene. Likewise, cramming into an over-crowded bar to see a band is a bad idea. Because if you go, you will be resentful. You will be uncomfortable. Even if you are able to distract yourself for awhile, ultimately you are going to be wishing you were snug at home with your original plans. So that is your plan. When people invite you out, you say you have them already. It isn't necessary to go into great detail as to what they are. Take a raincheck and meet your friend for a one-on-one coffee chat, where you can really catch up the following week.
Unplug. Turn off the computer. Shut off the phone. Stop scrolling! The world won't stop spinning, I promise. There used to be a time when if you weren't immediately available, people would patiently wait for you to get back to them. Remember that? When you wanted to know how someone else was doing in your life, you would ask them in person when you saw them. Doing this for 24-48 hours can be sheer heaven. Lose yourself in a project that you've been putting off. Take a long walk. If you're camping, you sure the heck better do this, or I will come after you and scold you.
Listen to the sounds of silence. Taking a retreat where you observe an internal mute button can be therapeutic, as well. Sometimes it's good to give your vocal chords a rest. This can be done in an actual retreat center where silence is observed after dinner, or perhaps an imposed one on your own. If you live with someone, they've got to respect it, though. Check yourself into a reasonably-priced hotel if necessary. The interesting side effect here, is that thoughts will come to you – often with clear insight and clarity. Clear the cobwebs and have a revelation. Write it down in a journal, if you don't want to forget. See, being on your lonesome isn't so bad now, is it? Happy Imbolc, introvert.
Imbolc approaches on silent, padded footsteps. A time of quiet rejoicing, where here in the UK the festival and time signifies the start of Spring. Though for many in North America, the equinox is when the celebrations for Spring begin, here in the warmer climes of these isles hugged by the gulf stream we already begin to see the changing of the seasons reflected in the green and growing things, as well as the birthing of new lambs. Just today, as I went outside to meditate, the songs of the birds had changed, and the robin and blackbird were singing their first songs of courtship, even as the blue tits chirped their appreciation of the sunlight. The slender green shoots of crocuses are beginning to appear, alongside a wash of green from the grape hyacinth shoots. Living so close to the sea, our south-facing garden is always ahead of the season it seems, and at this time of year, it's most welcome.
It's been a difficult winter for many, and the signs for the future can seem bleak. But as followers of an earth-based tradition, we know that we can look to nature for guidance, for inspiration, for sanctuary and for blessing. Our relationship with the land, sea and sky helps us through the darkest of times, with the gods and ancestors breathing their ancient breath into our bodies, inspiring us to carry on, to create change, to go with the flow. Nothing is permanent.
The Brideog, or “little Brigid,” comes down to us from ancient times. She was a corn doll (corn being wheat) that was fashioned into a female form and decorated with ribbons and shells. A bed of straw was prepared for her before the hearth in the home where she was assembled, and the young, unmarried women of the village would sit vigil with her on the night of January 31st. The next morning, on Imbolc, the girls would parade the brideog through the village to each home. There, the married women (or the female head of the household) would welcome the spirit of the Goddess. Create a modern-day Brideog using branches from your evergreen as a base, so adding a dash of Yuletide's hopeful energy. (Yule tree? But it's FEBRUARY! If you need to backtrack a bit, have a look at our introduction to this year-long magical project and tips for preparation and storage. If you do not have access to a Yule evergreen, fallen branches from other trees can be used for this craft. Use your favorite resource to identify the tree from which the branch came, and what energy that particular tree will bring to this work.)
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....