Fires of Purification (retropost)

Note: I wrote this back in January, for the print and online magazine Immanence, which I helped birth in Powell River. I used to have a regular column called the Isis Crisis1, which focused on Goddess worship in the past and present. Each issue I would do an article on a particular Goddess, with some tips on how to incorporate Her into one’s everyday life. Written for the non-Pagan layperson, generally.

This is my article on Brighid and Imbolc, which I penned right before She thwapped me. It never made it into the magazine because of some miscommunication, so it’s only been seen by myself and the new editor of the mag. I was dithering about whether or not to post it here, and then decided it’d been a while since my last post and I had to put something up.


Fires of Purification: the meaning of Imbolc
by Morag Grayheart

Imbolc is on February 2nd. It is a Celtic fire festival dedicated to purification and the Goddess Brighid (also Bride, Brid, Brigit, Bridget, Ffraid, Mary of the Gael, and Saint Brigid). Brighid is thought to have originally been a Sun Goddess in Celtic myth. She is a Triple Goddess, ruling over the three aspects of Poetry, Smithcraft, and Healing: three forms of fire. In some Celtic traditions Fire is seen as the inspiration or spirit that exists with the three realms of Land, Sea, and Sky. Water and divination are also associated with Brighid.

Imbolc traditions are still celebrated today, and you too can honor Brighid and ask for Her blessing in your life.

One tradition that many people follow, even if they know nothing about Imbolc and Brighid, is Spring Cleaning. Now is the time to clear out the clutter of the winter months – as the days are getting longer and brighter, you can throw open your windows and doors and chase the cobwebs away. Also consider looking at this time for cleaning not only the house you live in, but your body, mind, and soul too. Take advantage of Brighid’s purifying blessing to clear your life of old paradigms, destructive habits or patterns, or even people. Cleaning your life out is a good way to start Spring, and you’ve got an Irish Goddess of Healing on your side for that added oomph.

To secure Brighid’s blessing for the coming year, consider putting out a piece of cloth onto a bush or a tree in your backyard (just make sure it’s secure, and not something terribly precious) on Imbolc Eve – February 1st. During the night Brighid travels around and touches the cloth left out for Her to bless. In the morning collect the cloth and divide it up into a piece for each family member. Carry your piece throughout the year for good health, strength, and creative inspiration.

If you want to get more involved, you can make a Brideog and some Brighid’s Crosses. The Brideog is a straw doll clothed in a white dress, traditionally made by the males of the family. Brighid’s Crosses are three or four-armed straw crosses and have several variations – one you may recognize is the “God’s Eye” they had us make out of popsicle sticks and yarn back in third grade. Please check the resource list at the end of this article for a link to a site that will tell you more about these crafts.

You can also make an altar to Brighid and give Her offerings – flowers and milk are appreciated, and I’ve heard on good authority that She likes French fries as well. Put representations of fire and water on your altar, and maybe a poem or too – She is the Goddess of the bards, after all. There are more ideas on the sites I’ve provided addresses to, but don’t feel limited – creative inspiration is incredibly important! If you feel something should go on the altar, go wild – it’s probably a subtle hint from the Goddess Herself.

Finally, Imbolc is the perfect time to do some divination, particularly if it’s about the welfare and prosperity of your family. If you’re curious as to how the year will fare for your loved ones, on February 2nd break out the Tarot cards, ask for Brighid’s blessing, and go nuts.

These, of course, are all suggestions, and non-compulsory. The important part of any holiday, whether it’s part of your traditions or not, is to do what makes you feel comfortable, and what is appropriate for your life and situation. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you a bright and blessed Imbolc, and hope Brighid’s light shines love upon you.


Brighid/Imbolc Resources

Brideog and Cross information

1. My column is online here.

Recent Dreams

I’ve had three recent nightmares that are incredibly vivid. One I’m not going to go into detail on — all I’ll say is it involves Pennywise the clown. *shudder*

The other two I want to talk about (and I pretty much never share or write down my dreams).

I’ve had nightmares for a long time — probably since I was seven or eight, which would make it, oh, almost sixteen or seventeen years. Some nights I don’t remember my dreams but wake up feeling horrible, and just know it was a bad one. Sometimes I’ll only remember one detail — like who it was about. Sometimes — like the past week — I’ll remember everything in vivid detail.

