Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Imbolc Y'all!

Ok everybody, Happy St. Bridget's Day. Time to honor my puja to Bridget with a post!

I have spent the winter starting my own coaching business, working with special needs teens and young adults, and happily already have two clients. Yes I need more. I also needed a website (done!), marketing plan (done and evolving daily!), a business plan (done!), legal stuff (some done, some left to do), and a new phone (done!) Lots of hard work and hard planning. The coaching part is the easiest!

During this time of building and visioning, I have been following a mated woodpecker pair in my woods. Pileated woodpeckers abound here in SW Pennsylvania, loving the woods and streams of the Laurel Highlands. These are huge woodpeckers, too, 16 to 19 inches high, with a lovely red streak on their heads, and a call rather like a laughing hyena. I love them!

I see the woodpeckers most in the summer; they love the mulberries in my backyard, and flit from the woods in the hollow up to my yard, grab a berry, and fly back. They are huge, like crows with red, flying back and forth all day long on a June day. This winter, however, they have been hanging closer to my house, gathering daily in scrub woods at the back of my yard, and chittering together all day. I have been blessed to watch my pileated pair dancing in the trees! I called my local zoo to ask what pileated woodpecker dancing means, and they said that they had no idea. Ok.

So of course, with dancing woodpeckers in my yards, my augury spirit was called forth. What can dancing woodpeckers mean as a call from the universe or from Bridget?

There are numerous Pileated stories in First Nation myths: Pileated woodpeckers brought flutes and music to the Lakota; an Annishinabe tale credits the Pileated with helping a warrior defeat a giant, and the warrior put the giant's blood on the woodpecker's head in thanks. Woodpeckers beat out rhythm on trees, and are connected to drummers, music, and the heartbeat of the mother.

Woodpeckers are also hard headed. Their skull is reinforced with extra bone so they pound away at trees and find bugs, grubs and ants for food. Woodpecker bills are both tremendously strong and long enough to find insects. Woodpeckers don't sing to announce their presence, they pound instead.

For Cherokee teachings, woodpeckers are associated with discernment, learning to find truth, and knowing when to speak (pound on trees) or stay silent and still. Elder RedArrow calls Woodpecker the teacher of personal truth, persistence, hard work and honor. Woodpeckers have the ability to discern truth from lies, and to find hidden secrets with their excavations of trees for their nests.

While I spend this winter watching the pileated pair in my yard, I am holding hard to their message of persistence and hard work. I am building a new career that is flexible for my family, and hard work and following inner truth is something I am determined will pay off! Woodpecker, then, is leading me in hard work. As Elder RedArrow says: "Woodpecker is telling us that even if something seems difficult to do, not to give up. To do what works, even if it is unconventional. To set your own pace, your own rhythm."

My own rhythm is something I clearly appreciate! When I first read that woodpecker represents drumming, I was not sure how to understand this teaching. I don't like drumming; I like - no love - to dance to drumming! And I see myself as dancer and weaver and not drummer and musician. (Not that gazillions of musicians aren't part of my life!)

Yet Woodpecker augury for me this St. Bridget's day is a message of persistence. Of not giving up. Of hanging in there and following my own inner drummer. I am building so much these days, building a new life and new vision of my world, and every time I am tired and walk into my back yard, Pileated Woodpecker is there, calling me on, dancing in trees, laughing and calling me and pounding on for truth.

This Imbolc, I am listening to Woodpecker. And Woodpecker is telling me to listen to myself.

May you find this sacred day special and prophetic; may you find your inner voice in the fires to sacred Bridget; may you follow your path.

Happy Imbolc.

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