Thursday, February 11, 2010

mirror

Since February 1st was St. Brigid's Day, and this week's Theme Thursday is "mirror" I'm taking the liberty to post this piece again. St. Brigid is, after all, the patron saint of poets, so she would be pleased, don't you think? Hmm, I don't know, is there a patron saint of mirrors? She must be the saint who protected Snow White!



Time Travel



Deep in the mirror,
her eyes meet mine
in the glow of her low
ceilinged room.

Ancient mother,
tends the hearth,
smoors the fire,
rakes my dreams
of earthy peat.

Her besom prayers
kindle bright,
while sacred three
light my night.

Then beckons me
with withy broom,
sweeps circled heaps
of embers,

St. Brigid offers solace
in her cinders.



willow, 2009


to my ancient grandmother, Anne Mackie, 1580, Galloway



"Smooring the fire" is an artistic and symbolic ceremony performed by the woman of the house before retiring for the night. A ritual blessing, recited over the fire in Gaelic is called "smaladh"; in Scottish, "smooring". The embers are evenly spread on the hearth and formed into a circle, which is then divided into three sections, with peat laid between each.

As a prayer to St. Brigid, the first peat is laid down in name God of Life, the second in name God of Peace, the third in name God of Grace. The circle is then covered over with ashes sufficient to subdue, but not to extinguish, the fire in name of the Three of Light. You might remember seeing this lovely tradition performed in the movie The Secret of Roan Inish.

This also makes me think "smores", the traditional campfire treat, consisting of a layer of roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker, doesn't come from "s'more" or "give me some more", but rather from the tradition of smooring the fire. Maybe the correct spelling should actually be "smoors"? This is making me drool. Where'd I hide that last Ghirardelli square?

Just so you know, a "besom" is a broom made of a bundle of strong flexible "withy" or willow stems. How appropriate.


For more Theme Thursday participants click [HERE].

76 comments:

  1. i love the ritual of smooring, thanks for sharing it again.

    much love

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  2. "Roan Inish" is a beautiful film, isn't it? You know I have never had a smoor (or s'more)?

    Been meaning to ask you if you've ever seen "Tunes of Glory" with Alec Guinness and John Mills and Susannah York? It was always my dad's favourite, so I've seen it many times. I noticed it on TCM the other week and thought of you when I started to watch it again. It holds particular warmth for me as my dad went to great lengths to find us a copy one year.
    If you haven't seen it, make sure you do!

    Kat

    P.S. I've been keeping tabs on your exciting new Magpie Venture and will contribute when I can.

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  3. Kat, no, I can't believe I'm not familiar with Tunes of Glory. I adore both Alec Buiness and John Mills. I'm popping over to the TCM schedule right now to see if they're playing it again any time soon. Thanks for the heads up!

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  4. What a wonderful ritual, putting the embers to bed. Love it!

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  5. I love this post! The poem is moving, and I hadn't heard of the word smoor... What a musical, wonderful word.

    And I do wonder who might be the saint of the mirror... hmmm. A thought worth bending the brain around.

    Blessings!

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  6. New to me; and I come from an other ancient land, pagan and christian all mixed up and dished out now and then. Lovely customs. Thank you for unearthing them and gifting us.

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  7. A beautiful ritual to be returned to again and again.

    I do not know if there is a patron saint of mirrors. The closest I have been able to find is the patron saint of glass makers, none other than Luke the Evangelist. The name Luke means the bringer of light, and the saint is said to have been a painter and to possibly have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, so he may be a good candidate for patron saints of mirrors.

    Bringing of light, St. Brigid, mirrors, poetry, portraits, a sacred threelight hearth ... quite a nice kaleidoscope of embers to while away the night ...

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  8. I'm glad you re-posted this poem...beautiful the first time and still the same today. Haunting in the words of blessings and the hearth.

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  9. Smores... yummy... a night time snack for sure.. under the stars and a campfires warmth. Great tribute, Willow. :) The Bach

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  10. I love this, Willow! I had no idea that was where the word "s'more" came frome :) And I've been meaning to watch "the Secret of Roan Inish". I'll have to request that be put in our que.

    Happy Wednesday,
    Jen

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  11. I'm suddenly in the mood for smores!

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  12. Willow,

    You have a wonderful way of mixing various subjects into a delightful dish. As St. Brigid is my patron saint, I'll be saving your poem in my "favorite quotes and sayings" folder ~ thank you!

    And, I appreciate the history lesson; if you don't already have a copy of Alexander Carmichael's collection of ancient prayers, charms and hymns, from the British Isles, titled "Carmina Gadelica" , spoken of here:

    http://dailyweaving.blogspot.com/2008/03/carmina-gadelica.html

    I think you'd really enjoy it.

