I belong to Cauldron Cill, a flamekeeping group (no, not that kind of Flamekeeping) dedicated to the Gaelic goddess Brighid. Known by many names – the Scottish Bride, the Continental Brigantia, the Catholic St. Brigit – Brighid is a fiery triple goddess of healing, smithcraft, and poetry, the flames of inspiration as well as the fires that burn brightly in every home’s hearth. In a flamekeeping group, members take rotating shifts over a 20-day period to keep Brighid’s flame – lighting candles, saying prayers, perhaps wearing special jewelry – with the Lady Herself taking the shift on the 20th day. Last night my shift began, and a few hours ago it ended. And wouldn’t you know, I have some experiences and musings I’d like to share with you.
I’m sure it’s not an accident that whenever a Cill shift comes up – one that I don’t forget about, at any rate – there’s almost always some sort of psychological or interpersonal hurdle I need to struggle with. The number of shifts that have coincided with, say, Serious Talks With The Girlfriend is rather amusing at this point. During said Talks – whether we talk about me, her, us, or the relationship – things that desperately need to be said get said, emotions are released that have been bottled up for way too long, and eventually, no matter how painful the process, we’re always at a better point after the shift than we were going into it.
The half-buried demon I got to confront this go round had nothing to do with my girlfriend and everything to do with me: my chronic and debilitating procrastination. Go ahead and laugh, I know it sounds silly. It’s like the erectile dysfunction of my age group. No matter how somber or scientific it makes you seem and no matter how many professionals assure you that it’s quite common for someone your age, fessing up to it is usually met with a round of giggles. But when I use words like “chronic” and “debilitating,” I don’t use them lightly. I have a serious underlying problem that manifests as procrastination (along with a whole host of depression and anxiety issues) to the point where I’m not even enjoying my self-imposed distractions – I’m feeling trapped by them.
Actually, dear readers, I am seriously contemplating a return to therapy. It’s gotten to the point where I’m not attending to life goals and plans, living in an incredible mess of a room, and generally feeling completely out of control when it comes to my own life. I am very tired and drained right now – my mental spoons, as it were, are almost out. Thanks to Thanksgiving (see what I did there?) today was also the first day in more than a week that I was alone for any extended period of time. To be honest, the loneliness and anxiety were really getting the better of me, and it felt like my Cill shift was an excellent opportunity for me to invite Brighid to see me at my worst.
All this said, I don’t this post to be me only whining about my day (let’s save that for LiveJournal), so I’m going to dig deep down and come up with A Lesson. Today’s takeaway is that sometimes, life sucks. Life sucks and it’s rough and you fall off the bike and get all banged up and muddy, and that happens. I don’t have the luxury of waiting to feel spiritual, calm, and centered before practicing my religion. Some days my gods will just have to shop in the “as is” department – and that’s okay.
As much as this flamekeeping Cill is a spiritual practice that I myself chose, it also ostensibly has to do with the other Person in this relationship. The same way we can’t (perhaps even shouldn’t) always avoid close friends and family when we’re at our worst, we also can’t chose to approach our gods only when we’re 100% in the zone, focused, ritually pure, and zenned out on the sublimity of the cosmos.
Well. I guess we could make that choice. But we wouldn’t exactly spend much time with our gods then, would we?
As a Pagan, my religion expression is often more about doing than believing. It is the physical action, the experience of and from the mundane, sensual world that informs my spirituality, rather than starting from a place of doctrine and creed. This gives me both the opportunity and the challenge of being spiritual when I don’t always feel spiritual. Or perhaps a better way of putting this would be that I have the opportunity to redefine spirituality to include all the vexations and stumbling blocks in my life. My candles, incense, and fresh-cut flowers are as much as part of my religion – the religion of my life, the only one I can ever practice – as messy rooms, looming deadlines, and wonky brain chemistry.
I’m sorry for the scattered thoughts tonight. I’m tired and grumpy, and I’m sorry this post didn’t have more to do with Brighid proper. However, knowing her, everything is being secretly taken care of behind the scenes. Even when – especially when – it feels like it’s careening out of control.