It didn’t immediately dawn on me: the irony of having to cancel a St. Brigid Ceremony because I was sick. But who else could hold space for me, as I had planned to do for my friends, but the Celtic Goddess of Healing? Once fully writhing in my fever dreams and terminal feelings of why-bother, through hours of bleary gazing at Aiden Turner of the Poldark series, after shutting down and shutting out, and finally, of being scrubbed clean and re-introduced to myself, the glow and mantle of Brigid is the natural and ultimate gift—an end in a beginning.
Being a big fan of the Darker half of Brigid—the Cailleach Beara—I cherish my cave time, the silent nights, the extra dose of honey in my tea, hands wrapped around a good book. But, as anyone living in Maine might, I also welcome the Goddess’s re-birth as the Spring maiden fair. At Samhain, my friends and I celebrated the cross-quarter with a night dedicated to learning about the ways of the Cailleach, or Hag of Winter, as she is sometimes called. It was even alluded to in one of our texts that it was she, not a woodchuck, who ventured out her door to gather more fire wood. If she didn’t go seeking more wood, no more winter! Being the Dark Mistress of storms and landscapes, who would question her authority?
Brigid, then, is her airy, hopeful Other who is ushered in when the ewes begin to show their fat bellies full of babies (and teats full of milk). Imbolc, or Imbolg, or Oimelc, all loosely translates as “Ewe’s milk.” Brigid is Cailleach Beara’s re-imagined, renewed Self—and they both fall under the ancient Mother-Maiden-Crone Triple Goddess of the Celts (and further back-)
Jan 30th: Night before the Full, Super, Blue, Blood Moon. I decide to cancel the Cross-Quarter celebration, which was slated for Thursday Feb 1st, and let my co-leader know she is welcomed to hold circle without me. I was zonked with chills and aches at 6:47. Little coherence about a full moon, or anything else. I was teething like an indolent child on the names of those I “may” have caught the flu from
Jan 31st: Another day in bed, another Poldark bonanza, another tepid bowl of chicken soup. More Nyquil, more batty dreams. The distraction of Facebook can’t even quell this unrest. Husband brings me juice and flowers, which I hardly notice since I am still feverish
Feb 1st: The feeling of being pummeled by any number of pro wrestlers lingers. I devilishly enjoy thinking about the weight I am loosing due to not eating much. A friend stops by with the goods from Whole Foods and I swill the elderberry syrup like it’s my granddaddy’s moonshine. I take the Flu Ease homeopathy remedy she prescribes…and sleep some more
Feb 2nd: I wake up at 7 am and actually remember that I like coffee. Not only that, but I want some and damn anyone who’ll stand in my way! I have some and it disappoints as I realize my taste buds are still dysregulated. But I pull out my journal, and I write. Now I know I’m going to make it
Later that day, I take a bath to commemorate the Feast of St Brigid. I’m not even Catholic but for some strange reason, I like calling her “St. Brigid,” as opposed to simply Brigid. I decide that, feeling much more aligned with Pagan rituals than Catholic ones, I will sanctify the bath water with a healthy dose of Maine sea salt. I dunked and bathed and toned. I called on Brigid to bless the water and asked her to leach the rest of the dis-ease out of me. The clearing, the cleansing, the scrubbing all done by her.
I could barely move I was so relaxed. But as the water cooled, I brought myself to standing and hosed off one last time. As the drain gurgled, I said a thank you to the holy water and salt—and to Brigid for guiding me to enact this ritual. I lathered my skin in—what else—lavender lotion and burned white sage around body and sick room.
And I thought I was going to miss her celebration! But if you have a pure desire to heal, Brigid—in all of her manifestations—will find you. She responds simply by being asked but the asking must come from the most vulnerable part of you. Like when you’re sick and you can’t do anything but wince and twitch and moan. If you have the voice for it, you may say, ‘Someone, please help me.’
Sometimes we are gifted with the Noble Flu or [fill in your disease of choice here]. It is a phenomena known as the Cure is in the Disease, and I felt it most acutely when, nine years ago, I was told a biopsy was cancerous, and that I would need a full hysterectomy. To truly heal, we have to be brought to our knees. To be reborn with the Spring Tide, one must be willing to be broken down, painfully scrubbed. It is a great gift to give yourself over to the power of vulnerability and it’s as simple as saying, “I’m done fighting” or “I don’t know what the next step is.” Brigid’s ears perk up when she hears those words. I feel lucky I had the flu as my excuse! To wallow in sweat-soaked sheets of pure abandon. To call for help and trust that help would come, through husband, friends and St. Brigid.
Happy Imbolc! Be open to being scrubbed.