In Like a Lion…

March is often a wet and blustery month. In primary school we learned that March comes, “In like a lion, and out like a lamb.”

Though that school was a very strict kind of Christianity, the deep truth that teacher (much beloved by me still) remains: March to the ancient Celts was known as a temperamental month. In fact, those born in March were known to be ones of swings in mood (and their mirror companions born in October are the same).

But with all the drenching wetness of March came a realization that all bodies of water, no matter how big or small, are of a sacred nature.

Water is life, Beloved. The ancient Celts knew this, and often named their waters after the godesses and gods they found gave life. There are still tons of rivers on those ancient islands named after Brigid (the feminine yang to Patrick’s yin) and others.

The amniotic fluid of birth, the well of life, the river of eternal life in scriptures: water was known by those ancestors, and still known today, as the thing that sustains.

This is why the atrocities in Jackson, Mississippi, and still in Flint, Michigan (and yes, Engineers, I realize you say their water meets standards, but the hell they had to go through to get there is still HELL…and it’s not yet all cleaned up), and Palestine, Ohio is just terrible.

Water is life.

It’s why we don’t baptize in whiskey or Coke.

The ancients knew this, and March is the season to embrace the truth.

The world needs to catch up to the ancient wisdom.

On Literalism

“So you’re not a literalist?” he asked me, a smirk on his face. He closed his Bible.

“I’m not,” I said, “and not a fundamentalist by any means.”

“Don’t have enough faith to trust the word of God?” he quipped. “Takes a lot of faith.”

“Actually,” I said, “I think I have too much faith to be a literalist or a fundamentalist. It takes no faith at all to believe something that is right in front of you. That’s easy. You’ll end up thinking nonsensical things, but it’s easy.”

He frowned.

“What’s not easy is trusting that, despite the flaws of the text, the history, and the context, it still has a Divine word stuck in there. What’s not easy is holding that the scriptures say something and that our intellect also has a part to play. What’s not easy is realizing that imperfect people wrote an imperfect document, and yet God stIll speaks through it…”

“But…” he said.

“That takes faith,” I interjected. “Literalism and fundamentalism are the least faith-filled expression of any religious tradition.”

Breakthrough Month

March is, for the ancient Celts, the second month of Spring.

It may be odd to see it as that, especially as so much of the Northern Hemisphere continues to be frozen, and much of it under snow. But the ancient Celts understood that growth happens even if you can’t see it, and that March would be the “break-through” month for much of creation.

It would literally break through the ground in bits and pieces.

I remember one March in Toledo, Ohio, listening to the radio as the snow fell on a Sunday night. Those wonderful words I had longed to hear finally came out of the announcer’s mouth, “No School for Trinity Lutheran Church and School,” and my brother’s and I cheered from our beds that we’d have a snow day that next day.

And as I lay in that bed and looked out the window, I saw the large tree next to my window, snow-covered, with small buds hanging off the branches.

It was ready to bloom, even as a blanket of ice and snow covered it.

And I remember feeling both glad for no school, but also quite sad for that tree that was ready for a break-through, and I resolved at that moment not to wish or pray for anymore snow that March, even if it meant no more snow days, so that tree could have a chance.

A quaint little story, for sure. But impactful for me. I had both extreme naivete (as if my prayers had caused or hastened snow), and some profundity, feeling connected with nature and a responsibility to allow it to do its thing.

March is the break-through month. The vernal equinox will balance life for a bit. The Earth will feel more and more alive with each day.

March is associated with the ash tree. In Nordic mythology Yggdrasil, the world tree, was an ash tree. It represented for the Celts the connection between the heavens and the earth, and in the month where the light and shadows balance for a moment, it makes sense they’d choose this tree.

We can meld our intentions with that of creation and allow each and the other to “do its thing.”

Plant the seeds you’re waiting to sow.

Stick daffodils behind your ear (a common practice for the ancient Celts to honor the Spring).

Embrace a new idea, aligning your inner life with the outer burgeoning life around you.

March is the break-through month.

What is breaking through for you?

Under the Rowan Moon

In Celtic spirituality, February is associated with the rowan tree. Its red berries were thought to guard against all sorts of bad things.

They’d put rowan branches on their cattle sheds and dairy barns to keep the meat and milk fresh and free of disease, and across Celtic lands crosses of rowan twigs were tied with red thread and carried in pockets or sewn into the linings of coats for traveling mercies.

Since the saint of the month, Saint Brigid, was associated with flame and fire, the blazing red berries were thought to be little glimpses of her favor.

I found a modern Celtic prayer to say under the Rowan Moon (February’s moon). And since it’s the last day one can say it, I thought I’d throw it out there.

What I love about this prayer is that, while images of Christ/love and the sun are really common, we don’t get many images of Christ/love being seen in the moon. But in the month where the moon still outshines the sun, it makes sense to have a prayer that highlights this truth, right?

Bright glory, bright moon,
the moon that shines on Brigid,
lamp of the poor,
love, light,
illumined by God.
Bright moon of glory,
teach me good purpose
toward all creation.
Bright moon of grace,
teach me good prayer
in accord with Christ’s heart.

