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Brigid, goddess of the land of Eire and muse

December 6, 2013

We’ve just enjoyed spring here in Melbourne and I wanted to write about the parrots, which flock here for the glowing gums in their raucous, riotous, flashing colors and noise. But something else came up and I was reminded of a spring ritual back in Ireland, of my pagan roots, of what we owe to the spirit of the sacred feminine for our lives here on earth.

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I had placed a cross up for Imbolc, the start of February in the Georgian calendar, when the ewes’ bellies swell with spring pregnancy in the old agricultural cycle.

She sat above the fireplace and I knew I had to pray for letting the original one fall apart from being knocked off the edge of the railing of our stairs inside. When this old reed cross fell apart I threw the pieces in the fire and sacrificed it to the flames, knowing it was probably a heinous crime in the view of the old folk, sensing her association with water – we’d visited Brigid’s well, near the Cliffs of Moher, and the tinkling of the stream as it rose and delved back underground made me certain she was here as pagan goddess well before she was owned by the Christian cult, for their own purposes and people, who speak so little to me – but burning it nevertheless.

Was I an ignorant worldling ruining the world in an act of self-immolation that takes far too long and requires the suffering of far too many other creatures and even the death of the land itself before it finally wakes, horrified, out of its own self-involved play of shadows? I asked, out of guilt, what I should do about this act of destruction, sensing something wrong with the humble little cross that now sat, asking nothing, above the scene of the crime.

Ask forgiveness, she said plain and true. Expect nothing but honestly admit, if you seek guidance. ‘Fess up, sit tight, and shut up. So I did. And here’s what happened:

One: The Prayer

Nothing more than honest intent. Palms together, fingers at third eye on forehead, actually meaning sorrow at having dismissed her from our requesting humbly that she return for the new reed cross (it’s more in the shape of a swatiska, ancient symbol of eternal change, not upright like the Christian version), asking for no boon but her grace upon the earth.

Two: The Answer

All that stuff you are thinking about, just leave it behind, and come here to the shores of refreshment, where the paradigm is washed up dissolved and reset in endless waves of being and becoming, a salty tang of recognition, not an answer in the sense of concrete response or resolution, but the question reframed so as to make it seem irrelevant, the next stage opened out to new vistas of contemplation, offering new ways of considering old quandaries, placing existing conundrums into more enlightening frames, which themselves exist only so long as they allow the enrichment of the sense of wonder and appreciation, then dissolving in turn to the sea out of which they come, only to reshape again and come crashing at your feet as waves of fresh realization, to reappear ad nauseam, to come again and again until we keep them in mind and need no longer to be reminded of this shore and its lesson in forgetfulness and memory.

Three: The Ever-open Ritual

Repeat. Bearing in mind that the only concrete rule is intent. Integrity of approach. Generally, not seeking anything for self, but wishing the best for her dwelling upon the earth, flourishing for all beings, clear night skies and awe at the majesty of the cosmos as well as the small things about us here on earth. Reminders, constant, so that the shores are kept close. Leave Narcissus behind with his Echo; she only returns in new forms, right now as ever but with a fresh harmony, the air of a never-to-be-repeated musical acknowledgement of the moment. Nothing stale, inwards gaze leading to new vistas, not contemplation of the same old dullness of human self-involvement. In to go out. Looking about and recognizing the self, made open-ended, all of us everywhere.

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