Tuesday, February 2, 2010
History, Pledge and Offering
The groundhog did not see his shadow in DC, though the sun is peeking out from between the clouds now. Even though it's supposed to snow today, and we've had a real winter for a change, it will not last forever, or so goes the groundhog divination.
I love the Feast of Bridgid. That's today, February 2nd. It's the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox, a time here in Washington DC when the increasing daylight is suddenly irrefutable. A few weeks ago the increasing light was kind of symbolic, but today, it's real.
In San Francisco we celebrated the holiday with a two-fold event. We gathered as a community to contemplate the dark quarter of the year just past (from Halloween to Bridgid). It was my favorite public ritual. Imagine several hundred people walking counterclockwise around a central altar, meditating on the dark season. The idea was to decide what it was we wanted to leave behind, and what we wanted to bring with us into the light of spring. As each individual completed that meditation, he/she would turn and begin to walk clockwise. I always loved the feeling in the room when about half the participants had turned while others were still deep in meditation. I loved the sound of the feet on the wood floor, and the polite negotiating of the space between those going clockwise and those going counterclockwise.
After that exercise we opened our hearts to the idea of a pledge, something that would guide us into the season of spring with purpose and focus. Each person approached the central altar and spoke his/her pledge out loud. The community was there to witness these beautiful pledges. Someone on the edge of the circle "sealed" each pledge by tapping an anvil with a sledgehammer because Bridgid is the goddess (or saint, if you prefer) of poetry, smithcraft and healing.
Many years have passed since I've celebrated with a group in this way, but the pledges keep on coming, year after year. This year my pledge is:
I will say what I mean, and mean what I say.
Imagine the clang of the sledgehammer on the anvil.
The second piece of our celebration happened in smaller groups of friends who gathered for afternoon tea and poetry. Each person brought a poem to read aloud. Oh man, I LOVED the poetry gatherings, which is the reason I started the poetry slam here in the bloghood. Five years ago when the blog world was flooded with poetry it was so unusual, such a rush to go from blog to blog reading poetry.
Today many of my blog friends publish poems on a regular basis. Some, like Steven, publish a poem almost every day. Tom often publishes his psychedelic poetry, as does John who writes passionate, amazing poetry and is also a fantastic translator of French poetry. Willow has come out as a poet on her always excellent blog. I could go on, but you get the picture.
So I see poetry here all the time these days. It's a great luxury - but - it's still extra special on Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog Day, the Feast of Brigid - today, that is - because at this time of year poetry cracks the ice in the heart of the earth, reminding her that spring must come again, or so they say.
Happiest return to the light and warmth of spring! (To those in the southern hemisphere, may your journey into winter be safe and beautiful.)
LAUGHING AT THE WORD TWO
Seducing the formless into form
Had the charm to win my
Only a Perfect One
Who is always
Laughing at the word
Can make you know