February starts with Imbolc, the Celtic celebration of the returning light and the feast day of Brighid. She is, of course, the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. It is said her name is derived from “high or exalted one,” but it is sometimes put forth that the name Brighid is derived from brio-aigit, “fiery arrow,” which is certainly a fitting name for a goddess associated with three fires: the hearth, the forge, and the flame of poetic inspiration. In Irish tradition, poetry and seership are interwoven, so Brighid is often seen as the imbas (or divine inspiration) behind divination and prophecy as well.
However, the month of February also brings Valentine’s Day, the origins of which may reach back into the mists of a time before the goodly saint’s name was attached to it. Be that as it may, there must always be balance, and along with our beloved Brighid, some with Irish ancestry also honor a Celtic God in February (at Imbolc) who is less known in the popular lexicon: Aengus Og (Angus the Young). Aengus is the Celtic God of love, youth, and poetic inspiration (that last bit coinciding with the attributes of Brighid). As February is deep within the Dark Half of the Year (from Samhain to Beltaine), and is traditionally a time to go within, reflect, and incubate our futures, it makes sense that Brighid and Aengus both inspire that kind of insight.
Of course, like all the Tuatha de Danaan (Children of Danu), Aengus is complex. He is the son of the Dagda (the Good God, or allfather) and the river goddess Boann, who had an affair. To hide her pregnancy (because she was already married to Nechtan and he to the Morrigan!), the Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months so that Aengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day. (In classic Irish irony, a “love child” becomes a love god.) Later, when he came of age, he took the Dagda’s home at Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange) from his father by a trick of the language. He asked his father if he could stay there for “a night and a day.” The Irish language has no indefinite article, so the asking was for “night and day” – in other words, eternity.
Aengus was very popular with the ladies. From one story in particular, The Dream of Aengus, we learn that Aengus sees a particular woman in his dreams for a year, and he falls in love with her. His mother and father both search for this woman, and she is found after the third year at the Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth. Aengus goes there and finds 150 girls chained in pairs; the woman from his dreams, Caer, is one of them. Every other year at Samhain, the girls all turn into swans and remain so until Samhain of the next year. Aengus is told he can marry Caer if he can identify her in her swan form. Aengus turns himself into a swan and they fly away, singing beautiful music that put all listeners asleep for three days and nights. (This is one of the reasons swans are sacred to the Irish and protected in Ireland to this day, along with the Children of Lir — but that’s another story for another time.) How interesting that swans are known to mate for life! We often see a pair of swans depicted face-to-face with their necks creating a heart shape, symbolic of love.
In other legends, Aengus was able to repair broken bodies and return life to them — at least, temporarily. He loved his foster-son Diarmuid so much that when Diarmuid was killed, Aengus took the lifeless body home to Brú na Bóinne where he “breathed life into it” whenever he wished to speak with Diarmuid. Perhaps we might call on Aengus to help us converse in the deepest dark of the year with those loved ones who have crossed over.
If you enjoyed reading this bit about Aengus Og, Irish God of Love, Youth, and Poetic Inspiration, you may want to join us for the Celtic Wheel of the Year Series, where you will learn much more about the traditions, tales, god/desses, heroes, and animals associated with the Irish Feast Days throughout the year.
Come and meet the newest kids on the block, and learn some helpful mindfulness techniques at the same time.
Experience the joyful presence of this little herd of young goats while you practice being mindful. Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Mindfulness practice has been proven to help alleviate anxiety and depression by focusing our attention on the present moment, which counteracts rumination and worrying. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond to stress with awareness of what is happening in the present moment, rather than simply acting instinctively. By teaching awareness for one’s physical and mental state in the moment, mindfulness allows for more adaptive reactions to difficult situations. Learn how to cultivate mindfulness in a fun and interesting way.
And hey — close encounters with these adorable Nigerian dwarf goats! But please be aware that this is a learning experience on the farm, not a petting zoo.
Special introductory offer!
Individual sessions: $25 per 50-minute session. Group rates upon request. Contact Cindy: email@example.com or 315.289.2030 for an appointment.
Pssst! In the springtime, when the weather improves, we will also be offering Goat Yoga (with instructor Midge Regier) on the grass with the kids. Put your name on the waiting list now to ensure your spot!
Is Equine-Assisted Counseling and Personal Development for You?
You can find out for less with the
WILD Black Horse BOGO Holiday Sale!
In the spirit of generosity that permeates the holiday season, Black Horse Spirit is offering a wildly spirited gift to you! Buy One Equine-Assisted Session before January 1st and Get a Second Session (a $100 value) Absolutely Free!
Why Equine-Assisted? Well, with all populations, including children, adolescents, adults, and veterans, equine-assisted counseling has been found to induce a sense of well-being and feelings of acceptance. It is also effective with people who have control issues and childhood trauma. Additionally, positive changes have been observed in the field of alcohol and drug treatment. Sessions with a horse tend to create a safe environment where coping and problem-solving skills can be practiced. It is recommended for use in individual, family, and group settings to work through depression, grief, trauma, loss, and setting healthy boundaries. Studies have shown that equine-assisted counseling is a supportive intervention for women who have survived abuse, providing opportunities to improve self-esteem, a sense of empowerment, and an ability to trust and feel physically and emotionally safe.
There has never been a better time to gift yourself or someone you love with Equine-Assisted Counseling at Rivendell Farm in Chittenango, NY. If you are willing to brave the winter cold, we are happy to join and facilitate sessions for you!
(Sessions must be purchased by January 1st and scheduled between January 15 — March 30 to be eligible for this offer. Limited to one free session per person. Contact Cindy at 315.289.2030 or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.)