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  13. Don't think I was on board as yet, for this one...it's beee-yoo-ti-ful!

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  14. I too love the nightly ritual of smooring...comforting so very comforting!

    To LIFE! To PEACE! To GRACE!

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  15. i have a nightly ritual of snoring...and i cant turn away a good s'more!

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  16. Brian, ritual SNORING! Not only did that make me giggle, I let out a loud squawk!!

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  17. Hello Willow,

    You never fail to delight and amaze me with your beautiful words. Speaking of Chocolat-Have you tried Chocolate Mexicano Taza Chocolate? If not you're in for a treat. The Choclate is stone ground and organic, and comes in at least three flavors-Salted Almond, Chili and Cinnmon. Once you try it you'll be spoiled for other brands. Or at least I am.

    Cheers,

    Marjorie

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  18. Good Lord! I love your use of language!

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  19. I enjoyed reading this re-do again...was that statement redundant?

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  20. Ooo, Marjorie, I am going to look for the Taza chocolate. Chili would be my choice! Mmmmmm.

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  21. LLL, St. Luke? Interesting. I must read up on him, especially since Im nutty about all kinds of glass! Thanks for the scoop, my friend.

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  22. I actually knew what a besom is in fact. thanks for the explanations. I got lots of them as it turns out. nice.

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  23. We could all use a bit more life, peace and grace...Lovely poem, and thanks for the re-post as I had not seen it the first time...

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  24. a withy broom; i was pretty sure that wasn't a typo...now I know! Cool.

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  25. delightful and so beautiful. portrait, poem and prayer

    thank you for sharing this history and meaning of smooring

    the secret of roan inish is one of my all time favorite films....and I haven't seen it in a few years, but lucky for me either I (or daughter em) as a dvd of the film (upgrading the earlier vhs copy!!) thanks for reminder

    yum, s'mores

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  26. Being the foodaholic I am, I'll chose smores over smooring, but I loved the story.

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  27. i recognized Crisfield, Md in your "my peeps"... Patty and i shot a bride together in Marion last summer.

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  28. So beautiful, one of my all-time favorites.

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  29. Snow White should have taken out a hit.

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  30. Beautiful in the unraveling of the poem and the words behind it.

    I will never think of smores the same way again, or rather, smoors.

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  31. Besom...a new word for me.

    Lovely poem Willow.

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  32. How interesting. You do know do much. Happy TT a bit early.

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  33. How interesting. I wonder where I could get some peat?

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  34. Lovely poem, Willow, I hadn't seen it before. I haven't seen "Roan Irish" but I have added it to my Netflix queue. I've moved it to the top of the list.

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  35. smores?
    did someone say smores???
    i remember that poem and loved it the first time.

    xx

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  36. mmmmmmm delicious choice of words. I'm thinking that Saint Clare might be the patron of mirrors. Her visions made her the patron of television!

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

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  37. Well this is so good of course it merits another post:)...You know my Celt blood is loving this!


    I love "The Secret of Roan Inish", too..ah..think I'll head over to Netflix to put that at the top of my queue:)

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  38. This is a stunning poem -- I, too, have written about the movie Roan Innish as it was the last movie I saw before I gave birth to my first child almost fifteen years ago. She is a water child, a selkie, and the theme runs through her life.

    Your words are resonant and beautiful and I thank you for posting them.

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  39. What a divine tradition, literally!

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  40. Glad that I didn't miss this poem. It's so good. Today, the hearth doesn't have the same significance for many people. Life would surely be the richer for traditions such as 'Smooring the fire'.

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  41. lovely work...did snow white really need protection! i think she sort of holds her own...catchy header by the way!!

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  42. I,m Glad It's not just Me......Looking into a Mirror & seeing a 'relative' staring back! Sometimes a Mirror is a visual history book.Non?
    A Mirror shows us there is always s'more to come.

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  43. I've never had a smore!

    I love the idea of looking through deep, into the eyes of another, in a mirror.

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  44. Lovely poem and ritual. I love reading about the old superstitions.

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  45. Really beautiful poem Willow, I must have missed it the first time and I am so glad you re-posted it. And the use of the word "besom" reminded me of my old auntie Annie who used to always refer to a "besom brush". I had forgotten all about that. Good poetry can open so many doors within the memory.

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  46. I loved it the first time, and and appreciate it even more this time around. Timeless! -J

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  47. I remember this poem from the first time you posted. I loved it then and I love it now. Thanks for reposting.