Dream the First

In the first dream, I was in a fantasy like setting — there was a kingdom, or somesuch, ruled by a monarch. I can’t remember if the monarch was a king or queen. Anyway, I was a nine-year-old girl who was a very powerful magic user. This was unheard of, and I was feared by those who knew. This fear necessitated my going on a journey somewhere, to accomplish something — that part I don’t remember. So an older man — Aragorn archetype — volunteered to be my escort on the long and dangerous journey. I was given a small dagger, but generally it was assumed I would be protected by this guy. We load up our horses (a smaller one for me, but with most of the necessities of the trip — cooking pans, bedroll, extra clothing, probably some sort of quest item even if I can’t remember what it was — I play too many RPGs) and set out on our journey up the side of the mountain.

By nightfall we reach a camping place. I’m cold and scared. I think I’m an orphan. This older, uncle-type guy sets up the campfire et al for me, and before I can even warm up he packs up his horse and starts to leave.

Continue reading “Recent Dreams”

Activism and the Path of the Warrior

i was just a girl in a room full of women
licking stamps and laughing
i remember the feeling of community brewing
of democracy happening

but i suppose like anybody
i had to teach myself to see
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to church
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to school
all that stuff that got lost
on its way to the house of my family
all that stuff that was not lost on me

ani difranco, paradigm

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, about what it means to be a Warrior (in a Celtic Spirituality sense), and whether it’s restricted to people who do certain things in their lives, such as are part of the military or law enforcement. I’ve also been thinking about what in Goddess’ name my path is within the greater scheme that is my religion, life, the world. Answers have been nebulous and unclear — until tonight.

To me, to be a Warrior is to realize that something needs to be done, and then to go out and do it. Whatever it is. Being a Warrior is not a black or white issue, and neither are the issues one is faced with while on the path. The power of the Warrior is to make a good decision quickly and stick to it, while lost in a multitude of grays and “what-ifs” or “maybes”. That power will not always yield a good decision, and one will make mistakes. Another part of the Warrior is having the courage to admit to those mistakes, and move on in a different way.

I do not believe that a Warrior is ever only a Warrior. We are complex beings, so our roles are going to be equally complex. A person called to the Warrior’s way of life could be equally called to be a Healer, or a Bard/Poet, a Priest, Outsider, etc. We have aspects of each role in each of us; sometimes we put more focus on one over another; sometimes we put energy into all of them equally.

One of the important things about being a Pagan whose beliefs are based on ancient ones is finding a way to marry old and new by bringing ancient beliefs up to speed with modern ideals. Nowadays Warriors can’t bring home heads on spikes, or carry swords or guns around with them (unless they’re in a job that requires it). They may not put their lives on the line everyday, strictly speaking, but they do walk a dangerous path nonetheless. Being a Warrior means being a champion for Justice — whatever your personal brand of justice may be — and that is never an easy task.

I am on a Warrior path. I have no choice about this; Morrigan has made it clear that She chose me since before birth because I am a Warrior spirit.

For a long time I have felt inadequate in that regard — what, exactly, do I do to consider myself a Warrior? I have never been in a war zone (aside from Divorce, and that’s a story for another day). I’ve never learned any martial arts (consistently), and my physique is couch potato, not protector of the people. My obsession with WWII, Battlestar Galactica, and the military notwithstanding, I don’t actually do anything to warrant being a warrior.

Tonight a fire blossomed in my head, and suddenly I knew how I warranted the Warrior path, and that for me, the Warrior’s path is the path of the Poet (or Bard) as well. The fire grew, and traveled down my arms, and I began typing.

I have been an activist since I was 13. I lived in the United States when Bush was President, and that informed my political stances at a young age. Throughout high school I attended peace rallies and marches and spoke out against unjust, illegal war and human rights violations; I advocated for animal rights; I was a one-woman theatre show in my satirical protest of my high school’s draconian administration (one day, I wore an armband with a yellow Star of David to school). When I was 17, I won the ACLU Youth Award; first prize in the state. When I was 18, I was asked to read the “I Have a Dream” speech at MLKJ day celebrations (please note that I am a predominantly European-Canadian woman, so this was quite an honor).

And then I burned out.

Activism is exhausting. As Starhawk says, no one [sane] actually wants to be an activist; I certainly didn’t want to anymore. I was tired of pushing and pushing and never seeming to get anywhere.

After my brief respite, I tried to get back into it — I felt bad, honestly, and felt like I was betraying the people who didn’t have voices. I worked on the book launch of Stop The Next War Now (I still have my shirt) and got to meet Medea Benjamin (amazing woman); I was Hawaii State Chair of the Pagan Unity Campaign (I left because of…idealogical differences); I attended a Political Science special studies course: Women and World Peace, and wrote articles for the school paper. I spray-painted a sign that said “VOTE PEACE” and hung it off a bridge over the busiest street in downtown Maui. I performed in My Name is Rachel Corrie (which is a beautiful reading piece, but doesn’t really work as a play — unfortunately).

