I am a bard. I remind myself of this as I sit and wish for words to come. The topic is Imbolc, and the deadline is soon. I have been feeding the fires of my inspiration with symbolism and correspondences, lore and legends… waiting for the birth of my own synthesis. I have been waiting for quite awhile.
I have named my challenge in this writing assignment; I know where the block is coming from. I am writing about Imbolc, but I am living in a personal Samhain. There is much ending and dying in my life right now, my marriage, my home, some friendships and some finances… there is much room for darkness and fear. Yet Imbolc is a time of new beginnings and of faith restored. A seeming polarity attends this block, how to write of faith when feeling fear. Yet I know both the Universe and myself rarely offer only two options. It has been my experience that when feeling trapped in polarity, it is helpful to combine the two poles into a third. Combine the endings and the beginnings into a place of both – which is where I sit today at my computer.
On the wheel of the year Imbolc is a place to be visited not only on February 2nd, but anytime the vibration of hope is needed. Can I take my Samhain self to my Sacred Grove and there bathe in the waters of Imbolc?
I break from the computer and enter my small temple… light some incense and make peace with my grove. Settled into my usual nook, I am overcome with both the deep comfort of the woods, and the deep sorrow of my soul. I am home, and I am sad. Like a child I run home when I am hurting, and the woods minister to my wounds. My back up against the huge Oak of the North, I pour out my story… my divorce, my fear, my excitement, my insecurities, my writers block and my embarrassment that my faith is not stronger. I ask for the Grove to lend me its knowing of Imbolc, that I may not only connect with renewal but may write of it as well.
The Grove is still. I am lulled by the wind in the trees, the sun on my face, the grounding of the Oak behind me. A rustle in the Western quarter calls my attention to the small pond there. A beautiful woman steps through the trees. She is sky-clad, the breeze blowing her long hair around her. She holds in her arms a swaddled babe and in her hand she carries a water pitcher. She moves towards the pond and settles herself on a large sun bathed rock. She offers a full ripe breast to the infant, who nurses with sounds of satisfaction. The woman closes her eyes and lifts her face to the sun, a half smile on her lips. She sings in a voice both gentle and strong:
“Come unto me my little Yule child, suckle my breasts full of love… come unto me in springtime so mild, suckle my breasts full of love”
She sings this way until the babe has finished eating, and then she rocks back and forth until the child is asleep. She finds a sun-warmed spot among the roots of a tree, and nestles the sleeping infant there, returning to the pond. She steps one foot into the pond and bends to fill her pitcher. Turning back she offers some of the water to the earth. Then bending, she pours the rest over her own hair. Her hair is so long… it floats on the ripples she makes… she gathers the length of it and dunks completely under, swirling her head back and forth and emerging laughing. Stepping from the water she wrings her hair out and faces East. With a whispered word the winds pick up, and she combs her long tresses with her fingers as the wind lifts and dries them. She checks for a moment on the sleeping child, then lays on the rock, clean beautiful tresses behind her, milk filled breasts skyward. She hums the song to herself again, and I am suddenly very very tired. I find myself wishing to be young again, wishing to be nursed by my all loving Mother, wishing to be warm and fed and sleeping in the sun. I feel my back slip down the trunk of the Oak, am vaguely aware of laying down in the soft dirt. I hum the song of the Mother and rock back and forth. I remind myself that this Grove is now my Mother, and that I am free to nurse here anytime. I remind myself that I am warm and fed and almost asleep in the sun… and that all I have to do is remember to show up. Just remember. Sleep overtakes me, and I wake to find myself in my Temple, curled up in the smallest ball, a half smile on my face.
Back down to the computer. It frequently seems sacrilege to confine the experiences of the Inner Planes to the page, so much is lost… and yet I suspect I have brought back some kind of useful information to share with my companions on the path. Something about milk… sheep maybe….
First off I notice that I am no longer afraid, or sad. How did that happen? I sat next to my favorite tree, which is always good. Is the message simply to remember nature? What about the milk memory? Were there some sheep there… is the message that milk will be provided when necessary? Why does it seem that one little lamb was taking first wobbly steps… was there a wobbly lamb in the grove? Is the message that one must wobble before walking? I am visited with advertising campaigns of past and present… “We Bards wobble but we don’t fall down” and “Got milk?” I groan and keep typing.
Washing some thing… did I wash my feet maybe… is the message to remember that cleansing is a necessary step towards renewal? I seem to remember feeling beautiful, did I do a naked dance perhaps, with my Grove Guides? I do so love to dance naked, it would explain why I am no longer sad or afraid.
Hmmm. So tie it all together now. The living in Samhain and writing about Imbolc. The divorce, the endings, the beginnings, the milk and the wobbling and the dance.
I am reminded of a birthday party that I attended last week, at a restaurant. There was a small boy, just toddling, who had wandered a few feet away from his Mother. He was thrilled with his freedom, but frequently looked back to make sure she was there. I was sitting with a group of psychologists, and we commented on how perfectly he was expressing both the need to separate and the anxiety of separating. His mother must have read a few books herself, for she allowed him his adventure, and smiled at him whenever he looked back for reassurance.
So it is for me at Imbolc… and I have often said that what is true for me it is likely true for others, for I am not so different from my companions… We are once again toddling and wobbling in the New Year, all within us is yet potential to be actualized. We are scared and excited. We know we must proceed, around the wheel of the year, yet we wouldn’t mind just one more breast full of milk before we get on with it. If we remember to look back we will see our Mother smiling her encouragement. If we forget, we will feel lonely and scared, but nonetheless we will be fine, for She has fortified us for our journey. We need only remember. Just remember.
Betz King is a bard, psychotherapist, Priestess of the Western Mysteries and humanistic journalist. She wobbles but doesn’t fall down in Royal Oak Michigan.