|Two Swans (Wallpaper) by Walter Crane 1875|
“Women and birds are able to see without turning their heads, and that is indeed a necessary provision for they are both surrounded by enemies.” James Stephens
“It is the women who make life endurable for each other, give physical affection without causing pain, share, advise and stick by each other,” Adrienne Rich
This Imbolc evening, I witnessed a beautiful sunset driving home from work. The sky had pinks, yellows blended together with a touch of magenta. It is a joyful sight at this time of year in Ohio. When I finally reached my home, getting out of my car, I heard honking above. Looking up, I saw a flock of geese flying in V formation headed towards the north. The moment was a hopeful after a week and early morning of icy rain, slush and forever-gray haze. It was a taste of hope reminding me that spring is near.
This year CAYA Coven’s focus is on women free as birds. My thoughts have centered on Brigid, Imbolic being her feast day. The white swan and a bird’s foot are two of her symbols. There is also the Scottish tale of the goddess Cailleach. On Imbolc eve if the day is bright and sunny, Cailleach gathers firewood if she wants the winter to last longer. If the day is gray and hazy than Cailleach sleeps-in. This makes her firewood run out sooner and in turn make the warm weather come sooner. She too is associated with a giant bird carrying sticks in her beak. Some feel she is Brigid in crone’s form ruling winter until spring.
by Luci Shaw
Black birds slice their evening patterns—
long curves in the sky. Everything
is drawing down into shade.
But the dark, which is at first so simple
is not simple. Away from the farmhouse
with is slits of yellow, the monochrome
develops like a print in the chemical bath.
The unbroken velvet swims
with complications so subtle that
seeing and hearing must take their time
to know. The shadow purples,
the dusk intricate with crickets. The sky
infested with pricks of light.
My whole body an ear, an eye.
In my yearlong exploration of women’s friendship, what I’ve discovered so far is an emphasis of giving and receiving. Friendship is about staying in touch through notes, phone calls and coffee. To be a friend means to stick with this dear person by celebrating the joys and holding their hand during the sorrows. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything they believe, it means you can agree to disagree, but still respect each other.
I believe people can learn a lot from observing nature, especially from swans and geese. “Scientists have found that birds position themselves and time their wing beats so perfectly, that according to aerodynamic theory, they minimize their energy use. “ (note: a great video showing birds flying) Each bird creates an uplift for the one behind. This allows the flock to fly further than one going solo.
Geese like a great friend, honk from behind cheering those ahead to keep up their speed. Geese believe in shared leadership; all get their chance in the key position. When a goose gets tired, someone is there to step up and take the lead. This allows the tired goose to fall back and rest.
Geese are caring. When one gets sick or wounded and falls away from the flock, two others will fall out of formation to be with that bird. They will not return to the flock, instead they stay with their fallen friend until they are able to fly or it dies.
"We shall lift each other up" by Circle of Women