shadow land (or dark water)

In the Gaelic tradition, February 2 is the day when the Cailleach — the creatrix and divine hag of Gaelic tradition — gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, foul weather on this day is often considered a blessing.

It seems we will be blessed.

However, I am in dire need of a little winter. January has slipped away from me somehow and I have spent far too little time inside. How did December’s busyness invade January’s solitude with its expectations and command performances? Ugh, I’ve been too busy trying to BE something, not enough time at all simply being.

Last night I asked Wise Woman for a dream, an answer really. I conjured her up, tangled seaweed hair and limbs akimbo, from the bottom of the Algonquin lake,  and asked her to climb once more into the bow of my canoe. Show me the way, I prayed. Then, my lips curled into a reassured and contented smile, I sighed into the pile of covers  and fell into my slumber certain that she’d come.

I woke without a dream, not an image, not a scrap. The answer?  6 more weeks of winter, as back to the bottom of the lake dove my Cailleach.

Several months ago, I wrote about this feeling that I’ve had of bobbing along the surface  while some other part of me lay deep in wait.  Although on one hand, I’ve trusted Her unseen anchoring presence, it seems in some other way I think I’ve been waiting for her to surface.  Ah, but perhaps it is time for me to join her.

In recent days, I’ve been pondering the call of winter for its own sake. Perhaps She too waits for me to join her. Instead, relentlessly I try to pull Her into spring, into greening, into showing me what is to become.  I want evidence, but when I look beneath the snow, it is not in truth for Her, but for signs of her sister, Spring, in the pointing up sprout of a bulb, or vestiges of her other sister, Autumn , in the pointing down tip of an acorn that has nestled in to sprout roots.

My relationship with Winter, and with the Wise Woman of the lake are One- a trinity of W’s if you will. Wisdom. Winter. Woman.  I wait for each of them to show me a sign, when in truth each of them waits for me to enter fully into Her.  I am the one who needs to show up, to dive into that dark water, to go beneath the noise and sit quietly with the stillness, to be unafraid of that silence,  to be empty and dark. My surface noise and distractions keep me far from Her.

This morning I read these words by Macrina Weiderkehr,

“Winter’s frozen mask hides the vibrancy of life but reveals precious secrets about a mysterious hidden presence. Only those who risk non-doing will learn those secrets. We are called away from traffic and noise, away from words and thoughts, away from that which would hinder our being.  All of us desire to touch that place within where  wisdom lies, that mysterious well-of-knowing so often hidden from our hearts and minds.  The way to that holy place is the way of surrender. ( If we want to know God we must give up all our ideas of God ) We will reach the well-of-knowing only when we have the courage to leap into the well-of-unknowing.  There in that place we learn to ask questions without needing the answers. We surrender to the One who waits in the dark in us, like the seed surrenders to the dark fertile soil, where so much creative energy, so much Christ-energy awaits us. God is always waiting for us, longing for union with us. If we can become silent enough, perhaps we will become aware of God awaiting us.

Or as the Tao te Ching might state, ‘Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all understanding’

Brigid, celtic goddess or catholic saint, either way embodiment of the feminine divine, is also celebrated on this February 2 winter threshold day, this day when the darkness and stillness of winter kisses the light and impetus of spring, this day when the veil is thin between the void of  Eternal Mystery and the beauty of the Manifest, this day where  being and non-being touch. I have learned too that Brigid was/is also associated with holy wells. As I stand above her today, gazing into that dark water, that underground source,  I drop a pebble, and for a moment can see her reflection before it distorts and ripples away…. tangled hair in seaweed, arms akimbo…

Elusive is She.

As She waits for me, to still and quiet my soul.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: diving deep and surfacing « Emmaatlast’s Weblog

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M.C. Reardon

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