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.)

My offering:

LAUGHING AT THE WORD TWO

Only

That Illumined
One

Who keeps
Seducing the formless into form

Had the charm to win my
Heart.

Only a Perfect One

Who is always
Laughing at the word
Two

Can make you know

Of

Love.

--Hafiz


23 comments:

ellen abbott said...

We were talking about that very thing on sunday, how the slowly lengthening days have suddenly become so apparent.

The last few nights of January, it was overcast all day clearing just in time to give us some very beautiful sunsets.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

happy feb 2 - for all it is!!

great pledge, haven't you already been saying what you mean and mean what you say!?

wonderful offering to this year's poetry slam

Reya Mellicker said...

I want to think before I speak, so I REALLY say what I mean to say, but yeah, thanks, Kim.

SEE YOU THURSDAY!!

lakeviewer said...

Ok. I was having a great time until the last picture showed up. It blew me away! Too cute for words.

Carry on peaking at the sunshine.

The Bug said...

Ah - forgot about the poetry slam! I'll post something tonight when I get home...

John Hayes said...

Hi Reya: Thanks for the kind words & the delightful info about St Brigid's--none of which I knew. I guess my friend B.N.'s poem over at RFBanjo today is a bit more about darkness than light!

Ronda Laveen said...

Thanks for getting this Slam started. I do so look forwrd to it as the perfect offering for this time of year. As is your poem. It was lovely and comforting to read about your SF rituals. I could feel the energy of the clockwise and counter-clockwise meditators.

Gotta go buy some chocolate to bribe the groundhog now!

Blessings in the coming light and blessings to that which we leave behind.

And, I do so witness your pledge.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ronda you are the BEST. thank you for formally witnessing. Yeah!!

Isn't the P & C Market sign the cutest? Looks kind of like a little squirrel, but then groundhogs are kind of big squirrels, aren't they?

Tom said...

Groundhogs like chocolate?!?! Nobody told me--now we've got 6 more weeks of winter over here!

...and i posted a February poem yesterday, I hope that counts(i have the bad habit of always being early)

willow said...

You're so nice. Thanks for the mention. You know, I should have reposted my St. Bridgid's poem today. Oh well. I'll have to mark it down for next year.

Love the chocolate sign!

Reya Mellicker said...

Tom, it counts!

Meri said...

I posted a Rumi piece today in honor of the poetry slam, but really should have written something for Brigid. However, I couldn't figure out how to post the link on Delicious.

steven said...

man reya i laughed my thermal undies off when i saw the picture at the bottom. how'd ya get that!!! sometimes i think before i speak and then i don't say what i'm thinking. sometimes i don't think before i speak and then i say what i'm thinking. ya know what i mean?!!! sweet hafiz words . . . that boy knew all about everything. steven

Bee said...

Bribe a groundhog with chocolate! I love that!!

I've never heard of the Feast of Bridgid, but I'm all for the concept. I am going to think hard on what I want to leave behind.

My heart really does lighten with the return of the sun. Even though it was gray and rainy all day, I can see some green shoots coming up -- and I can feel the change.

Reya Mellicker said...

Bug, you are one of the regular contributors of poetry to the bloghood. Bravo!!

Glad to give you a giggle, Steven. The nice people at P & C Market, at the foot of the park I live next to, use their blackboard very creatively.

Lynne said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post Reya. BRAVO!
I didn't know about the Feast of Bridgid and the ritual sounds very cool. Very in sync. I love seasonal rituals!

I am really bad at poetry but certainly appreciate others who have a gift.

I guess Phil saw his shadow today although if Phil lived here he surely would not have seen it! Groundhogs, get it together!

This was one of my favorite posts of the year so far! Sister, you have a gift. A true gift of words.

Mrsupole said...

Thanks for the reminder, I just posted my poem and I wrote it myself, very scarey that I do that, but what can I say. I think I need to go buy myself a piece of chocolate right now. Maybe I will share it with the groundhog or out here it would have to be a squirrel, but then again the only critter I see is my possum. I guess he will have to do.

God bless.

Mary Ellen said...

I posted something for the Brighid's poetry slam - dug up an ancient (and since then not reread) reflection on a dream. No pledges, though - I'll have to think on that. Thanks for starting this, years ago!

deborah oak said...

beautiful, just beautiful.

Reya Mellicker said...

Mrsupole you make me laugh. I'll have time this morning to get around and read more poetry. If this year is anything like years past, I will be reading poetry for several weeks. A feast of poetry, oh yeah!

Barry said...

I love that sign!

And I love the ritual you describe. I could hear that anvil clanging.

I left a poem on Facebook in honor of St. (or goddess) Bridgid. But not being a poet, I left one of my wife's.

I think that would please the goddess more.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Interesting--the last three days I've been thinking of things I want to change, or do differently, and I was wondering why I couldn't have come up with them for New Years' resolutions.

Guess I'm more in tune with St. Brigid than with the Roman calender!

Thanks for the insight, as usual!

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Very shadowy photo, perfect. Love learning about celebrations and how peoples welcome in the seasons and change. My therapy is making me feel like a bud unfolding, an adventure and a chance to learn about myself...celebrate healing!