We celebrated Imbolc Friday night with a beautiful ritual among kind friends. The ritual impressed upon me additional elements of the holiday that hadn't stood out to me before. Imbolc is Brigid's day, goddess of hearth, home, healing waters, light, inspiration, poetry, and even smithing. She's a triple goddess and with her sisters shares these skills and gifts. We honored Brigid with candlelight, poetry, blessed water, and new spring plants.
I'm not usually very attached to or inspired by particular gods and goddesses. They tend to feel flimsy to me; spent inventions belonging to another people and another time. But the character of Brigid reached me last night both as an icon imbued with things that are important to me and as a messenger bearing news about something about which I am very vulnerable and unsure. Brigid told me that I am a writer. She would know... as a goddess of inspiration, poetry, and intellect. The message came with clarity and courage in my heart to keep putting words together about what I feel, know, and experience.
Brigid's message carried another insight too. She convinced me of the significance and power of knowing your gods and goddesses. I still don't perceive supernatural entities hanging out in the ether guiding, protecting, or judging us. I don't experience divine presence that way (if at all). But I do recognize the utility and power of recognizing and committing to strong characters holding and exemplifying our highest values. They provide models, guides, examples, good company as we navigate change and confusion, celebrate our arrivals into new good places in our lives, and generally strive to live well with each other.
For years now I've played with the metaphor of the madwoman in the attic, where God is the madwoman. Inherent to that metaphor has been my own struggle to perceive a divine feminine. An aspect of the madwoman has been the male God in women's clothing. I couldn't shake the masculine deity of my formative faith. But through the icon of Brigid, within the ritual's meditation, I recognized and felt the madwoman as her own distinct feminine sacred self. And with the new beginnings of Imbolc, I committed this year to knowing her character and committed my writing to her. What does this mean? I'm still translating the feelings of that night into meaning and action, but it's something about mercy, creativity, release rather than rules, love rather than laws, sharing my struggle, celebrating each tiny success, and knowing the sacred and holy in the good company of other people.