THE MAGIC OF THE SNOWDROP by Kleo Kay
as in Psychic Oracle online magazine - Imbolc 2013
It is the festival of Imbolc and this is the time that the great and good Goddess Brigit walks the land. When you are out and about, look for snowdrops. They will show you where the Goddess has been walking, as this brave and beautiful little flower will have sprung up in her footsteps.
Brigit travels the land healing and spreading good cheer. And
the snowdrop flowers in her wake, celebrating her divinity and bearing witness to her journeying.
Snowdrops are also known as Candlemas Bells, and Fair Maids of February, both of which connect them to their own time of year and to Imbolc. The
snowdrop is, of course, a flower that is sacred to Brigit. But it also carries its own stories and has
its own message to share with the world. It is a sign of returning life and a harbinger of spring. It symbolises hope reborn, sorrow passed and gone, and purity. It is the sleeping
earth’s remembered promise to us that she will awaken and be fruitful once more. Spring is coming and Gaia responds.
This unassuming little flower is so full of the passion for life that it is the first to recognise that the year is changing. The longest night is past, the days are lengthening and the snowdrop pushes up into the light to welcome in the spring. The white of the flower is a symbol of purity, its bell shape representing the feminine.
It is incredibly lucky and a sign of great good fortune to see snowdrops growing outside, as it represents the eternally renewing life force of the earth. It is, however, considered unlucky to have snowdrops within the house. They are thought to bring illness or death if it is before the 1st February, and are believed to block any new marriages and / or partnerships throughout the year if they are brought indoors between the 1st-14th February.
On reflection I can see four very good reasons why this is thought to be so unlucky. Firstly, it would be sacrilegious to take Goddess Brigit’s sacred flower. Secondly, by taking the harbinger of spring it could inhibit spring’s arrival and leave winter to reign unchecked. Thirdly, by taking the first symbol of returning life from its own environment to an artificial one, it could reverse the magical energies represented and turn good fortune to bad. And lastly, on a more practical note, they survive better in the cold conditions of the outside world, where they are perennials and will come back year after year. Cut flowers have already lost their lives, and planted in a bowl or pot they will probably be discarded once they have finished blooming, ending their natural lives.
If, however, for some reason, snowdrops are, or have been, inadvertently brought into your home you can negate any bad luck by dedicating the flowers to Goddess
Brigit. Light a candle to her, ask her forgiveness whilst explaining the circumstances, and ask for her blessing. All will be well, for she is a kind and loving Goddess. You should then remove
them as soon as possible, returning them to the outside world where they belong.
The snowdrop appears in several folk tales, and two are recounted below. The first one illustrates the snowdrop’s nature and the second is about the flower’s origins.
Way back in time, at the beginning, once the skies and the earth were in place, night and day had been born, and the celestial luminaries had self-created, thunder
arrived on the scene and it was love at first sight. Both volatile, their relationship was a tumultuous one. Before long their firstborns came along – twins that they named Rain and Snow. Nobody could tell the difference between the
two and this caused great confusion to all. Although the twins found it quite amusing for a while, eventually even they realised they had to do something about it.
So they went to the first ones, to great father and great mother, heavenly sky father and deep breasted earth mother, and asked what they should do?
Now, as it happened, Earth-Mother had just given birth to the flowers, and she was overjoyed they were so beautiful. Both Sky-Father and Earth-Mother were still
intoxicated by the beauty of these newborns, (some of their other offspring were rather challenged in their looks). They suggested that one of the twins should approach each of the flowers and see if
these blooms would be prepared to share their colour with them. Rain and Snow were both mostly transparent. Snow was slightly more translucent, but the difference was so negligible that only the twins themselves knew who was who.
So the twins drew lots and it fell to Snow to go and ask the flowers to share their colour with him. Snow travelled all day and all night asking every flower he saw if they would bless him with their colour, but the answer he kept receiving was no. Always no. And so it continued.
He worked his way through the red flowers, the orange flowers, the yellow flowers, the pale blue and the dark
blue flowers, the lilac and purple flowers, the pink flowers, and the white flowers. Finally, he asked the green leaves and the answer was always the same. No.
Disappointed, he walked away in despair, his head downcast. Then, by his feet he saw some tiny white flowers that he had never noticed before. They smiled up at him,
and it cheered him. His heart skipped a beat as he observed their pure beauty and innocent glory. In a humble voice he shyly asked
if they would be prepared to share their colour with him? Much to his surprise they smiled some more and said, “Yes, yes, of course.” The flowers and he bonded in that instant and their close friendship still continues to this day. And that is why
Snow is white, and the Snowdrop is named for him, and why you so often find these dear friends together.
Another story tells of a ruling monarch. He was old, and sat in his grand throne room reminiscing over his great deeds and revelling in his absolute power. The
windows were clothed in white drapes held by black tiebacks. The walls were shades
of grey; the floor was chequered in white and black spiralling patterns.
The great door opened and a young maid came in. She had golden hair and sparkling eyes. She came forward shyly yet eagerly, keen to talk with the great king. The
who had admitted her, and she responded that it was he himself who had allowed her in. He shook his head and frowned. She walked forward until she was standing next to him. “Well now you are here, what do you want?” he demanded with a roar. “I have heard tell that you have done great deeds and wanted to hear more of them”, she said. Her eyes were downcast respectfully, yet she glanced up mischievously every now and then. Pleased to have the opportunity to talk of himself to such a pretty young thing, his frown receded a little. "Let's see if you have ever heard of such great things before" he said with a flourish.
“We shall see” she responded, perhaps a little too quickly, a coy smile playing on her lips.
And so he told her of his deeds. “I tell water to be still and it
moves no more. At my word rivers and lakes freeze over. I am master of the silence and at my command the birds fall quiet. I wave my hand to dismiss them and they fly faraway to
bother my ears no more. The leaves fear me, trembling at sight of me and falling from the trees to hide from my gaze. I travel the land in my silver chariot and the land lies cloaked in white behind me. As I breathe, icicles are born and the earth hides its face to rest in the blessed stillness I bring. Tell me, are these not the greatest deeds you have ever heard of?”
“These are great things indeed,” she said. “Yet when I speak to the stilled water, it moves once more. And at the sound of my voice the frozen rivers and lakes melt.
The birds delight
in my presence and fly back from faraway to sing their songs to me. I have never seen a tree bare of leaves, for at my approach they put out new shoots and pale green leaves appear. I travel the land on my dancing feet and everywhere I go new life appears. I breathe warmth and joy into the land, and life and activity are reborn. Do these things not match your great deeds indeed?”
The king shook his head, and a tiny smile appeared at his mouth. And so as they talked all night he warmed slowly to her infectious joy and happiness, her deep love for all things thawing his cold and distant heart.
Morning dawned, and she rose to leave. As she turned her head, golden sunlight shot through the room. Through
the windows they could see that the trees were turning pale green and buds were opening. The birds sang, rejoicing in
the arrival of their new queen. Before she left, she and the king embraced for the briefest of moments. Then he was gone and all that was left in her arms was a whirling flurry of crystals and snowflakes. Yet even these in her loving embrace
metamorphosed and became snowdrops - the flowers that bloom whilst King Winter lingers, so that they are ready to greet the Spring Maiden as she returns to claim her throne.
So rejoice when you see the elegant little snowdrop peeping through the ground, and maybe the snow. For you know that the Goddess has passed this way and that the Spring Maiden is returning to fill our hearts with the joy of the new.