On a wild ironsand beach I prepare to welcome First Light, which in the southern hemisphere falls on August 2 .
This festival falls half-way between winter solstice and spring equinox. It was known to my Celtic ancestors as the festival of Imbolc or Brigid. Brigid was the Celtic goddess of fire and her flower was the dandelion, that little yellow sun whose stems are filled with white milk..
And so I make a circle for Brigid, even though the wind is howling, the rain stinging my skin with each new blast, and I need to pull my coat tightly around me to keep out the chill.
It’s hard to believe in the returning light after days and days of rain and storm.
And so I do what people have done for centuries.
I create something to invoke what is missing.
I bring in whiteness, the colour associated with Imbolc, which means ‘ewe’s milk’ and marked the return not only of the light, but of life-giving milk.
The wind continues to howl, and threatens to blow away my offering or obliterate it with sand. I blow the sand away, gently, from each disappearing shell.
The tide rushes towards me.
Brigid, in her maiden aspect, became associated with this threshold to spring. She represented the freshness of a maiden, as well as the power of the new moon and the flowing sea.
I grow the circle a little more until it becomes a wheel of welcome.
In the old days, people would place little cakes on a bench or table, open the door and say, ‘Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?’
My circles are a way of inviting her light, warmth and fire back to our land.
It is time.
Winter has gone on long enough.
Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?