Fiery moon of great light,
be in my heart
be in my deeds
be in my wishes.
Teach me your grace.
Bright moon over Brigid,
your light my hope,
your light on my purpose here,
in accord with God’s satisfaction.

Bright fire, bright moon,
point my heart to God’s repose.
Point me to my rest,
with the Son of Tranquility.

On Thresholds with My Sons

“Our lives are full of thresholds: moving through the rise and fall of each day, the rhythm of the week, the seasons, the veil between this world and the other, between the status quo and our own deepening and unfolding journey. Thresholds require that we be vulnerable, that we acknowledge that we simply do not know what is to come, that we surrender to something much bigger and more meaningful, even as it calls us away from familiar patterns and habits that have become much loved.”–Christina Paintner

The Late Addition

In the Roman calendar, February was a late addition.

Put at the original end of the calendar year (in the first ordering), February is not named for a Roman god or goddess, but rather for the work of one of those who already had a month named after them.

June had been named for the goddess Juno, so when February was tacked on to the end of the calendar year, they decided to honor the deity again by naming it “Juno Februata” which means “Juno Who Burns with Feverish Love.”

It got massaged into “February.”

Sticking this month at the end of the calendar was an attempt to make a fresh start for those who followed it, with love burning all the mishaps and foibles of the previous year, entering Spring as a baby. Today we’ve lost a bit of this, though happenstance does place Valentine’s feast day in the middle of this odd hinge month.

February now acts as a swinging door between Winter and Spring, and perhaps the love of the month is best seen in the frost that gives way slowly, in increments, to the budding green stems full of new life potential.

On Your Shadow Side…

Groundhog’s Day confounds many people.

It’s on the surface a quaint little holiday that elevates the lowly rodent. But it’s not about the rodent. It’s really not.

Imagine that you’re an ancient person in the belly of winter, wondering when spring might emerge. In your pondering you’re looking at your stockpile of hay for your livestock and salted meats and preserved veggies for your families. You’re wondering how much you should expend, and how much you should reserve in these uncertain days.

The groundhog, or any little animal, looking at their shadow may be an indicator for how you can survive and how much you can expend. Indeed, to take it a step deeper, your shadow, Beloved, that side of yourself that Jung encouraged us all to explore, lets you know how you can take the next steps in this world.

The ancient Celts named these days as Imbolc, “in the belly,” not only because they knew that winter was coming to an end but also because they knew that a time of introspection between the Yule days of celebration and these days of decision/indecision are necessary for living a full life.

It’s funny, almost ironic, that the day on which the groundhog emerges is so indicative on how the future is predictive in our mind’s eye. If it’s sunny and they see their shadow, winter continues. If it’s overcast and cloudy, winter will cease soon.

Think now of yourself: when things are “bright and sunny,” do you not wonder when the next shoe will drop and things will be bad again? And when you’re in trying times, do you not tell yourself “these days can’t last!”? It’s so…human. All of it.

These days are not just about a groundhog. They are about you, Beloved.

Deep down we all know these next few weeks aren’t decided by a rodent. But I wonder: how will you decide what to do next? How will you know what these days will bring?

How about this: no matter the weather, no matter the outward signs, our inward being can be geared toward love, acceptance, and a resilience that says, whatever may come, we’ve embraced our shadow and have decided to live.


In America this may be Groundhog’s Day, but in Celtic spirituality these days are known as Imbolc, or “in the belly,” because you’re at the halfway point between the equinox and the solstice, and you’re emerging into spring.

Christians celebrate Candlemas today, where new candles are blessed, as the ones lit at the Solstice are now spent. And in services many will hear about the Presentation of Christ, where the ancient prophets Simeon and Anna lift him up and bless him as the light of the world.

The symmetry is stunning and intentional.

These hinge days between seasons are worth paying attention to, as our mothers and fathers did.

So bless your new candles, because you’ve spent the old ones in these winter days, and start opening the shades.

It’s time to wake from our hibernation, blink, and live again.

On Meaning

“What’s going to happen?” she wondered. “There has to be a bigger purpose…”

“Why?” he asked honesty.

“Because I need it all to mean something,” she replied, tears welling up in her eyes.

“We all want things to mean something in some bigger plan,” he said, “but what if they don’t? What if the map is being drawn one second at a time? Does that mean it’s all…well..meaningless?” he countered.

“Well, no…” she said. “I would just like some assurances.”

“I’m not sure life gives you those,” he said. “What if the larger point is for us to embrace that things have meaning not because there’s some ‘larger plan,’ but because our small, little plans are beautiful enough? And the mistakes? They don’t need to fit in some larger scheme to be redeemed. They’re redeemed because we learn from them, heal them as best we can, and move forward just a little bit on this ever-evolving, ever-scrolling map we make.”

“Significance,” he went on, “is not assigned from above. It’s assigned from within. Things mean something because they’re important to us, to you, to him. Or her. It’s subjective, by God. And that’s OK. It doesn’t make it less. It probably makes it more.”

“More?” She closed her eyes trying to wrap her head around it all.

“So, my quest for certainty is a fool’s errand?” she wondered.

“No,” he said, “because you’re not a fool. It’s the most human thing in the world, I think. But what if we just got used to embracing the idea that there is no certainty?”

“It might be freeing…” she said, honestly.

“It just might be.”