Imbolg is and has been for many years my chance to renew my relationship with the only Celtic deity in my own regular pantheon, Brighid. It took me a while to get to know her, but her values appealed to me, especially in her inspiration aspect. And boy, did she come through this time: As I sat down to write, what came out was very different from the sort of thing I normally come up with, and in my view at least delightful.
Yule-tide always means to me, first and foremost, people gathering inside to stay safe from cold weather, feasting on the still-recent autumn harvest and sharing stories to pass the time. While Covid-19 has prevented large in-person gatherings, the idea of that winter feast is still very much possible within our own households. My focus on the fire in particular has to do with a project I've had going to ready a fireplace in my home for use - it needed a hearth to protect the floor, and some safety checks to ensure nothing would catch fire that wasn't supposed to.
Years ago, I got to play the part of the Irish deity Donn at a Stone Creed Grove Samhain rite. And seeing the arrival of the newly dead through his eyes, and also was briefed with a small bit of lore about him being the first being to die and thus becoming the ruler of the land of the dead. Armed with this knowledge, I began to develop a small amount of unverifiable ideas about what his time on that land must have been like, and this song more-or-less expresses those views.
One theme of autumn equinox brought to my attention by Gaarik Hamr, grove organizer of the nearby Spirit Valley Protogrove, was that of the return of herders to the village for winter. While lots of herders would have lived in the village and taken care of the animals close to home, others could and in some cases still do graze their animals in more remote places, and return only when the harsh winter weather makes staying out of town dangerous. This song focuses on that aspect of the life of those who have maintained the line of domestic animals for thousands of years.
For the rite of Lughnassadh, my grove celebrates this in the Irish cultural style, and a key aspect of the Irish celebration of Lughnassadh was a major festival gathering across all of Ireland. This festival involved, among other things, a truce among all the various warriors to replace their usual efforts to kill each other with efforts to impress each other, the nobility, and of course the audience. So while there are mentions of the mythology of the god Lugh in this song, the focus is much more on the human side of celebrating this season.