Archive for January 31st, 2013

 

Brighid’s Thaw

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

snowdrops

Philip is deep in the creative process of writing his next book and has asked if I would help out by contributing a blog piece each week. This both excited and terrified me. Knowing what a tricky, slippery thing inspiration can be, I have fretted about having anything of value to say, finding the words, feeling confident that I have something to contribute.

Then I remembered that here in the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc is finally and thankfully upon us. It is traditionally seen as a festival of inspiration; it certainly feels a relief to be anticipating those first green shoots after a long, cold winter. And yet, the irresistible sense of anticipation felt as the year gradually accelerates can lead to many a false start when we realise that the chill still nips at us; that our energy still curls in upon itself, not yet fully awake to its own imminent renewal.

It is the time of snowdrops, their delicate blossoms deceptively resilient and hardy. They are the tenderness of all new beginnings; the toughness underlying life’s desire to experience itself. I can feel the quickening strongly and yet I also feel my own slowness; my own winter pace, heavy as upon waking from a long sleep. The year breaks us in gently, Brighid’s palms cupped tenderly around the spark that will soon ignite our inner resurgence.

Brighid comes with her warmth and energy and quickens the seeds of our new life; she comes with the life-giving heat of her fire to thaw all that is frozen and trapped within us; she comes with the melting release of her healing waters, cleansing away the staleness of our spirits, the winter debris of our hearts. She is the liberation of the land from winter’s grip; freeing us from our own stagnation. She is the bright spark of life and inspiration that burns in us all; the hearth fire at the centre of our homes and hearts, sustaining and warming – a place to gather and draw inspiration, nourishment and comfort. She is also the fire of passion that animates our creativity that we may create our world anew; that we too may become the spring.

In this spirit, I leave you with a poem for Imbolc and hope that the first tender shoots break through those icy coverings of stagnation, that you surrender your winter stasis to the quickening…

Winter had settled over me,
The frost sealing my eyes, my mouth;
My bones as ice,
Stilled
Beneath frozen water.
You came
And planted your sun like a seed in me,
Warm,
Precious,
Pearl of light,
And my being became the song of snow-melt,
A river-burst of birdsong
Rising.

At your touch my body is a garden
Of snowdrops;
This tender blooming
The greening of my soul.

Maria Ede-Weaving

Free-Ranging Cats Caused or Contributed to the Extinction of 33 Bird Species

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

750px-Redsilver_Maine_coon_Kittens

The post below has been one of the most viewed posts on this blog. It arouses anger in many people who love cats, and it is important to state that the report quoted by the BBC below has been critiqued. The BBC article stated that cats ‘have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species.’ But the article they were reporting on actually stated: ‘‘Domestic cats (Felis catus) are predators that humans have introduced globally and that have been listed among the 100 worst non-native invasive species in the world. Free-ranging cats on islands have caused or contributed to 33 (14%) of the modern bird, mammal and reptile extinctions recorded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.’
You can find the list here: http://www.iucnredlist.org/

To see the other side of the argument, look at:

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds  ‘Are Cats Causing Bird Declines?’
An article by Dr Laurie Huston on this question

To see a site that proposes banning cats in New Zealand to protect its wildlife see CatsToGo

From the BBC:

Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests.

The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.

Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists said stray and feral cats were the worst offenders.

However, they added that pet cats also played a role and that owners should do more to reduce their impact.

The authors concluded that more animals are dying at the claws of cats in the United States than in road accidents, collisions with buildings or poisonings.

The domestic cat’s killer instinct has been well documented on many islands around the world.

Felines accompanying their human companions have gone on to prey on the local wildlife, and they have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species.

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