To take up from yesterday. Well the meeting was successful to a point, the four of them walked down to the bridge, and lo and behold two barn owls flew over traversing the large verges on either side. Shirley said that in fact at their farm there were 2 to 3 pairs of barn owls which they were very protective over. Also the otters in the river, though one had been killed on the road. As they walked back and stopped outside our house, J pointed to the stag pipe across the road, put in probably late 19th century which took its water from a spring on the hill. J wanted to get rid of it but Paul stepped in and said what about Nelson?. Nelson lives on a small piece of land surrounded by his animals and lives in an old caravan and the stag pipe is his only source of water. Paul jokingly said we thought of 'dressing' it as it is Imbolc today - funny looks all round;)
I would not consider us pagans but we acknowledge the fact that it is part of our modern culture, just as christianity slowly fades something is needed to fill in the gap. Remember Gaia, that whole encompassing belief that the Earth on which we live is alive and manages its systems, the theory put forward by James Lovelock that the earth is self-adjusting, well a whole new religion and environmental movement began.
So historically, and I am going to go back to a wonderfully Irish named author for you, Proinsias MacCana - Celtic Mythology. Now if you inhabit the world of historians or archaeologists, they will foam at the mouth for the wrong introduction of the word 'Celtic', ignore their mealy-mouthed approach, live in the world and take comfort in myths and legends that have fallen down the centuries, traces of which can be found in our churches which had a bloody hard time stamping out paganism ;)
Once I lived in the city of Bath, whose Roman history encompassed a female Celtic divinity call Sulis, and the Romans being astute aligned her with their goddess Minerva, goddess of craft and many other things, well MacCana tells the Irish tale of Saint Bride or Brighid, who also follows the same pattern of adaptation in Ireland, (the mother goddesses), where many of the great Celtic tales were written down.
''Brighid was first mentioned by Cormac's Glossary (900 AD) she was an expert in filidhecht - in other words poetry and traditional learning in general, as well as divination and prophecy...
Saint Brighid had a close connection with livestock and the produce of the earth, and her feast day was 1st February coinciding with Imbolc.
She was born, we are told, at sunrise neither within nor without a house, is fed from the milk of a red and white cow (a supernatural cow), hangs her wet cloak on the rays of the sun....."
I could go on, Saint Brighid also tends an eternal sacred fire with the help of nineteen nuns, which of course links her with Minerva at Bath who also kept a constant sacred fire - imitation, or at least the limitation of their lives.
Here Colette of Bealtine Cottage explains her interpretation for me slightly over the top but it lies at the heart of the modern day belief. And, perhaps more importantly is joyous. Perhaps in this time of feminism such things are better left to their own devices - but still.