    And Tunes of Glory is a wonderful movie, although I think it was 30 years ago when I last saw it.

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  48. Happy TT Willow...thanks for stopping by.....

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  49. Fiona! I'm yer seester!!

    Forgot all about that great movie. I should put it in the queue.

    Thanks for the mirror presentation of your beautiful poem and for explaining the fire ritual. So cool.

    We humans are quite creative, when we want to be. Reverent, too ... when we feel like it!

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  50. Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed your post and had to re-read it after your explanation. I have a new appreciation for smooring fires. Giggle. Love the imagery of the whole piece.

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  51. Lovely piece of personal history and a tradition well worth preserving.

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  52. I hadn't seen this, so thanks very much for posting it! Snow White, Cinderella, Ancient Mother, the Trinity of Light, St. Brigid - I love how you trace the real connections between all these - truly inspiring. And the mirror as expressing the encounter between self and other, finding the place where the infinite meets the individual - an awareness connecting the sacred with the everyday, tending the fire. Lovely!

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  53. I was going to ask what smooring was. Beautiful poem!

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  54. That was a great poem and smooring the fires seems like something that was done out of love for one's family. Great story telling of it's history. I really enjoyed it. It is always nice to learn of new things and I love all things history.

    Thank you again, Happy TT.

    Oh I have now posted a list of Haiku for my TT, sorry they were not up when you visited earlier. I'm coming down with something and not feeling well. I hope you enjoy them. I am just now beginning to learn how to Haiku, so would like to know what you think.

    God bless.

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  55. I have not heard that word smooring before - nor heard of St Brigid!

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  56. Nice.

    In fact, you could become our patron saint of mirrors - after all, you're very reflective.

    ;-)

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  57. I enjoyed your poem...and you look maahvelous in that mirror : )

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  58. ....what can I say...i loved it...

    and am looking for that chocolate that Marjorie mentioned...hmmmm

    always enjoy my visit here, willow

    sending love
    kary
    p.s.
    i made lasagna in the skillet last night and thought of you and wished you were here
    xxx

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  59. A lovely poem & some great background info. I love "besom prayers."

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  60. An excellent poem, with many fascinating and new words for me to look up. Smooring sounds a lot like the Native American sage smudge pots an ancient "air freshner" so to speak. The spiritual sense of our ancients is difficult to conceive today as ritual is replaced with routine.ps I did want to mention Lady of Lourdes is also celebrated today; the Lourdes France grotto having divine healing powers. Got to get smooring! Godiva?

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  61. Brigid, goddess of fire, and creation alike. A wonderful poem. i will have to come here more often.

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  62. My Darling Willow, Sooo Beautiful I never knew that. I must see This Roan Inish ....Talking about Choc. I love Dark choc..I'd love a campfire and you telling stories..

    maybe some day,,we get a bunch together..

    yvonne

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  63. I always wondered where the word s'mores came from!

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  64. Very appropriate, my friend.

    I love learning so much just by visiting you. And wait?! You have a square of Ghiardelli? Oh, be still my heart.

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  65. What a moving lovely poem-- rich with folklore and history-- thanks for explaining some of the word meanings.

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  66. Thanks, everyone, for your kindest comments! It was so nice of you not to mind a repeat post. xx

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  67. smooring...it's such a fun word to say, too!

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  68. Thanks for visiting my post this AM. I did not know my link didn't take until tonight when Subby left me a note asking where was my link?
    I signed up Sunday #26. Now I'm #77.

    Nothing wrong w/ reposting esp when it's as informative and entertaining as yours. I like mine but I like yours better. Very cool.

    Now on to your Conie recipe!

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  69. I am so glad you explained smoor because I loved the combination of smoor and raking your dreams and was pulled like magic--timeless--beautiful post-c

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  70. It's the simple daily things in life that are truly ritual. This is a beautiful piece.

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  71. Love you anecdotes.

    Also love the return of the Zhivago hat. ;)

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  72. Lovely poem and a lovely tribute
    to your "anciet" grandmother.

    Mine is here

    http://justmeshakirack.blogspot.com/2010/02/mirrors-of-my-life-thursday-theme.html

    HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
    and
    GONG XI FA CAI!
    (means WISHING YOU PROSPERITY! in Mandarin, Chinese)

    hugs
    shakira

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  73. Lovely I was just thinking that your blog is one of the most 'tasteful' and beautiful too look at, that I've come across. Q

    Ah it's summer here but soon we'll be lighting pile fires and enjoying Smores . .

    There's another lovely Irish film called Into the West. Completely off topic but quintessentially Irish legend woven into modern life. Delightful.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)