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Brigid’s Day and the Art of Longing: An Imbolc Meditation

Written by Tara Coumoundouros

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Posted on February 02 2021

The Irish heart is built of the poetry of longing and loving.  There is an ache for life that we carry within us that is both painful and beautiful.  It makes us love fiercely and fight passionately.  A type of Irish sing song, which is called keening, a wailing tune that sings of our deepest aches for that which no longer is, deeply expresses the energy of this.  We also sing raucous ballads of our greatest joys, living and singing of our lives somewhere in between these paradoxical tensions of longing and love.  Is it the diaspora that caused such deep feelings or is it simply the depth of the Celtic spirit?  The Welsh, another Celtic Nation have a word that tries to capture the energy of the longing that we carry deep in our DNA.  That word is HIREATH, a beautiful example of this feeling that is almost undefinable. I believe this word is older than any known diaspora or have diasporas always been a part of the human existence? As a displaced Irish-American I can say that my soul undoubtedly carries within it a strong sense of HIREATH, like a longing for a home that no longer is or never will be. 

                While it is exquisite and painful, what can it teach me?  That which we mourn for or long for is that which we love most is it not?  We love the Earth.  That is a large part of the word HIREATH, the loss of our connection to the sacred ground upon which we live.  In the book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller, he uses the term Earthgrief, or the communal sadness for the sorrows of humanity and the slowly destroyed state of the Earth.  There is also a tinge of the loss of place woven in there for those who have suffered the loss through diaspora, forced relocations or removal.  While it is not solely an Irish wound, I believe it is truly a human wound, and especially an American wound that we suffer.  Do other cultures have words to describe the feeling of longing?  I long with the energy of HIREATH for the homeland or a sense of home/belonging.  What does that teach me?  I love my home.  I need a sense of belonging.  I need the Earth to embrace me with a sense of solidarity. I need my family to love me as deeply as I love them.  I need to feel wrapped in the warm embrace of home, place and belonging. 

                What else do I long for?  I long for so many things.  Why do I want to long for anything when it is painful?  If I spend enough time in this place and space it is like a honing beacon that draws me with its glimmers ever closer to that which makes my soul tick.  When I begin to understand what it is that I long for I begin to understand what it is that makes my life worth living.  The other edge of the paradox of longing is letting go.  What do I mean by letting go?  Do I mean letting go of your loves, your hopes, your dreams, your wishes?  Never my loves!  Never lose your heart, but always let go into trust and love.  I read a post by Glennon Doyle the other day that says something like she loves fiercely every morning and quits every afternoon because at some point we have to swing and let go of the tension.  Letting go could be the key to actually getting what it is that we long for.  It’s the passive state of allowing rather than the active state of reaching towards.  It’s what I would term the state of EASE.

                When we are easy or have let go, we can play with the opposite of the tension of longing. We can let go enough to recognize what it is that we already have, what we cherish, what we love.  We can sink into knowing a moment’s rest from desiring to appreciate with gratitude that which sparkles already in our arsenal of gifts.  Playing with this opposite edge opens the flood gates for more to come and when it abruptly closes we swing back into longing for the next big wave of pleasure to come.  It’s a beautiful, poetic and lyrical dance within the tensions and paradoxes of life.  Love, pleasure, joy, gratitude…. STOP …. desire, longing, lust, striving and so it goes back and forth. 

                When we arrive on Brigid’s day in February we may have a sense of stirring within us.  That which we can not name.  Is it HIREATH, a longing or simply a fire in the belly?   That’s what Imbolc means after all is “in the belly.”  We know it is there like the quickening in a pregnant mother’s womb, we feel the first flutters of new life beginning.  The yearning to get out and do something, but WHAT?  Yet here we sit in our winter ice castle abodes simply holding on to the hope of the future.  That is what it is about!  It is the tension between.  It is the activity of longing and the passivity of calmly waiting.  The perfect moment.  This is MAGIC.  The miracles that bloom from the yin and yang flow of our circles of life.  You are sitting on the brink of epicness.  The world is sitting on the edge of its own paradox emerging from the stagnant halting of fear amidst death and destruction and edging closer to a lifting, a life-saving cure and re-emergence into the new reality of what activity will look like outside. 

                What can we do with this energy?  We can make our swing today a full circle, spiral dancing your way through the energies of the first flutters and the trapped longings inside of your bones.  Dance the dance of your keening wail, and feel the exuberant flutter of the mania all in on day.  This perfect moment is yours.  No matter whether you are of the Irish clans filled with longing souls or another clan you can make beautiful art on this day.  It is the bridge between the mourning crone and the manifesting maiden right now.  So, play with these energies.  Allow them to take shape within you.  Welcome in the energy of longing and ask yourself, “what is it that I pine for or call in for myself?”  Then, take a breath, clear the air and switch hands and ask yourself, “where can I let go and sink into calmness or play?” 

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                Brigid is a healer.  I’m certain it is no coincidence that on a day like today it is her day.  That depth of the watery healing well that we send our wishes and longings into mixes with the fiery glimmers and flutters of the return of the light, calmness and play into a day of new beginnings.  A day that moves us one step closer to balance on the equinox.  Build a cairn for her, weave a doll or create a nest for her to tend to your perfect paradox.  In one story of Saint Brigid, it is said she was born from a crack in the doorway of life and is a representative of the liminal state of existence between the tension of opposites.  Christianity and paganism.  Water and fire.  Longing and letting-go.  Go to her today to bridge the liminal and weave your way into the most beautiful expression of what can come from the tensions. 

                Today, I hold the tension for the deep longing for a more beautiful life, filled with home, belonging and abundance and the letting-go into the trust that life is already that and will be ever evolving into a more perfect way than even I could have dreamed.  I wish for you to be your most beautiful version of you in a life filled with joy, health, ease and wealth or whatever it is that you long for.  Much love from your fearless divine feminine leader, Tara of the 21 incarnations of SHE WHO IS A CREATRIX.  Blessed Imbolc.