Sheets of slippery silver
slide over the roof’s edge;
torrential curtains eat snow.
In January a gift of rain
brings bare trees to life,
blushing maple buds swell.
Birds flit through
tattooed the palest green.
Rushing streams seek oceans not yet dreamt of,
stones hurtling one upon another
to the sea.
A tangle of thrashing trees
greets the intrepid traveler, sodden
deer bow heads in sleep.
Battered wind chimes clatter and roar.
Birches bend low;
humble but steadfast they know…
Mist, thickened by rising steam
obscures an Earth fissure,
She is splitting herself in two.
Ascending, burnished in copper and gold –
Our Lady of the Beasts
Raises her paws to purify all waters…
She is the Promise of Spring.
I was writing a paper about the Bear Goddess when this poem emerged out of the “break in time” as rain fell…
The Bear Goddess comes to us through the Veil – epochs pass- She can be recalled through Neanderthal peoples who cashed her bones. Paleolithic and Neolithic peoples honored her through ceremony leaving carefully placed skulls deep within caverns to protect them from desecration. Until the advent of patriarchy She still reigned throughout the northern hemisphere as a powerful solar Goddess first as a Bear and then as a Bear Woman. Her latest incarnation in human form is the Greek Artemis, goddess of the wilderness, a protector of women she presides over birthing. Some say Mary is called “She of the Bear.” Today she is totally absent as a theriomorphic figure, this once Wild Mother Goddess of all.
I bring the Bear Goddess to life again through my imagination, the field I inhabit, and my writing. She emerged for me this winter as Brigid, (whose root meanings include the words “bear” and “brightness”) the Celtic Fire/Light Goddess who in her human form is patroness of poetry, a healer, and mistress of the forge. She transforms through fire…
At the Winter Solstice we celebrate her as a Fire Goddess. Her human daughters once wore evergreen wreaths lit with candles to honor her. At Imbolc we celebrate her as the goddess who brings First Light to the people and the promise that spring will come. In the old Celtic ways the Winter Solstice and Imbolc were both her festivals…At Imbolc she comes to us as First Light but also as Lady of the Waters. At this festival we begin to celebrate the rising of the waters that will eventually overflow their banks, melt the snow and nourish the earth so seeds may grow… thus this festival is also a time of purification in preparation for the Vernal Equinox and the coming of spring.
It is fitting that I write a poem about her watery aspect in January when her second festival is only three weeks away.
It is also fitting that my first poem in six months would emerge out of my work with Brigid, Bear Goddess, who in her human form was a patroness of poets.
Notes: The prehistoric cave bear image comes from Chauvet cave in France.