Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Keeper of the Hearth

Brighid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.

Mothers of our mother,
Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how
To kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright,
To preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours,
Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light,
Both day and night.

The Mantle of Brighid about us,
The Memory of Brighid within us,
The Protection of Brighid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark,
From dark till dawn.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Walking the labyrinth

Last Saturday dawned bright and clear in the gentle late January light. Now is a time to look forward expectantly to the beautiful festival of Imbolc, sacred to the Goddess Brighid. High on the Howardian Hills to the north of York there lies a turf labyrinth cut in the traditional seven circuit Caerdroia pattern. I love to go there and walk the labyrinth as a journey with the Goddess, a little act of love. The journey to this remote spot was truly evocative of Imbolc. Snowdrops in full bloom dotted the verges. They look so tiny and vulnerable but they possess such spiritual strength. The first willow katkins were bursting from the branches and the light was truly beautiful. Blessed be the Goddess for the sheer beauty of this season. May we all be touched by Brighid as we welcome Her to our hearth and home.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Let the Goddess bring change

Thanks to Grian at Panthea for this post which is full of common sense. PANTHEA: journeys with the goddess We men do very much need to find freedom from patriarchal institutions too. Patriarchy has been a bad deal for men as well as women. How many men have been drafted into the army, forced into slavery, schooled to hide their emotions, crushed by competitive work ethics or just plain forced into moulds they cannot fit by patriarchal institutions?

Working with and listening to women has been an utter revelation. The discovery of Goddess Religion life changing. The Goddesses are for everyone, women and men alike. I know that a man in a woman's group can change the dynamic and that sometimes it is absolutely right for women to meet alone. But Goddess Temples really do need to be open to all most of the time. I love the Goddess Temple at Glastonbury and thank the Goddesses for the warm welcome given to everyone. We sing, "She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes." Let the Goddess bring change to our world.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bigotry touches Orkney composer

I love the beauty and the magic of Orkney. I love the music of Peter Maxwell Davies who is resident on the Isle of Sanday and founded the St. Magnus Festival in 1977. His music encapsulates the spirit of the islands. One of my favourite pieces is "The Beltane Fire" a wonderfully evocative description of the struggle to celebrate Beltane in the face of opposition from the Kirk.

It seems that Peter Maxwell Davies is now receiving some opposition from the Kirk to his personal life which saddens me deeply. The following is taken from today's Independent newspaper:

Homophobic' Orkney under attack for ban on civil partnership
By Andrew Johnson
Published: 08 January 2007

Gay rights campaigners have called for a tourist boycott of Orkney after one of the world's leading composers was banned from forming a civil partnership with his lover on the remote island of Sanday.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who is master of the Queen's Music, and Colin Parkinson, 52, planned to hold their ceremony next month on Sanday, where they have lived for the past nine years.

Sir Peter, 72, had even composed a piece of music for the event, which was to be attended by stars from the classical and pop music worlds.

But their plans were put on hold after officials at Orkney Islands Council unexpectedly said the registrar, a friend of the couple, was not authorised to preside over the civil partnership. Instead, they would have to travel to Kirkwall on Orkney mainland for the ceremony.

Matters became further confused yesterday when it was reported that Orkney officials had also cited fears of a media circus and "unsuitable music" on Sanday as reasons to move the ceremony.

A furious Sir Peter condemned the ban as "downright discrimination" and pointed the finger at "religious fundamentalists".

He said: "Everybody can get married where they live except me, it seems. Ever since the law on civil partnerships was brought in, we thought that finally there was an opportunity to get married and to have a little celebration.

"Fundamental religious people, who delve into the Bible to justify their hatreds, still hold great sway. That kind of malignant influence is wrong. Most of the people here are fine and open, those who disapprove are in a minority."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

First Snowdrop

Sunday morning and a walk through the village. I love the churchyard. It stands at the junction of three roads and faces ancient earthworks. It is blessed with yew and rowan trees and is quiet and peaceful. January has been warm and wet so far and the snowdrops are pushing through the damp soil, growing fast. Today just two were in flower in a very sheltered spot - a sure sign that Bridie is about and that Imbolc (Fhéill Bhride) will soon be upon us.

Bridie is a Goddess who presides over the hearth and home, over inspiration and the skills of sacred art and craft, and over the world of crops, livestock, and nature. In particular she is important to sheep who begin to lamb in Yorkshire at this time of year.