2 February 2017 – Astro-Weather: Today is Groundhogs Day, where the fate of winter rests on the shoulders of a furry rodent, for those muggles who believe in a more modern folklore. If he the sticks his head out of his burrow this morning & sees his shadow, we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter. But if the weather is cloudy, it means spring is right around the corner.
What does this have to do with astronomy? Groundhog Day celebrates one of the 4 cross-quarter days. February 2 is the traditionally celebrated date betwixt the winter solstice & the vernal equinox. (The actual cosmic alignment happens tomorrow when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius & is called by some, Candlemas, still others Brigid’s Day or Imbolc – the lambing season – the time of year when the belly of the great mother quickens with the growing light*)
Right after dark this week, face east & look overhead. The bright star there is Capella, the Goat Star. To the right of it, by a couple of finger-widths at arm’s length, is a small, narrow triangle of stars known as “the Kids.” Although they’re not exactly eye-grabbing, they form a never-forgotten asterism with Capella.
Jupiter rises around 10 pm CST & climbs highest in the south about an hour before morning twilight commences. The benevolent god shines against the backdrop of Virgo, just north of that constellation’s brightest star, Spica.
This morning, viewers get a bonus because this giant appears to have a “black eye.” It is actually the dark shadow of Ganymede, the solar system’s largest moon, which crosses Jupiter’s north polar region from 1:51 to 4:25 am CST
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary The 40th day of the Christmas-Epiphany season, commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Joseph & Mary brought the child into the Temple, & when Simeon & Anna the prophetess, saw Him, they knew the prophesy of ‘The Chosen One’ had been fulfilled.
We see the connection between the Buddha & Jesus of Nazareth in the stories of Asita & Simeon. When Asita, the great Indian sage, saw Siddhartha as a young child, before he had reached Buddhahood, he was able to recognize what the child would become. It was Asita’s heart’s desire to see the Buddha before he died, so he wept because he was an old man & would not live to see him become the Buddha. This wise seer was then reborn in the time of Jesus as Simeon introduced in Luke 2:29-30 as the temple priest who waits for the Messiah. He recognizes the Buddha in the Nathan Jesus, so he praises god & says now he can die happy, having fulfilled his heart’s desire.
Mariä Lichtmess – Candlemas, Christian Churches bless the candles to be used for the New Year.
Imbolc – means ‘in the belly’ or ‘in the milk’ – ‘the lambing season’. Among the Celts, the pagan celebration of Imbolc honors the Triple Goddess Brigid, associated with purification & the fires of the forge, to call in the powers of the sun. Folks would carry torches & cross the fields in procession, praying to the goddess to purify the ground before planting. Crêpes are a tradtional food, with their round form & golden color -reminiscent of the sun, an appropriate symbol during Imbolc, as this is the time of the year when the days get longer, & the roots begin to stir.
In churches, the torches were replaced by blessed candles whose glow was supposed to take away evil & symbolize that Christ is the light of the world. They would then take the candles to their homes to bring protection thruout the New Year. In 1372 this celebration became associated with the purification of Mary at the Temple (similar to the churching of women).
Lupercalia – The ancient Romans celebrated this festival in honor of Lupercus, & Feralia the god & goddess of fertility & shepherds. A theme of purification was also present. There was a custom of the Vestal Virgins offering cakes made with wheat from the old crop so that the following crop would be fruitful. (more on the above feasts to follow on another BLOG)
Feast of the Bear – From antiquity to the Middle Ages, bears were a cult symbol of the Germans, Scandinavians & the Celts. On this day they celebrated the end of hibernation. This was around the time when the bears would leave their dens to see if the weather was mild. For a long time, the Catholic Church sought to eradicate these pagan practices. To do this, it instituted the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple which is celebrated on February 2, which corresponds to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. However, the celebrations of the bear & the return of the light continued, with bonfires & other torchlight processions. Pope Gelasius I in the fifth century instituted the feast of candles, or Candlemas. From the twelfth to the eighteenth century, Candlemas was called “chandelours” which means bear in French, in many areas (including the Alps, Pyrenees, Ardennes) where the memory of the cult of the bear was still very present. There is also the Aosta Saint-Ours, & Saint Blaise (which means “bear”). Candlemas is also the beginning of the carnival period; the bear is the carnival animal par excellence.
Feast of Persephone – In addition, the Festa candelarum in Rome commemorated the search for the Spring Goddess Persephone, by her mother the Goddess of Life, Demeter, kidnapped by the King of the Other World Hades. This festival symbolizes the return of the Light. The myths of Sleeping Beauty or Theseus & Ariadne, for example, relate to the release or liberation of the light (Dawn of the year) by the “solar knight”.
