Bheur, or Beira, the Queen of Winter in Scottish mythology – a name of the Cailleach, Hag aspect of the Triple Goddess, is still ruling the season during February and into March. Our celebrations of the Maiden Brigit at Imbolc (Feb 1st) were marking the promise of Spring, not its actual arrival. Snow drops – and sometimes freezing weather and actual snow – remind us that before the rising sap of Spring comes one last dose of winter ‘inner’ time. Beira the hag shows up with her icy fingers and sends us scurrying back into our caves, where healing, recharging and transformation can happen, sends us back into hibernation for one last deep dip into the darkness before the growth season kicks off.
The Scottish legend of Beira tells us she held the maiden Brigit captive in an attempt to prevent Spring arriving and keep us in eternal Winter. I think too that we humans can get very excited by the sense of renewal and promise at Imbolc and then suffer when we discover the winter journey isn’t over yet. Legend tells us that people hoped for a cloudy, wintry Imbolc as a bright sunny one indicated that another sharp blast of Winter would follow – which is exactly what we getting in 2018.
There are three months to the Winter season, each with its own elemental flavour, but underlying them all is the earth element. Winter is the earth time – of dormancy, of retreat, of inner reflection and healing. If we do not allow enough of this energy into our lives, nature makes us sick with colds and flu to force retreat upon us.
As well as the underlying earth element, during Capricorn month the Sun gives us more earth vibrations, during Aquarius it is in air element, and during the last blast of Winter the Sun in Pisces is bathing us in water element. Earth and water are affected by gravity, they draw us into ourselves – whereas air and fire give us energy to rise, expand and even fly. So it is often during the last weeks of winter that we really feel the gravitational effects of the season, coming after the light and promise of Aquarius, and we feel them through our emotional bodies due to the influence of the Piscean spirit.
Pisces takes us into all our emotions – into our share of the universal as well as our personal feelings, which means any darker, heavier ones lurking around in our energy field will be making themselves known. The trick is to accept them, welcome them, and understand that experiencing them is an inevitable part of being alive! We accumulate emotional energy during the year and this is the month we can go into it, feel it – and release it, ready for a new start in the Spring. Hopefully the powerful air energies of Aquarius have given us some detachment and perspective, which we can draw on to do this inner work for ourselves.
For despite the inward energy pull of the winter, the frequencies of the cosmos at this time are actually collective, universal. (A powerful lesson here – universality, like divinity, is found within, not by searching outside ourselves). Capricorn loves to bring people together to share good earthy times, remind us we are part of a family or community, while at the same time demanding we make the necessary, practical steps to adjust to living in the Winter climate and energy. Aquarius lifts the mind into noble ideals of universal love, humanitarianism, idealism and an understanding of our place in the whole – and Pisces opens the way to feel our part in that whole, it points to compassion as the recommended way to meet the world around us, for everyone on earth has their share of the universal energies of sorrow, loss and suffering, as well as the potential for infinite joy and liberation.
During the Pisces solar month the full moon occurs in the opposite sign of Virgo, the energy of which balances that of the fish. Pisces encourages us to accept life as it is, to surrender to it and be part of the flow. Virgo gives us the will and the impetus to take steps to make life, for ourselves and others, better. Virgo full moon can pull us out of the mire of overwhelming feelings through finding our direction and purpose, and affirming our intentions for the Spring and Summer, the more outward and active time of the year, which is just around the corner now. As Bheur the Hag Goddess delivers one last blast of Winter energies the way to make the most of it is to dive right in. Get under the duvet, read that book, go into dreamtime – get some cave comfort, for time to get out in the world will soon be here again.
Does not every season prove
That the acorn hits the ground?
Have I not known enough of love
To know it’s lost as soon as found?
I drank my fill of wine with kings,
Their eyes fixed on my hair.
Now among the stinking hags
I chew the cud of prayer.
Time was the sea
Brought kings as slaves to me.
Now I hear the face of God
And the crab crawls through my blood.
I loved the wine
That thrilled me to my fingertips;
Now the mean wind
Stitches salt into my lips.
The coward sea
Slouches away from me.
Fear brings back the tide
That made me stretch at the side
Of him who’d take me briefly for his bride.
The sea grows smaller, smaller now.
Farther, farther it goes
Leaving me here where the foam dries
On the deserted land,
Dry as my shrunken thighs,
As the tongue that presses my lips,
As the veins that break through my hands.
Excerpt from The Old Woman of Beare, anonymous c 800CE, Irish Gaelic; trans. Brendan Kenneally