The Ritual Not Taken

I didn’t go to an Imbolc ritual today.

For once, I’m not going to follow that up by calling myself a bad pagan.

Because, see, here’s the thing. I know many wonderful people who think very highly of Brigid. I’ve read about her and I made a few clumsy attempts of my own to reach out to her back in the day. But she’s not a goddess I work with and time has proven that she’s not a goddess whose ritual I get much from. (It’s not like there’s a lot of variety in who gets called on for Imbolc.)

I recently began studying a practice called FlameKeeping (which is totally not Brigid-related) and one of the areas of emphasis I’m taking away from it is an emphasis on self-honesty and self-care. I find myself asking questions about my motivations and my needs that I’ve never really asked myself before.

This morning, I found myself asking questions about the ritual. Was I going to this ritual because I wanted to honor Brigid? No, not really. Like I said, I don’t have anything against her. Given another context, I could see myself wanting to honor her. I simply wasn’t in the mindset for it this morning. Was I going as a part of a community? Again, no, not really. I would like there to be one here, certainly. And maybe this ritual was the start of something, and I missed out.

I knew from the planning meeting that it was being led by an ADF member who is trying to get an ADF protogrove going in the area. Initially I was very excited about that idea; I liked the idea of an ADF protogrove.

But the more I thought about it… what I want is community in the fellowshippy kind of way. I’m tired of feeling like my only option for “community” is rituals to other peoples’ gods. I might as well be Catholic if I’m not caring who the deities we’re honoring are.

I’m not sure how to solve this. It’s internal; it’s something I have to work out for myself. Maybe the answer is the UU, or maybe it’s finding a Buddhist group, or finding some local Lokeans who want to get together to celebrate Ragnarok. All I know right now is that the answer is to keep looking.

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  1. If it helps at all: our marking of this holiday this year is pretty much holding the change of the seasons in our minds, in our awareness, while holding the awareness of our gods and spirits also in our awareness. There may be at some point tonight libations given, but Beth and I are pretty wrung out this week, so that will be the most that happens.

    That said: historically for us, this holiday is less Imbolc and more Ewemolc, and it’s not about Brigid. Because we’re a household wherein fiberarts holds a high place, Ewemolc is more about honoring Sheep (and other fiber-giving animas, by extension) and honoring the place that textile making had with our ancestors, and honoring the gods whose hands touch/ed textile making. Frigga takes her place, Frau Holde also. Because we are the household that we are, Poseidon gets mention, for His sheep connection. But it’s less about the gods and more about the animal spirits and the spirits of the tools — this is one of the times of year that Beth will often do her spinning wheel and other fiber processing tool blessing — her version of Charming of the Plough.

    We also have a newish festival honoring Bear, a Feast for a Fallen King, which is another tie into the seasonal cycle and is our way of honoring this King of the Forest who was eventually pushed out of common consciousness in favor of the lion as king of the animals.

    While I have all the world of affection and good-feelings for Brigid, She’s not one who is much in my awareness, but this weekend is not necessarily all about Her. There are others to honor; She does not hold sole dominion over this particular Mystery. (It amuses me: you say that one essentially cannot have Imbolc without Brigid, and I caught myself thinking, “Brigid has connection to Imbolc?” That is how far from my consciousness She is on this day.)

    I can relate so very much to being tired of “community” being about honoring other people’s gods. My solution for that was to make a calender of Poseidon festivals. It has not yet sated the desire for “community”. For me, I had to redefine what I wanted from community in order for that need to be sated. It isn’t to worship with, because it never will be, because people just do not care about Poseidon the way I do, wherein He is The Most Important part of my religious life and calendar.

    So. Er. Here’s to self-care, self-honesty, and tending to one’s needs!

    • Yeah, my point was more about all of the public rituals I’ve been to for “Imbolc” being about Brigid, especially the local ones I have available to me this year. I know there are other holidays to celebrate around this time of year, but it doesn’t seem like anyone celebrates them publicly, or at least I’m not running into them so it doesn’t do me much good. XD

  2. I went to a drum circle yesterday, but it wasn’t an Imbolc celebration per se. I didn’t do a Charming of the Plough/Disting yet either. The Pagan shop where my friends and I do ALL the things is very heavily scheduled during the first two weeks of the month. In the interest of self-care, we decided that it would be both bad to over schedule, and because of the nature of Florida’s seasons, the notion of Charming of the Plow is nice, BUT…Florida has no latent season. For that matter, I have fresh, local berries sitting in my refrigerator right now. If we were really going to charm the growing season for food, we should have done that back in November.

    The Wheel of the Year means fuckall in the tropics.

    So yeah, we’re doing our CotP/Disting later this month. There’s never a wrong time to honor the Disir (or any of your ancestors), if it’s part of your practice.

    • Haha, yeah, I see your point about the wheel of the year – when I was in Phoenix they all seemed kind of silly? Honoring the Disir is definitely good for any time of year.

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