Fire and Soil

by Julie on February 1, 2011 · 11 comments

Brighid's Dawn, by Sandilee Hart

Brighid's Dawn, by Sandi Lee, @WakingDreamart

Fire.

I awoke this morning with fire on my mind.

Perhaps it started, not the fire, but the thinking of fire, last night. Before I went to bed, I posted this:

Sometimes, fire burns.

And in response, a man I went to high-school with replied,

So does the sun, but it doesn’t keep us from wanting it to shine on us.”


The truth does shine…

and it burns. It burns away all that is false, all that keeps the truth from being lived, if we are willing to stand in the fire. I’m not claiming to be a fire-walker. I don’t like the burning one bit. And, I’m noticing it keeps coming, regardless.

When I see this, I see an image of a forest fire that rages through, and how that fire prepares the soil for the seeds to pop and grow. Some seeds will only germinate with the help of a forest fire. These particular seeds need the heat to begin their growth.

During my time in Santa Fe, something very old was burned out of me and something that’s always been there, always waiting in the wings, began to move with new life. It moved in because I was willing to begin to stand in the fire of the truth. I was willing to speak, aloud, stories that had been buried in my body. First, though,

a side trip to Kildare, Ireland.

Last summer, I traveled to Ireland. I wrote a few posts about it here on the blog, but some of what happened has been working inside, gestating, growing and finding root.

Some of the most profound experiences centered around St. Brigid and the goddess Brighid. To be honest, and maybe someone more aware of the historical nuances could fill me in!), I am not all that clear about the connection between the two.

A little history:

Cill means cell or church, and Daire is a type of oak tree, so Kildare means “Church of the Oak.” This is one of many ways Brigid the Saint echoes a pagan goddess of the same name, since the oak was sacred to the druids. In the pre-Christian period of Celtic history, Brighid (a derivation of the word Brig, meaning “valor” or “might”) was the name of one of the most beloved goddesses. Both solar and lunar, Brighid guaranteed the fertility of the fields, sheep, cows, and human mothers; and she protected all bodies of water. Her principal symbol was a perpetual fire, representing wisdom, poetry, healing, therapy, metallurgy, and the hearth.

St. Brigid’s double monastery at Kildare was built at a location previously sacred to her pagan namesake, and the inner sanctuary of the Kildare Church also contained a blessed fire perpetually maintained by the nuns of her community. Some have speculated that St. Brigid herself once served as the last high priestess of a community of druid women worshipping the goddess Brighid, and that she led that entire community into the Christian faith.

Site of St. Brigid's Flame, Kildare, Ireland

Site of St. Brigid's Flame, Kildare, Ireland

In Kildare, I stood in the place where Brigid’s perpetual fire burned. The story goes that, after St. Brigid’s death, the fire was kept burning for over 1,000 years by women determined to keep the flame alive (I imagine not just the flame itself, but what it represented). This realization blew me away, that women could, amidst all sorts of attempts from the outside to put out the flame, keep it alive.

With a little inquiry, we found our way to where the current flame is kept alive for St. Brigid, by sister Mary. She invited us in to the room where the flame burns today. I sat down, and within minutes a complete peace came over me. The only words I could find to express how I felt in that moment were, “Full. There is nothing I need or want.” Sister Mary echoed this, saying that almost every woman who comes to the flame feels this, or something akin.

This sense of upholding life, keeping the fire lit, helping to usher in change without losing the old wisdom is so much of what the feminine is about.

Back to Santa Fe:

In my time in Santa Fe, I was surrounded by strong, wise, spirited women: Danielle LaPorte , who is “interested in liberating truth, raw reality, and grace.”; Jennifer Louden, a woman inspiring us all to serve and savor the world; Dyana Valentine,  who is, in her words, “an instigator. Seriously, I’m not for the weak of heart.” ; Susan Oglesbee Hyatt, a Master Certified Coach who describes herself as “Energetic. Honest. Motivating”; Dr. Diane Chung, a wise, Harvard-trained clairvoyant Naturopath, who has a healing approach that is brilliant; and of course, Gail Larsen, the woman who was leading us to tell our stories straight from the soul.

In the circle of strong women, strong sisters there to gain wisdom on how to speak wisdom from the stories of our lives,  I re-experienced the strength of the feminine fire. In this fire, it was as if words flowed directly out of the ground of being. They came out raw and untouched by the overzealous mind that wants to manage and package the words in some way, for ensured acceptability. I shared stories in this circle that I have told only to a few, very close, people in my life. And in the sharing of these stories, something shifted, transmuted and transformed. We were, and are, a circle of alchemists, turning lead into gold.

As I stood in front of my sisters, waiting for the words to emerge, I could feel their love, their devotion to the truth, their willingness to hear me, wide-open to the wisdom I had to offer. As I sat in the circle, waiting for my sisters to speak, I held them and witnessed the wisdom emerging through them.

Something here, so wise and so powerful.

