Brighid, Keening and a Time of Crisis
In the days of keening, laments would be heard all year where people gathered to mourn loved ones. While many take their vows at this time of year and say yes to Brighid and yes to another year of living, there are those whose time isn’t to say yes as they have begun their journey onto the next world.
My grandmother was one of those who couldn’t say yes to another year of living at Imbolc and so took that journey with Brighid who birthed her into her next life. As with tradition, there was a wake with her body returned to the house in the coffin while neighbors came to visit. Keening was long gone by this time and the song for those days was the clinking of teacups on saucers and the rattling of rosary beads. I was a little taken aback when neighbors came over and lovingly touched her face and stroked her hair, for I had never seen a dead body before and my Grandmother looked different due to the makeup the Mortuary staff had used. The wake is an old tradition where the body is kept at home for three days after death – so that the person can adjust to being dead and know it’s time for them to leave this realm of the living and move on to what awaits them.
Keening Woman Workshop
This March I am offering a Keening Women Workshop here in Asheville, NC.
We will begin our day together by discussing what elements from the reading resonated with us the most. Then we will move onto our feelings of living in these times which I don’t have to tell you can be overwhelming. We will explore keening within the Spiral of Reconnection created by Joanna Macy so we can express feelings but ground them in a positive framework that helps us move past our grief and into making a commitment to bringing change in this world. We will begin by sharing our gratitudes for living on the earth in a shared gesture before moving into honoring our pain which we will do within a keening ritual. Next we will undertake a guided meditation and shamanic journey to ask the advice of our ancestors and future beings for our personal role we walk in the world. Then we will spend time exploring this idea through art, journalling and collage – or perhaps you’d rather sit in silence, walk the labyrinth or just be in silence on the land.
Labyrinth with Hawk Guardian in Attendance
Creating Keening Dolls
In the afternoon we will make a Keening woman doll – she can be adorned with items which represent our own unique path and the work we do in the world. The doll is designed so she can hand on a wall or outdoors and we will discuss how to work with these dolls as well as each participant receiving a booklet on how to work with dolls.
While all doll making materials are provided participants are required to bring special natural objects, pendants or ribbons and yarns.