Imbolc Blessings from Ireland
January 30, 2012I am writing this newsletter from the heart of Kildare town just west of Dublin, where I am thrilled to be participating in the annual Lá Feile Brighe, the Brigit festival held at her ancient sacred sites and organized by the Brigidine Sisters. Tomorrow we will gather at Brigit's well for a nighttime ritual, then the next morning return to gather water that has been blessed by the rising sun and to cut portions of the Bhrat Brighe, the "Brigit mantle" that is used as a healing cloth throughout the year. Later Wednesday there will be instructions in crafting Brigit crosses, walks on the Curragh (the great plain that is said to have been her land), and finally a ceili or musical evening. Events continue through the week, but we'll have to return home on Thursday, filled I hope with Brigit spirit. Someday you must all come to Ireland for Brigit's day! http://www.solasbhride.ie/
After an absence of a bit over a year, I have found Ireland to be quite transformed. The Celtic Tiger is now well and fully gone, but prices have not really changed much, so ordinary people are struggling. We see "to let" signs everywhere, where small businesses have disappeared due to the fiscal collapse. Ireland is struggling to find its soul again after ten years of economic inflation and attendant greed. Such events as the Brigit festival are testament to Ireland's deep spiritual heritage, which remains despite hard times.
Our time here was preceded by a trip to east Clare for research on the cannibal hag Echgte, whose name was given to the hills near Gort where I used to live. Five days of research and wandering the back roads to become familiar with Her Land was an amazing and transformative experience. I will be writing an article on the goddess for several venues; stay tuned for when it appears!
One of the serendipitous highlights of that part of the trip was happening upon the Irish Seed Savers near Scariff, where we learned about native Irish apples, of which about 30 are known. Due to the high moisture content of the air, these apples grow aerial roots, so that you can cut off a swarm of rootlets and plant it, where it will bear that year as the area beyond the roots had developed fruit spurs (the part that blooms and carries the fruit). I found this a lovely metaphor for the renewal that nature offers. As spring is arriving in Ireland--and Imbolc IS spring here--I hope for similar renewal for you all.
SCOTLAND: GODDESS THE PLAY!
On this trip I also had the wonderful occasion to lecture on Scottish sun goddesses at the University of Edinburgh. While there, I was thrilled to meet with the women of Strange Theatre, which is producing a new play called "Goddess" about the return of the ancient goddess in modern women. You can read about it here: htttp://goddesstheplay.wordpress.com. And if you are moved to contribute, here's how to do it: http://www.sponsume.com/project/goddess-2012-international-womens-day-production-and-event
ONE LAST WORD ON IRELAND
A bit of arm-twisting was all that was necessary to get me to agree to reprise our tour of Ireland this fall. I love many areas of Ireland, but the wild west of Connemara is one of the most beautiful, scenic, and culturally significant parts of the land. We'll take a small group of interested people with us to Connemara and nearby sites this fall. If you're interested, read up on the tour here: http://beiireland.wordpress.com/.
NOVEL COMES OUT AND IS OFFICIALLY DECLARED FUNNY!
My first novel, the satirical "Alaska By Heart: Recipes for Independence by Sarah Pagen" will be officially out on Presidents' Day, but reviews are already coming in and I'm pleased to say that reviewers are laughing parts of their anatomies off (let's say heads: laughing their heads off). Although there is a serious intent in the book, which talks about some of the crazier parts of American religion and politics today (and their scary intersection), I wanted people to laugh when they read about this odd cooking show hostess and Extremovore ("If you didn't kill it, don't eat it") and mother of six Gospel singers (see their great hits like "Locked and Loaded for the Lord" and "Mama Don't Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Pagans"). The book is available now direct from the publisher (http://www.alaskafiction.com/) and shortly from other online sources. I'll also be doing readings from the book at several Wisconsin bookstores; see the calendar section of my website for details.
Here are a few of the early reviews:
"Sarah" will shortly be on Facebook and blogging. Watch for her! (Or should I say, watch out for her!)
NEW YORK IN MARCH
In celebration of that day of the Irish, I'll be going East for several appearances. At at SoulJourney in New Jersey on March 14, I'll be doing a program on Celtic Spirituality. And Molloy College on Long Island on March 15, I'll be discussing the Brigit Revival in Ireland. If you're in the area or have friends there, do come!
ASWM IN CALIFORNIA IN MAY
Much of my volunteer time is being spent this season on helping prepare the program for the biennial conference of the Association for Study of Women and Mythology, which will be held in San Francisco May 11-12. The program looks to be amazing, with Charlene Spretnak receiving the Demeter Award, a series of amazing special speakers, arts events and a book fair. For anyone interested in the goddess today, this is the event of the year. Check it out at www.womenandmyth.org.
The revised "Magical Gardens" is coming out in spring; I'll have exact details by next newsletter. I'm working on several anthology projects including a collection of pieces about Brigit, which will be published at this time next year, and another goddess anthology with no publication date yet set. Hoping for news too on the paperback edition of "Goddesses and Heroines." I'll keep you all posted! And meanwhile, happy Imbolc to all.