Even though St. Brigid’s flame was extinguished, what I imagine it represented, the light of the sacred within matter, is still alive in each woman that lives. And, it is this light that is asking to be reawakened in the world.

As a woman, as an embodiment of the Sacred Feminine, this light is alive within you. It is the fire of your sacred light. We can help each other to reawaken to this light within. And, it is this flame, this light that the world needs to remember its sacredness.

The Wisdom That Holds Us All

To underscore the wisdom that is holding us all, let me return to the fire that I opened with, the fire that burns.

As I sat at the keyboard this morning to write this post, all I could see was fire, an image of a seed, and Sandi Lee‘s image of Brighid. I planted the seed and began to write.

As I wrote, two things became clear. In finding a little history of St. Brigid, I stumbled upon this: that today, February 1st, is St. Brigid’s day in the Northern Hemisphere.

The First of February belongs to Brigid, (Brighid, Brigit, Bride,) the Celtic goddess who in later times became revered as a Christian saint. Originally, her festival on February 1 was known as Imbolc or Oimelc, two names which refer to the lactation of the ewes, the flow of milk that heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. Later, the Catholic Church replaced this festival with Candlemas Day on February 2, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features candlelight processions. The powerful figure of Brigid the Light-Bringer over-lights both pagan and Christian celebrations.

Then, as I researched Imbolc, I discovered that one symbol of this time is the candle and flame, mostly from the celebration of Candlemas.

I began with fire and truth, and a wee feeling of Brigid, and lo and behold, everything coalesced in a way that my mind could never have figured out.

Learning to trust the seed, to trust what wants to be told, said, written is a way of the feminine. She emerges through symbol, through what is ripe in the moment. She speaks to us in many ways.

As Gail teaches, we each hold original medicine, something that others receive from us as we share from the deepest places within. Danielle shared with me that she experienced my original medicine as “Dark rich moist soil, like the kind that seeds crave.”

There’s that seed, again.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela Kelsey February 1, 2011 at 11:57 am

Julie, thanks for weaving together many threads I want to follow on this St. Brigid’s Day.

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Kelly February 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

My mom always used to say that St Brigid was the seed-planter – the saint we all needed to rely on for rebirth, hope, and warmth. Love this post – it reminded me of what today is!

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Elle B February 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I grew up a little Catholic girl and took Brigid as my confirmation name. Years later, when I turned to the sacred feminine, the goddess Brighid became my special muse and patroness. She infuses my life. Gratitude for this special tribute to her.

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Filiz Telek February 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Dear Julie,
when I read your post, my heart skipped a beat for having forgotten that today is Imbolc! Last year I had an amazing experience on this day during my retreat in Greece and had my first connection with Brighid…thank you for the reminder, just on time…

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April February 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Thank you for your beautiful sharing. I find it a serendipitous contrast to my own experience of fire lately — provoked by the Goddess Kali. I often say when I am in my most intense moments of transformation that I am burning in Kali’s Fire, as if it is something outside of me. But last night in ritual I embodied that Fire and established a stronger relationship to power of the Feminine Light within. I appreciate the contrast of your experience with the gentler fire of Brigid.

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Jasmine February 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Julie,

The fire in me is so present—feeding me, warming me, and sometimes, well…it burns me. How to be with all of this? How to walk the coals and also know when to step off of them?

I love that you and your fire are out there.

Jasmine

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sandilee February 3, 2011 at 4:16 am

Thank you Julie, for deepening my Brighid experience, and I am so delighted that my Brighid’s Dawn was there for you at the right moment. It looked to me like she was going somewhere, and what a perfect place for her to travel to! :) Thank you, too for your previous post, “The Seed in Upheaval”–it weaves in with “Fire and Soil” in a deep way that I appreciate. –
And in another very synchronistic moment– this morning, as I was quickly getting ready to launch out the door & a busy day, I was still thinking of your posts, the birth of seeds, Brighid’s realm, the new moon…. I was giving a quick wipe of the sink-drain, and out came a little seed- sprout with a green heart leaf and a spiral end-root. I could not have been more surprised & delighted to see symbols that are special to me. Their very presence switched everything into waking dream mode.
Even though I knew the origin of the sprout had to be from rinsing out the cockatiel’s water dish w/a stray seed there– it was still a marvel to me of symbolism and impeccable timing. Sometimes things like this, just put me in the most wonderful alignment and help me tune in & pay attention. Sure enough, the day was full of remarkable symbols-messages, spirit nourishment, laughter, and loving connectedness with others. Much gratitude to you Julie, for your “beingness” that naturally influences in creative loving ripples.
Here’s a link to the little heart sprout that showed up today; http://wakingdream.posterous.com/waking-dream-synchronicities-natural-collabor

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Helen Dillon February 8, 2011 at 9:51 am

Beautiful. Just beautiful.
St Bride is the Scottish equivalent ot St Brighid and we link her with childbirth and smithcraft. I love her fire as the fire of the smith, that softens and tempers and helps forge new forms from the old.
This is my first visit to your site and I’m so glad that my footsteps have been guided here.

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