Starting the Adventure of the Year

Posted by Jehanne Mehta
29 January, 2014

The month of February comes from the Latin februare, which means to purify. Sometimes it is a difficult time when we need to face residues of untransformed issues left over from the passage through the dark time of the year. This aspect can be seen in the carnival tradition of some countries, when the demons we need to overcome are boldly represented. The beginning of the month is also Candlemas, the Celtic fire festival of Imbolc and the day of the goddess Brigid or Bride. It marks the return of the sun, the start of the adventure of the year, after the Solstice, Midwinter, Christmas turning. The first stirrings of germination in the Earth begin. The farming year traditionally starts here.

Earth candles

My husband and I often mark this time with earth candles, making small hollows in the soil (or even the snow!), suspending into these a string wick from a little stick and filling up with melted wax, then cutting free the wick, removing the stick and lighting the candles at dusk. Sometimes they will burn all night long and the tiny flames shining in the dark soil are beautiful to behold and are a special gift and encouragement to the Earth and the nature spirits, at this time of first sprouting and shoot growth. Maybe the early snowdrops are pointing their delicate spears towards the sky, before the pure white drops of the blossoms turn down and open wide their green trimmed petals. White is the colour of purity and so a new bride wears a gown of virgin white. In the Celtic Goddess tradition Imbolc marks the transformation of the winter crone into a maiden once more.

The two magicians

In English traditional songs there are many versions of ‘The Two Magicians’. Here the man and the woman are both endowed with other worldly gifts and the young woman shape shifts repeatedly to escape the advances of her would be lover. Generally the latter’s magic outwits the woman and he has his way with her. In the song I have chosen for this month it is the other way about. She represents the pure maiden goddess, the true bride, and at every turn she escapes her pursuer, until he recognizes that only by serving her can he become worthy to be her lover and spouse. The forms she takes are all magical beasts of symbolic significance: the white hare, the white doe and the swan.

Our cosmic bride self

At the beginning of this new year in the midst of all the crises and challenges of the world and the unsettled, changing climate, where we can’t have a great deal of certainty about the future, perhaps we might recognize that, on some deep level, this bridal purity exists within us and is powerful beyond what our everyday selves can imagine. If we dedicate ourselves to this profoundly feminine bride self, who is connected with the stars and the cosmos, we may bring through and give birth to the new and hitherto unknown capacities and solutions that are so needed at this time.

© 2013 by Jehanne Mehta.

The Bride Song

The first time I saw my love
She did skim across the plain
And the swiftest hounds that ever ran
Could ne’er bring her again.
No hare was seen as white as she
That leaped the borders o’er;
As fleet as clouds before the gale
So swift she ran before.
And still my love I long for thee
And still I bid thee bide.
The meadows green I’ll mow for thee
If thou wilt be my bride.

The next time I saw my love
She did in the thicket stand
And white as the new hung moon she shone
With the hounds on eve
ry hand;
No doe so nimble neat as she
Did graze the dappled shade;
I pursed my lips the horn to blow,
But she bounded forth and fled.
And still my love I search for thee
And still I bid thee bide.
The sweetest leaves I’ll cull for thee
If thou wilt be my bride.

The next time I saw my love
‘T was on the bleak sea st
With curving neck and drooping wing
She lay at my command;
Her feathers white as the gleam of dawn…
A queen she was of swans;
But fast as ever my net could fly,
On strong wings she was gone.
And still my love I work for thee
And still I bid thee bide.
My heart’s blood I will shed for thee
If thou wilt be my bride.

The next time I saw my love
‘T was beneath the
rowan tree.
A-clothèd all in white she was
So bright I scarce could see…
A maiden fair as the white dawn star
That shone on her forehead high.
With footfall light she came and she
Was blue mantled with the sky.
And what is there left to say my love
And shall I bid thee bide?
What must I do that I may be
Chosen of thee, my bride?
What must I do that I may be
Chosen of thee, my bride?

Song lyric © Jehanne Mehta 1982

by Jehanne Mehta

Delight your senses and nourish your soul with this gorgeous book of poetry inspired by the spirit of the Yew. Anyone who stands quietly beneath a Yew Tree and allows their mind to absorb the atmosphere it emanates will immediately sense a deep mystery, and a vast store of ancient wisdom. Jehanne Mehta has spent years discovering and absorbing the essence of the Yew Tree, and in Heart of Yew her ponderings come to full flower.Click here to buy.

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