Friday, February 02, 2007

Groundhog Day!

Again and again.

Evidently the rotund mammal forsees an early Spring, which is just fine, as today was feeling too much like all the other ones recently. I've been seeing too much of my own shadow recently; so glad the little beastie didn't see his.

Today (and thereabouts), is also, and relatedly so...

- Christian Candlemas (lights in the windows from dusk till dawn), which celebrates the Virgin Mother and the returning of the light at the midway point between dark winter solstice and the vernal equinox. Said by some to have absorbed pagan traditions such as...

- the Gaelic Imbolc or Oimelc, 'in milk' (referring to the coming birth and nursing of spring lambs), is the day of fertile union (midpoint) between the God (winter, personified as male in some cultures) and Goddess (spring). seemingly inextricably linked to...

- St. Brigid's Day or Bride's Day (pronounced 'breed'), which celebrated a maiden goddess (Blessed Virgin). She (Ord Brighideach) is a keeper of sacred fire, the hearth, the 'spark' of life, often represented by candles. In some Scottish stories, she is rescued from the Cailleach (Hag - here, 'he's' a 'she') of winter by her lover Angus. Governess of healing arts and smithcraft, she was also a teacher of martial arts, and patroness of warfare (briga, hence 'brigands'), reflecting the maternal protective function, which is often fiery and ferocious as a She-Bear (a vastly prominent 'great mother' in Europe - think Ursa Major (Callisto), St. Ursula, Berne and Berlin).

- Roman Lupercalia, variously attributed, but sometimes cited as sacred to Venus (whom we 'venerate') and women (whom we should try harder to venerate).

-Groundhog day is thought to be a continuation of these and other folk/pagan traditions, though the connective fabric's a bit threadbare these days.

A poem is often referenced ( from Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations, Ortha Nan Gaidheal, Volume I., Alexander Carmichael, 1900), as evidence:

"The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground."

or, translated more oddly:

"Early on Bride's morn
The serpent shall come from the hole,
I will not molest the serpent,
Nor will the serpent molest me."

Goodness gracious.

My mother has just phoned me, crying, why she doesn't know. She's thinking about her ailing mother and the early days when Virginia (for real) was a very good parent, before she got bitter; about making changes in her life; about how emotional she is these days. I told her to think about these holidays. Maybe she can try to be a better mother to herself. She replied, "Yes, and be a better mother to you." It's a thing I'm trying to do for myself as well.

"I swear to you, I will, by Candlemas!"*

Swear to me, you will too.

(*James Joyce, from Finnegan's Wake)

Statue of Brigit


unremitting mike said...

The serpent is going to come from the hole? Did these ancients think of nothing but porking? Funny how the serpent became a groundhog. Evolution in action!

Citizen H said...

Yeah, the groundhog saw a shadow today, but it was the shadow of my tire.

This means six more weeks of roadkill stench in front of the Hansen house, suckas!

whosyourhuckleberry said...

Wow, its been awhile since ya posted one of these...good job...

kissyface said...

Thanks Huck, I'll try to do better at honoring the holy days. Meant to do something for Xmas and New Year (Janus and all that), but I was separated from all my books and busy with family.

Citizen - you back behind the wheel so soon? i think maybe you knocked yer head a bit... what the hell is the Hansen house? It that where they harbor Punxsutawney Phil?

UF - oh, Mike. Maybe it's the Kundalini snake.

Citizen H said...


1. Rental car. I love my insurance company. Just wish the idiot's underwriter would quit sandbagging me so I could get my own ride again.

2. House down the block. Across the road from a wooded lot, so ordinarily some squished critter or other is on the pavement in front of it, an eye- (and nose) sore.

kissyface said...

Citizen -

'sandbagging'? I only know that term from college. We used it to mean partygoers leaving half drunk beers littering the place. Not sure why.

Citizen H said...

I meant they're using all the polite, clipped official language they can to tell me to stop bugging them and just hit up my own insurance company. They're stalling me. Apparently, the idiot was insured to some degree or other, since it's been three days since I called the owner's insurer and they keep telling me that the insurance status of the car was "undetermined". My "Either it is or it isn't, you ass-clowns!" argument isn't working very well.

steve said...

I am hoping that my daughter has plagarized you here- her senior Project she has chosen is to learn to speak Gaelic; which of course has evolved more into a study of Gaelic and Celt mythologies and learning a few key words and phrases...anyway, she has this in her outline...thanks KF always a good show!