sONgLineS DowserS
Shadows: Lamenting Rivers and the Daughters of Fire
Imbolc marks the mid-point between winter solstice and spring equinox, the beginning of Spring as the transition between seasons that are not yet visible but promised — when the seeds underground awake from their winter dormancy and began to slowly sprout and stretch and rise to the light forthcoming. Imbolc or Imbolg, coming from Oimelc, old Irish for ‘in the belly’ or ‘ewe’s milk’, refers to the season when ewes are pregnant and nursing, as it marks the fluid onset of agricultural spring from the start of lambing season, the beginning of sowing and the blooming of blackthorn. On Imbolc, it is said, Brighid will visit every home.

On that early night of February shall all the hearths be put out, let the last glow cool to ashes, still snow and cold, but Winter is slowly departing. Light is coming, the night is shorter. For the old Cailleach, lady of the mantle, grandmother of the cold winds, storms and snow, will soon lay near the Holy tree, get her old body turned to stone. Or perhaps, some say, riding her winged wolfe or even transmuting herself into a crane, Cailleach will now travel through the mists of Avalon and eat from the eternal youth tree, so the hag may have her youth restored and returned to be Brighid — the maiden Bride, the foster mother, the ‘exalted one’.

“Brighid is coming, Brighid is here!”, released by Cailleach from her winter prison, she arrives with the first snowdrops flowers and her companion white cow. On her return from the underworld, the life-giver walks barefoot, leaving behind a green trace through the land, the first blossoming flowers and the ever-flowing milk that promises warmth, fertility and abundance.

On her arrival, bonfires are lit at the crossroads and on every yard, guiding her, honoring her. As her is the sacred flame of Kildare, the perpetual fire tended by 19 priestesses — the virgins daughters of the Fire, she is the keeper of the forge and the keeper of the hearth. Her Kildare fire held by the same time it takes for a new moon to coincide again with the winter solstice, a nineteen-year cycle. It is said that, on the twentieth day of each cycle is Brighid herself who tends the fire. On her arrival and from her sacred flame, new fires are now lit in every house and the hearth kept burning for another year round.

So, let us lit this ancient fire again. The one that protects our household, feeds our bodies and gives breath to our hearts. For she holds the poetry of life, the magic wand of wisdom, the music sang by the wind since way before the bells of any church rang. Brighid, the divining priestess of oracles, who whispers in the reed as in the hearts of people, keeper of creative inspiration, guardian of prophecies and dreams, custodian of the future.

Let our senses awaken to the land, listen the wind, follow the waters, seize the soil. Recall the ancient memories of those smells, tastes, sounds and dreams that awaken and spark life through the land, so within as without, in each one of our bodies. Brighid, the patroness of plants, medicine, healing and magic. Brighid, released from the melting snow of Cailleach departure, the patroness of the groundwaters, the sacred wells that flow through yet unseen and renew life.

But, may us weep for what is gone, for the eternal cycle of life and death will keep spinning and new beginnings will be foretell by our dreams. Brighid is the greek goddess Demeter, who mourned Persephone being taken to the underworld. Like her, Brighid mourned her son killed in battle, wailing the first ever lament heard on earth. She is the keeper of the threshold, of all the limiar spaces, assisting the transitions between worlds, as the waken and dream realms, as the upper and lower worlds, spinning the wheel of fortune, assisting the needed transmutations and rebirths — when time comes, when the cycles are ripe. For she is the goddess of dawn and the goddess of woman, bearer of mysteries, skilled in magic, threader of waters and blood. She is the midwife of all mothers, the foster mother of all childs and the gentle hand that assists renewal, transitions and rebirths.