Feast day of Cornelius a Roman centurion. He is depicted in the New Testament as a God-fearing man who always prayed & was full of good works. Cornelius receives a vision in which an angel of God tells him that his prayers have been heard, he understands that he’s chosen for a higher alternative. The angel then instructs Cornelius to send the men of his household to Joppa, where they will find Simon Peter, who is residing with a tanner by the name of Simon (Acts 10:5ff).
The conversion of Cornelius comes after a separate vision given to Simon Peter (Acts 10:10–16) himself. In the vision, Simon Peter sees all manner of beasts & fowl being lowered from Heaven in a sheet. A voice commands Simon Peter to eat. When he objects to eating those animals that are unclean according to Mosaic Law, the voice tells him not to call unclean that which God has cleansed.
When Cornelius’ men arrive, Simon Peter understands that through this vision the Lord commanded the Apostle to preach the Word of God to the Gentiles. Peter accompanies Cornelius’ men back to Caesarea. When Cornelius meets Simon Peter, he falls at Peter’s feet. Simon Peter raises the centurion & the two men share their visions. Simon Peter tells of Jesus’ ministry & the Resurrection; the Holy Spirit descends on everyone at the gathering & they all begin speaking in tongues, praising God
1786 – Birthday of Jacques Philippe Marie Binet, a French mathematician, physicist & astronomer. Binet’s Formula expressing Fibonacci numbers in closed form is named in his honour.
1882 – Birthday of James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, & poet
1971 – Idi Amin replaces President Milton Obote as leader of Uganda
1972 – The British embassy in Dublin is destroyed in protest at Bloody Sunday
1976 – The Groundhog Day gale hits the north-eastern United States & south-eastern Canada, killing 112
1987 – After the 1986 People Power Revolution, the Philippines enacts a new constitution
1990 – Apartheid: F. W. de Klerk announces the unbanning of the African National Congress & promises to release Nelson Mandela
2007 – The worst flooding in Indonesia in 300 years begins. Death toll 804
2012 – The ferry MV Rabaul Queen sinks off the coast of Papua New 300 dead
POD (Poem Of the Day)
~Let the crystals fall
To add form to the light
Thru the white I will see
The single star that calls to me
The gibbous moon falls away so that I may live
Free to stumble
Free to fly with my snow angel
Listening, waiting, willing
The sap to rise
A Glimpse into
Brigid, the Alchemical Triple Goddess
of the 4 fires & the purifying waters
which gives birth to healing.
A long time ago, nigh the beginning, near the waters of a sacred well, at the first crack of pink in the young morning of the Cross-Quarter between Winter & Spring, at the very threshold – the goddess Brigid slipped into the world, & the waters of the world rippled with joy.
Up rose a column of fire – out of the head of the new goddess – that burned to the very sky. Brigid reached up & broke away a flaming plume from her crown & dropped it on the ground before her. There it leapt & shone, creating a new hearth.
Then from the fire of her hearth, Brigid used both hands to draw out a leaping tongue of heat, swallowed it, & felt the fire burn straight to her heart. There stood the goddess, fire crowning her head, fire leaping inside her heart, glowing & shooting from her hands, & dancing on the hearth before her.
The waters of the sacred well quickened as Brigid built a chimney of brick about her hearth. Then she formed a roof of thatch & walls of stone. And so it was that by the waters of the sacred well the goddess built the forge in which she keeps the 4 fires which have served the world evermore.
Out of the fire in Brigid’s hands baked the craft of bending iron. Out of the fire on Brigid’s hearth & the waters of her sacred well came the healing potions, teas, & tinctures. Out of the fire on Brigid’s head flared out writing & poetry. Out of the fire in Brigid’s heart spread the warmth of compassion.
Word of the gifts of Brigid’s fire traveled deep & wide. People flocked to learn from Brigid the secret of using fire to soften iron & bend it to the shape of their will. The people called it smithcraft, & made wheels, pots, & tools that did not break.
All the medicine plants of the earth were gathered & brought to the house of the goddess. With their leaves, flowers, bark, & roots, they offered themselves to the waters of her sacred well. Brigid made healing brews. She gave a boy with weak teeth an infusion of the dandelion root. She gave a young woman the decoction of raspberry leaf to help her womb carry a child. An old bent man, took from Brigid wintergreen bark for his ache & black cherry juice for the gout. She gave comfrey to a girl with a broken leg & blue cohosh to another to bring her moon-blood without pain. Brigid infused motherwort, licorice root, & dried parsley for a woman who was becoming a crone. “Cup a day,” said Brigid, “that you stay supple & strong.”
