Fast forward a few years and I've completely wandered off my spiritual path. I'm bouncing hither and yon and I come across a blog entry about Imbolc. For those not in the know, Imbolc is the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It was celebrated by Pagans in Western Europe before Christianity got a good foothold and it's celebrated by Pagans now. It's a fertility holiday, one that honors the sheep and cows who have recently given birth, the bees that make honey, and the animals that are still sleeping but will soon wake. No, it's not coincidence that Imbolc and Groundhog Day happen either on the same day or close to it. Groundhog Day? Not only a great movie featuring Bill Murray and a not-wooden Andie McDowell, but also a pretty much pagan free-for-all. Woooohoooo!
Imbolc also honors Brigid.
To be clear, I don't worship Brigid. At this point on my path, I don't worship any god, but I do find many that resonate with me and she's one of them. A complicated goddess--a two-sided, three-aspected deity who watches over midwives and soldiers, who is found in doorways and high hilltops--she is a reminder, for me, of the complexity of women and the power of words and of the softness of spring.
She is a goddess of amethyst (found in my engagement ring), of daffodils (found in my memories of the first sign that winter will be over soon), of whistling and candles and embroidery (found in...uh...me.)
Plus, I mean, she's associated with the number nineteen. What does that even MEAN? I don't know, but I find it obscurely awesome. I can sort of picture her, red-haired and doing cross-stitch with her feet up on the table while the gods dole out numbers and associations.
"I claim heather. Oh, and the number nineteen," she says.
"Dude, what? Why?" (This from Hermes, who has always talked like this.)
She lays down her embroidery and starts cleaning her fingernails with the knife she just forged. "Because I can. Dude."
Oh, I love me some Brigid. Love her so much that a few months ago, she inspired a poem. THIS is what I feel about writing. THIS is why I keep hugging trees and arguing politics and dreaming of better things.
Happy Imbolc, y'all. Hope you are INSPIRED today.
Prayer to Brigid (Dreaming of Inspiration and Greatness)
I want my words sharp as a snake’s tongue
sharp as a bee sting
pulled and beaten fine over a fire
that would melt the world itself
if you gave me half a chance.
Give me your fire.
I’ll fashion an arrow that will
slice so finely a hole in their hearts
that they’ll not notice it
when the darkness runs out
‘til they are empty of all but light,
stumbling silly like lambs
through a wildflower field.
Give me your fire
and I’ll take the arrow from the oak
where it lodged.
I’ll melt it down to nothing but sharpness
and use white thread
to sew up their hearts
so the lightness stays in.
Give me your fire.
I’ll make a torch of rushes,
touch it to the flames.
I’ll carry the light up into the hills.
I can reach the highest one by daybreak.
With the sun behind me,
I’ll hold up your fire,
so that from below,
fire and sun seem one and the same.
And they will wake up,
empty and full of light,
stepping over the threshold
into a new world.