It didn’t work. I couldn’t relight the spark in my heart. I was dead tired and ready to quit on everything.

I moved back to Canada, and tried to live a quiet life.

No go. I got called back to activism by my nose. But this time I took it slow — I didn’t take on too much at once, I did what I could, and tried to feel good about it. I vote. I go to the Farmer’s Market and support local artisans, which is in itself a form of activism.  I try and I try and I try and suddenly I stop trying, and just start being.

And that’s when I realize the truth: I already am an activist when I allow myself to be myself. And what myself is is a writer. My gift is with the Word, whether I’m penning or performing. It always has been, and it’s time I accept that and utilize it.

This is why I am chosen by Morrigan and Brighid — They are patrons of (among other things) Warriors and Poets, respectively, and I am both. I cannot be one without the other and honestly, learning that makes me feel so free.

So I am looking towards a future where my words speak clearly and ring true; where I have the courage to stand on a stage and beat out poetry that talks about the problems with education or pollution or the Canadian conservative “government”; where my pen is not mightier than the sword but is that sword, and communication cuts a clear line through to the ground and up to your feet, lighting a fire underneath you until you know you have to do something.

No matter what’s happening, I’ll always be here: the Bard that says what you’d rather not hear, but what needs to be said. The Warrior that cuts through the b.s. in order to let the flowers grow up. The Healer who knits the wounds together and kisses away the pain.

I am Called to do this, and walking my path with integrity is the greatest service I can offer Them.

Spring Cleaning and Prosperity

I just spent the better part of two hours cleaning my room. I was supposed to do a spell to bring in money tonight, but decided my room had to be cleaned — that was priority.

The windows in my condo are, well, cheap and crappy, and have been leaking water in for the duration of winter. In the previous arrangement of my room, the window was behind my bed, and basically invisible to me. Only recently did I see the extent of the damage: mildew and mold growing all along the sill, the wooden frame buckling outwards from the wall, and a disgusting smell (Gods know how I didn’t notice that before, but all this does explain why I’ve been waking up congested each morning).

I decided it was really time for Spring Cleaning. I’ve been chipping away at it bit by bit over the week, and it’s not done yet, but tonight was the major breakthrough. I moved my desk into the office, the room next to mine. I swept like a fiend. I moved the bed to the eastern wall, and placed my altar in the northwest corner. I did three loads of laundry, and have at least three more to do (the amount of clothing I found when I moved the bed is unfathomable).

And while I was doing all this, a realization hit me. My current lack of funds (read: panicked state about money) is a message, of sorts. It’s a message that I need to sort my shit out, so to speak. Okay, so I’ve always known this, but I didn’t really know it till tonight. Light dawned: if I reorganize my life, more opportunities will appear. Prosperity will flow if I keep the channels open.

After this epiphany, I started to clean my room with intention. Cleaning became my spell for prosperity. With each sweep of the broom, I was banishing poverty. With the movement of the bed, I was removing obstacles to realizing my own potential. Washing clothing, I was cleansing myself of my bad track record with money.

The results are already noticeable. No, I haven’t suddenly won the lottery or discovered several thousand dollars in my bank account, but with the new layout of my room, the window is no longer blocked, so light can come in. My bed is no longer against the wall, so I am never trapped in lethargy by my equally lethargic partner. My flower lights have been moved to my altar, so in the absence of fresh flowers and candles I can keep a connection to Brighid.

Already I can see how my new, clean room will grant me a new lease on life.

I can’t wait to see how it manifests outside my bedroom.

The Beginning

That’s a good place to start, right?

I’m Morag. I’m a Pagan whose path has been ever-evolving for a while now. That’s why I’ve held off on having a “Pagan blog”. I have a blog, I have a writing blog, I have ten million blogs — but not a specifically Pagan one.

Tonight I finally came up with a name and created one. I’ll probably hate it in a week. Too much fire in my chart, I suppose. I can never make up my mind about anything.

(Though I have had the name Morag for several years, so….)

Within this blog you find descriptions of my path as it evolves, ramblings, book reviews, rants, introductory articles to deities (I write these for a magazine, mainly, so they’ll be crossposted here), and some other stuff. Not really sure yet.

Over the next few days the site will be updated with pages and stuff. Stay tuned for exciting things — like everything you ever wanted to know about me! (And a lot you didn’t.)

Slán go fóill,

Morag Grayheart