The people were healed & wanted Brigid’s recipes. “But we can’t remember which plants for which healings, where to gather them or how long to steep them,” they told Brigid.
The fire on Bridget’s head blazed bright. She took up a blackened stick & made marks with it on a flat piece of bark. “These are the talking marks,” She said. “They are the way to remember what you don’t want to forget.”
The talking marks also let the people write down the stories of her wisdom. Here is one that fits for us today:
Once 2 men, came to Brigid, both had a terrible case of leprosy.
“Bathe yourself in my well.” said Brigid to the 1st man. And so it was that at every place the healing waters touched, the man’s skin turned whole again.
“Now bathe your friend,” said Brigid.
Repulsed, the man backed away from his friend. “I won’t touch him,” he said.
“Then you are not truly healed,” said the goddess. With that truth revealed, the 1st man’s leprosy returned & the goddess herself bathed & healed the 2nd man.
“Return to me with compassion,” she said to the 1st man. “There find your healing.”
The folk hold the wisdom of the goddess close; & every year on Imbolc they thank Brigid for her well of wisdom & her fires of hand, hearth, head & heart.
Brigid is a Triple goddess holding the archetype of the Maiden, Mother & Crone. In her maiden aspect, she is said to charm new life into the cold heart of Winter, with her white birch wand, to help him open his eyes to the promise of Spring. Imbolc literally means ‘in the belly’ it is the lambing season after all, when the milk begins to flow.
Traditionally a time of purification — so clean your house! Brigid will thank you for it. If you have any Christmas greenery lingering, burn it now. And bathe with warm milk for health & beauty.
Leave a silk ribbon on your doorstep for Brigid to bless: It can then be used for healing purposes
Give an offering: cake, buttered bread & milk will do — outside your door: Brigid & her cow are said to walk through the neighborhood tonight. In the city it is proper to give food to the homeless.
Make your own Brigid Cross, a fiery sun-wheel & hang it up, especially in the kitchen where her influence can bless your food.
Meditate upon what you would like to see grow in health & strength this year: for yourself, your family, your community, the Earth, & ask for Bride’s blessing upon your prayers.
When my daughter was young, we would gather with other Waldorf families during this magical time to honor & explore the power of the Triple Goddess within us, through storytelling, crafting fiery Sun-Wheel’s around the fire, sharing a potluck meal, & making a scavenger hunt in the woods.
Now is the time of the stirring, when the sap begins to rise & the waters to flow. While frost still bites & winds still blow, the light is growing stronger, & life begins to wake. It is the time of year when the belly of the great mother quickens with the growing light, for this is the feast of Brigid – the midwife of the New year who births the sun. Through the union of fire & water, we can work the magic to bring in healing & call in the spring.
Thank you, Brigid, for the smith-craft of your forge, the soothing healing teas, the talking marks, & for the warmth of compassion. May we use it wisely to prepare for growth & renewal, performing the ancient rituals of spring cleaning, purifying & anointing the body electric, awakening the spirit within…A time of spiritual re-dedication, of self-blessing & initiation, of affirming & energizing creative work…A time of blessing the seeds & consecrating the garden tools…A time to purify & get fertile, so let’s charm the plow, & kiss the candle, to re-kindle, a need-fire, as a welcoming beacon, to call back, our dormant power, to heat up, our potential, & re-seed our creativity. As we add fuel to the fire of our community, one spark warms us all, a purifying fire, that burns clean & opens the way to the true power of love & light from deep within us all…
Come join me in a ritual celebrating the Mysteries of the Celtic Goddess
Thursday February 9th 2017 -7 pm
at the Theosophical Society in America
1926 North Main Street
Wheaton, IL 60187
Invoking the Practical Alchemy of the Celtic Triple Goddess Brigid
To Purify, Awaken, & Galvanize Your Head, Heart, and Hands
Brigid’s festival is the 1st of the cross-quarter days in the wheel of the year, a time of spiritual re-dedication and initiation. Brigid invites us to forge and shape ourselves, as the tools of our own destiny. Come Renew Yourself. Together we will thaw the winter & rouse the mysteries growing within…
Hazel Archer Ginsberg is a Spiritual Midwife, and Trans-denominational Minister, working in an eclectic style that inspires connections – initiating us into the magic, waiting to be revealed, in the cycle of the seasons. Festivals Coordinator of the Rudolf Steiner Branch of the Anthroposophical Society. Lecturer, Promoter, Blogger, Poet & Performance Artist. www.ReverseRitual.com.
$10 nonmembers $5 members