bearer of the art of braiding, Brigid is also Bride and Braido, the one who taught women to spin, weave and plait. Like the Norns, she threads the lives of humans, binding them together, intertwining hopes and prayers for the good and healing of all our relationships. For we share a common destiny with humans and non-humans alike, she recall we are all fruits of the same one tree, so connected in the underground rhizome of our shadows as in the upper branches of our gifts. Our lives linked by the same one breath — the thread of all our relationships.
The horned goddess of wild mysteries, who rambles through the land awakening underground the breath of life from the winter still. The triple goddess who rules the fires that inspire poetry and music; the fires that foster healing and fertility; the fires that forge the hearth and the smith. May she spin our common destinies, weaving in the sacred waters of creation and the sacred flames of will. Through the waters, bringing to life seeds, flowers and fruits, releasing the buried emotions of grief and mourning, opening pathways in the heart for healing. Through the fire, forging the abundance of inspiration, softening the hardships and tending the fertility of our dwellings, crafting the magic wands of life renewal.
May she guide our steps through this land, heal the broken threads of our more-than-human relationships, open the gates of the threshold to unveil the magic medicine of creation. May she wander the paths of our pilgrimage, unfold the forgotten ways to be one with the land and the seasons, assist knowing the cycles of life and death through fertility, renewal and transmutation. May she direct our pace through the songs sang by the wind, the flowing waters of all the springs, the fertile soils of our dwellings, the creative fires of our dreams.
For Brighid, the maiden Bride, is born from the old crone, Cailleach, who will grow to become Dana, she is the guardian of wisdoms, skilled in all matters of magic, the earth-mother life-giving force of nature and all its everlasting renewal cycles.

Joana F. Viana Canelas has a PhD in social ecology and biocultural diversity. She investigates people’s relationships to nature, forests and trees, working with indigenous people’s knowledge, their storied landscapes and traditional resource management practices. Since 2009 she collaborates with diverse agroecology and agroforestry projects both in Portugal and the United Kingdom, working since 2013 as a researcher in biodiversity impacts and the social, cultural and political dimensions of people relationships with the more-than-human nature.

Radiant flame of gold, noble mother of Ruadan,
Brighid, the daughter of an Daghda the Good God,
Son of Aodh, son of Art, son of Conn,
Son of Crearer, Son of Cis, son of Carmac, son of Carruin,
Brighid, daughter of Boanne, shining white,
Every day and every night
That I say the genealogy of Brighid,
I shall not be killed, I shall not be harried,
I shall not be jailed , I shall not be wounded,
Nor shall my Gods leave me.
No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown mc,
No arrow of fairy nor dart of fay shall wound me,
I am under the protection of the Gods of life,
And my gentle foster-mother is my beloved Bride.
(Modified from Carmina Gadelica, A. Carmichael, 1900)

In Praise of Brighid

Joana F. Viana Canelas
Shadows: Lamenting Rivers and the Daughters of Fire
Blue Maiden from my Dreams of the Sea "10x8" oil on canvas - Berlin 2019
Daisy Rickman
New Moon & Venus "10x8" oil on board - Berlin 2020
Daisy Rickman
'Sowing the Seeds with the Fruits of Fertility' - Cornwall 2018
Daisy Rickman
'Sowing the Seeds with the Fruits of Fertility' - Cornwall 2018
Daisy Rickman
"In tune with the falling leaves of Autumn comes a reflection upon the cyclical changes within both the seasons and our bodies in relation to the land and shifts within the presence of these cycles. Painted with the light of the sun through the eye of my camera, these photographs pay homage to her luminescence as we see the journey of this presence fade amidst the celebrations of harvest and day falling into night. It is this duality between light and dark that draws my eyes to the spectrum of vision in which I choose to seek, and it is in turn the infinite mystery held within this light that inspires me to capture what it is I have been captured by. In circling dreams and visions of constant motion, I seek no more than to capture a dance of the inner light’s eye." Daisy Rickman

Daisy Rickman is a selt-taught multi-disciplinary Artist from Mousehole, Cornwall (UK). Realising the education system was not for her, she chose to follow a path which over the past 7 years has led to working as a freelancer internationally in the Visual Arts, Film, Photographic and Music Circles.
“The power of our hands as human beings extends infinitely through the possibilities of expression. Each is unique and this fascinates me. I am interested in this subconscious space between dreams and abstract perceptions of our existence. That hypnagogic realm of honest flow, where one can let go of the mind and focus further on that golden haven within the joy of creation. Being a musician, my paintings and this process are deeply influenced by music. For me, different realms of self-expression are not separate from one another. Each practice provokes and encourages the other, simultaneously bringing the visions of my mind through hand and body into reality. A force which exists beyond the realm of rationality, channelling from the same source of visual cosmology."



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