As children, we spend a lot of time pretending to be other people.
It’s how we figure out how the world works. We start by pretending to be mommy or daddy. Then we expand to the grocer, the doctor, firefighters, police, nurses, veterinarians, schoolteachers, and rockstars. As we get older, our worldview expands, and we include more professions in our play. We read books and they inspire more complex play, as we not only take on specific roles, but take characters we love and resonate with into new situations of our own devising. My neighborhood growing up was frequently transformed into the Shire, Gondor, or Rivendell. I was in love with Aragorn decades before the movies ever came out, but I didn’t want to be Arwen. I wanted to be Aragorn. Go figger.
Unfortunately, play soon loses to practicality and busy-ness. But even so, we have opportunities to try different roles. In schools there are drama clubs, mock trials, jazz bands, sportsketball teams, debate teams and other activities that allow us to exercise our bodies, our intellect and our creativity while we exercise our imaginations in a socially approved and acceptable way. In high school and college, we have a chance to job shadow or intern in careers we think we would like to pursue, sometimes finding out we were completely wrong in thinking we’d ever like that shit. Good to find that stuff out early and move the hell on.
Most of us leave the fantastic stuff far behind as we plunge into the so-called real world and work our asses off at jobs. But we shouldn’t, because being able to step outside ourselves and take on a mythic role is an exercise in empowerment. Spiritual seekers frequently open
up to the higher frequencies of Archetypal beings, in order to receive guidance or instruction, communicate, co-create, lead rituals, do spells, or advance on our own spiritual paths.
Being able to switch “me” off and turn “other” on, is a skill well cultivated.
Every year as the holiday called Imbolc approaches, I find myself thinking about the Irish goddess Brighid, the goddess of poetry, healing a smithcraft, particularly thinking about how I can bring more of Brighid’s essence into the world. She’s not an easy one to wrap your mind around. Healing, smithcraft, and poetry? Huh? On the surface those things don’t even remotely go together. So let’s do what we always do, and turn our mythic lens on the world around us, and speculate about who and what Brighid embodies that we can make relevant in the lives we are living here and now. (If you are unfamiliar with the holiday, my friend Mike Nichols has an essay here that I couldn’t possibly improve upon.)
The unifying element across all Brighid’s powers, is fire. Fire is used in the healing arts, in blacksmithing and any metallurgy, and symbolically in all forms of inspiration, from poetry to painting to songwriting, filmmaking, writing murder mysteries or science fiction, photography, web design, jewelry making, sewing, pottery, gourmet cooking, you name it. Any creative thing involves inspiration, even quantum physics, chaos theory, astronomy, and yes, rocket science and brain surgery. Brighid’s energies are strongly woven through our world, so clearly and in such comforting ways, that it takes only a moment’s thought to see them everywhere.
Brighid’s physical description is also very firey, with her red hair, her physical strength, her personal warmth, and her great vitality. She embodies the flames she represents by being a warming, inspiring and healing presence. There are many women and men in the world, red-headed or not, who resonate to this archetypal frequency and spread well-being, inspiration and joy wherever they go.
A big part of Brighid’s mojo has to do with fertility and birth, though she herself is said to be a ”virgin.”
She was foster-mother to many, but never bore any children of her own. Being able to create something out of something else, or something out of nothing, is what makes her a fertility goddess. To create an inspired work of art or music, to design and sew a magnificent gown, to start an inspired business doing what you love, to create something that fills you with satisfaction, that’s pure Brighid-mojo.
The virgin thing needs to just stop, now and forever for fuck’s sake, seriously. Virgin means to be whole, complete, sovereign. That’s it. Brighid is a whole woman, a complete woman, a sovereign woman. She does not have a “master,” she is her own. She never subjugated herself to a man, but that doesn’t mean she never got her rocks off. There are people who think Brighid may have loved women, and that makes a lot of sense, too, but like with anybody else, it’s really nobody else’s business. Brighid embodies independence and interdependence. She may well have shared her life with a lover (or lovers), but she was never diminished by it. Nor, we hope, were any of her loves. Knowing Brighid even the little bit I do, I cannot imagine her dominating, controlling, or trying to stifle anyone. She is the Goddess of Inspiration, after all.
Imbolc is also the beginning of the season we call Spring.
It may still look like winter, but everywhere you look are signs that Spring is inevitable. It doesn’t get dark at 4:00 in the afternoon for starters. It was light until after 5:30 today, and Imbolc is still a few days away. We’re having very spring-like weather here in the Midwest right now, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s with alarming frequency, and lots of drizzle and rain. It’s January but we had a thunderstorm last week, and there are mosquitoes on my deck. But #noclimatechangehere, no sir. (Can I get an “eesh” from the peanut gallery?) I try not to get too excited about the warm temps, because what goes up, must come down, and this wildly swinging pendulum we are on may just come barreling back this way and bite us hard.
How can we embody more Brighidness, now and through the year?
There is a lovely tradition of leaving a warm cloak outside on Imbolc night, and asking Brighid to bless it, so when the cloak is worn one puts on the Goddess and embodies her blessings. It’s a metaphor, of course, but there’s no harm in leaving a coat out for Brighid if you are so inclined. Thereafter, when you wrap yourself up in that coat or sweater, consciously remember the blessing, and feel Brighid’s love and warmth flowing into you. Then when you step out into the world, you will have the mindset of love, of grace, of generosity, of healing, of inspiration. You will draw more creativity to yourself, and inspire it in others. Your presence will become healing to others. It is a truly wonderful little mini-ritual that takes little preparation yet yields fantastic results.
But otherwise, think sometimes about what Brighid would do in a situation. Remember those old WWJD bracelets? Think What Would Brighid Do instead. Having a reminder to bring your best, most lovingly empowered, tenderly vital, gracefully inspired self to every situation is a very good thing. No, we can’t be all that all the time. There are moments when it’s all one can do to get out of the chair and be civil to people, I get it. But other times, to bring that kind of grace and power into your daily life creates all kinds of miracles everywhere. And we can all use a few miracles right now.