As my devotional work with Brighid deepens and I continue helping Clann Bhride grow and (one hopes) prosper, I’ve been thinking more of what it means to live a devotional lifestyle. In particular I’ve been musing over how one gets into such a lifestyle to begin with. My devotion to Brighid snuck up on me slowly over the years; as patient as Brighid has been with me to finally get it, I’ve had to learn extraordinary patience for myself and for the slow and steady unfolding of this practice.
Recently I’ve found it helpful to subscribe to a number of devotional polytheist and pagan blogs for reconnaissance on how others experience their devotionalism. At one point in my life this would have encouraged unfair comparison between myself and others’, particularly in how some practitioners have an easier time of hearing their Beloved and others do not. I have always been in, or always thought of myself in, the latter camp. For a good long while I thought I was a broken Pagan, unable to sense energy or hear the gods I tried very desperately to love. In hindsight I’m immeasurably grateful that my prayers from that place of desperation went unanswered, or that the answer was no. I’m in a mature enough place in my life and spirituality to not lust after the experience of being “god-bothered” anymore, or to attempt to judge my own religion’s validity on how many warm, fuzzy, and woo-woo feelings it invokes in me on a regular basis.
This lesson took a long, long while to sink in. The truth of the matter is that Brighid has always been willing to meet me wherever I’ve been, even if I’ve felt that I wasn’t ready or wasn’t worth it just yet. A relationship, after all, relies on the consent of both individuals involved even if one of those individuals is a bit more non-corporeal than the other. Whether I feel like I am worthy of Brighid doesn’t matter because She is more than capable of making Her own decisions about who She spends Her time and energy on. Whether I can or am ever able to hear or sense Her presence in the way I’ve craved for so long is, in fact, irrelevant to the relationship at hand. Perhaps how my body and mind process spiritual energy will shift over time; I’ve certainly had the sense of an opening up this year after so many radical changes in my life suddenly freeing up space and energy I’ve never had before. But attaining a specific kind of intimate union with the divine – incredibly informed both by my Baptist upbringing and my early experiences with Dianic Neo-Wiccans and practitioners of Goddess spirituality at college – is not the end goal of my religion anymore.
Brighid is my Beloved because I chose Her. I certainly had my own personal revelation where (for once) my woo-senses were tingling and I felt led to Brighid through the Lady of the Stars. But those feelings didn’t last long. Once I was going the right direction I was responsible for forging my own path with the tools I had already at my disposal. Things that I had once considered obstacles in having a spiritual life – my depression and anxiety, past emotional traumas, how I process energy – actually became the focal points of this devotional path. Self-care is an act of devotion. Pursing my passions is an act of devotion. Being as fully and wholly me as I can me is, in and of itself, the greatest act of devotion I know.
Had I known this years ago, would I be with Brighid today? There are certainly other deities who have been part and parcel of my life; Dionysus was incredibly important to me my first few years as a Pagan, and Loki has darted around the fringes of my attention for even longer. (Perhaps less fringe-y now that I’ve started dating a Loki kid and have felt it only polite to say hi to Him.) And it’s not that my devotion to Brighid takes up a tremendous amount of my time and energy. In fact, that’s exactly why I feel so comfortable falling into this role now. My devotion to Brighid overlaps so much with the rest of my life that it literally becomes as simple as breathing prayerfully, or cleaning dishes with Brighid in mind, or loving myself as She loves me.
Perhaps one day I will have another Beloved. Brighid has shown me there is an incredible amount of expansiveness and joy in my heart, which I once felt was cramped and worthless. That has been the greatest gift She’s given me: showing me that I am enough, I am loved, and that I am complete unto myself no matter how poorly I feel or how depression and anxiety like to nip at my heels. For now I am enjoying coming to the realization that somehow, almost without my notice, my life has found a focal point. Every day I choose to belong to Brighid, and I like to think that every day She chooses to belong to me as well.