The glitz and glitter of Yule have passed, the wheel has turned us through another secular New Year celebration, and now we enter into the long, cold dark in earnest (especially those of us in the north). Imbolc happens in the deepest dark of the coldest time, and sometimes it is only our faith that the sun does indeed return that carries us through to spring. As we light the candles for our Imbolc celebration and huddle before the cozy fire while the wild North wind whips snow around our homes and Jack Frost pries at the windows with icy fingers, we will reflect on the gifts we have been given lately, and begin to devise a plan for putting those gifts to good use in the coming year.
I must share the best gift I was given recently, a gift that came from the Gods on the last day of 2008. It was a close encounter with a Peregrine Falcon in the heart of the city.
On New Year's Eve day, I went to a small Italian market downtown to get a special Italian cheese. The snow was falling swiftly, and the roads were becoming treacherous.
As I started the truck to leave the store, I saw something dark drop swiftly out of the sky in front of the truck and into the fenced small front yard of the house where I was parked. I knew it was a bird of prey of some sort, and I waited to see what kind it might be. It rolled around for a bit under a bush, but the pigeon it had targeted escaped. It then hopped up out of the snow and onto a nearby stockade-type fence, where I saw it was a beautiful (and quite large) peregrine falcon!
The bird sat there for a very long time (probably disappointed to have missed his dinner), and I sat there, too, staring at it while it stared back at me. I marveled over seeing this rare bird in the heart of the city, of all places, on this residential street in a snowstorm. I wondered: what were the chances of my being in that very place at that most opportune of times? (Of course, as a Druid, I understand that it was no chance encounter.) I finally got out of the truck with my cell phone camera and took his picture, because I knew no one was going to believe what I was seeing with my own eyes. The bird was not afraid of me, and let me get within feet of him. There was the click of a connection between us, and then he flew off.
Since the encounter, I have been pondering what sort of omen this falcon might be. The peregrine is on the endangered species list, so this sighting was all the more special for that reason. I am certain that this marvelously opportunistic bird, with his impeccable timing, his unwavering patience, and his amazing agility and gracefulness, has a lesson for me. Is it his extremely adaptable nature that I am meant to take away from this? His intense focus and acute mental perception? Or shall I lean more toward the indigenous belief that he is associated with past life recall and so teaches how to delve into oneself without fear? Perhaps just the fact that you won’t find him in the popular animal totem books because he is so rare is a key to unlocking his message.
Yes, he was a very special gift from the Gods, the meaning of which I am still unraveling -- and yet I am certain of its value. I find that to be true of most Divine gifts, don’t you? This leads me to consider what a gift the Dark Time of the Year is to all of us! It is this darkness which allows us the time and inclination to go within and unravel the clues that are provided, clues to the Mysteries that make up both our universe and ourselves.
Brighid’s Fiery Blessings upon All
- The Topaz Owl