Saturday, February 1, 2014

Imbolc: A Time of Rebirth

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I remember that I was not a typical child.  I had deep artistic and intuitive sensitivities.  I found listening to the wind blowing through the trees to be a virtually mystical experience.  I could sense the quality of health within people...or lack thereof.  It is no wonder I have followed a personal and professional path that has featured the arts, music, photography and writing.

During the period of 2003 to 2006 I was a student of Pamela Colorado.  Dr. Colorado created the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network as a focal point for efforts to celebrate and preserve the wisdom of indigenous cultures and their associated knowledge and life-ways.  Meeting her profoundly affected the course of my life.  During the masters degree program I undertook under her guidance I explored my paternal family heritage.  I made a trip to the Netherlands in October, 2004 to learn more about the origins of my family.  It was a profoundly illuminating and amazing time.  I can still remember the beautiful birch trees I encountered one evening outside of the small village of Ootmarsum where my family originally lived before coming to the United States in 1872.

I am thinking of the birch tree today because this tree is associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid and the particular occasion known as Imbolc, which occurs today.  Imbolc is, in a sense, a midwinter festival that acknowledges the rebirth that will shortly be upon us when the season of spring begins in earnest.  My visit to the Netherlands included a wonderful experience of the birch tree.  I wish to honor this day of Imbolc by recounting the power of the birch tree with a journal entry I made in October, 2004.  Some of the content has been removed to protect my identity and family name.  It appears below:

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Moon in Leo, Mars and Jupiter conjunct at 5 degrees Libra

Tonight I am some thirty kilometers west of where I began this morning.  I am in the municipality of Wierden, but several kilometers outside of the town center.  I am spending this evening at a bed and breakfast called Heide Hoeve.  It is a beautiful farm and quite remote, at least according to my own past experiences in this life.

This evening, as the sun was setting, I went for a walk (longer than expected!) down a footpath.  This was in some sense the first day I really was in my indigenous mind.  Though Ootmarsum and Groot Agelo were important sites for my great-grandfather Barney, his father Gradus and previous generations had more of a connection here, on this land where I am tonight.  I hope to be blessed with good, enjoyable dreams this night.  It is only shortly after 7 p.m. tonight as I write, but already I feel like retiring.  Perhaps I am getting into a more ancient mode of setting my sleep cycle by the sun cycle?  It seems that is happening.

As I walked this evening, I prayed to my ancestors for help with everything!  I prayed for help relating to my father, stepmother, other family in America, with Apela and my other professors, with the other students in the Indigenous Mind program, with financial abundance...with my colonization paper, I mean with everything!  For I certainly feel much of the time, even if it isn’t true, that I do need much help in my life!

As I walked down this footpath I marveled at how I was finally back “home” in my true indigenous habitat.  Everything, the sun, plants, trees, cows, water, grass was this beautiful panoply and I felt completely at one with it all.  The scenery was beautiful.  And I seem to have happened upon my sacred tree.  Is it an elm?  I am not sure!

I must confess I had my doubts about coming here when I had first arrived about 4 p.m.  The town of Wierden was so empty of people on the streets it almost felt eerie to me.  But it is a Sunday, and in this part of the world people really still take time to live and do absolutely nothing productive it would seem.  Hooray for that!  Enough of capitalism gone insane in America where people work 50 or 60 hours a week.  That is crazy!

Now that I am really out on the land I feel my indigenous mind returning to me.  But I feel as if I have just set my toes into this well of remembrance.  The plunge happens over time, it seems.  But hopefully I have plenty of time as of yet.  There is much I wish to accomplish!  And I am still a young, virile 31!

I hope my coming here somehow can bring healing to the family in America which, in my humble opinion, has become deeply neurotic in many ways.  Some healing needs to happen in this family line.

Tomorrow I plan on traveling to the Gemeente Wierden to look at documentation concerning my ancestry.  There are many people of the same last name in the phone book in Enter, so I no doubt am going to have quite an adventure here!  I hope to accomplish much in the remaining seventeen days I have here.  And I pray also that I may have a safe and propitious return trip to this place, the Netherlands, in December when I come back once again from America. (Note: my return trip did not ultimately happen)
And all ye ancestors who came before him, please hear my prayers, the prayers I have lifted up this evening under such a beautiful sunset sky.  Help me to step aside so that these dreams might all and quickly come to fruition.  I offer this prayer in loving thanks for this opportunity to come home!


Approximately two years ago I experienced another profound period of change.  It happened at the time of Imbolc in 2012.  I can still vividly recall a particular day when I looked at my altar at home and unexpectedly noticed a fascinating sight.  The sunlight falling through my bedroom window was illuminating three of my four grandparents in a photo I have long placed on my altar.  Seeing my one grandfather in shadow (the one of Dutch origin) while my three (predominantly) German grandparents were illuminated left me with a strong intuition that I would soon somehow have the opportunity to travel to Germany and somehow explore another sign of my family heritage.  How this would come to be I could not know at the time.  My very first sense of this coming to be in the near future came in the previous year in 2011 when I unexpectedly read about the history of the Nazi legacy in Germany on the Hawaiian island of Maui (of all places) in May, 2011.  These events and many others throughout my life have convinced me that the world is filled with much magic and phenomenon we cannot necessarily easily explain in ordinary space-time.

My opportunity to travel to Germany came a short time later in 2012.  I was awarded a fellowship through the American Council on Germany.  Nearly a year to the day after I received notice of the award I flew to Europe.  Only a few weeks after my return on June 1st of last year came my unexpected PTSD diagnosis.  And then a new phase of my journey began.  And now here I am still seven months later feeling better than I ever have.  The paths our lives take can be so seemingly strange and unknowable.  I would never have guessed I would be where I am at now nor feeling drawn in the directions I feel pulled in the future.

Rebirth is no small thing.  The process of moving forward from such a tremendous moment in time is also no small thing.  Theses are Herculean matters of identity and life purpose I have been grappling with these last many months.  And now that I am finally sub-clinical for PTSD I feel I can begin to take a big sigh of relief.  I can get on with the business of living rather than coping and reacting.

Later today I am going to honor the time of Imbolc in my own special way by visiting the line of birch trees downtown near the downtown branch of the library.  I feel grateful to be alive.

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!