Today I received word that my Devotional Practice essay passed review! I’m posting it here for you to read.
Since completing my “Art Muse Essay” in 2010, I’ve been working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits, most of which involve fabric and fiber. Seán Ó Duinn, author of The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint, explained several Irish customs and beliefs linking Brighid to fabric, fiber, and traditionally female art, in addition to her well-known association with blacksmithing. Upon learning about her textile associations, I felt even more strongly that I should thank her for the talent and inspiration she blesses me with. In an effort to build a stronger relationship with her, I’ve done my best to perform a very simple rite each time I embark on creative projects.
In my “Art Muse Essay”, I explained that I was lighting a candle for her prior to artistic work. This practice has evolved over that last few years. Originally, I was using the same candle I light on my flame keeping shift as part of my work with the Brighid’s Hearth SIG. I have since decided that I want to save that candle for my flame keeping shifts or healing work. They are less frequent whereas I am always sewing, crocheting, felting, or drawing something! I required an alternative – something specific to my artistic rite.
Somewhere along the way I decided that incense would be a good offering. Unverified personal gnosis told me to offer “fiery” blends. Brighid seems very pleased with cinnamon, clove, and sunny-smelling lemongrass. I’ve offered floral blends before, such as heather, and the incense tends not to burn fully. It’s as if Brighid says she’s had enough and pinches it out. Occasionally, when I am feeling ill and worry that incense will bother my senses, I have offered cups of herbal tea. Once more, I use cinnamon or other “fiery spices.” The blend of fire, water, and herbs is very pleasing to her and I have had good experiences with this offering as well.
Prior to beginning my work, I stand before Brighid’s altar. It sits above my stove, which feels like the most appropriate place given her fiery associations. I then light a stick or cone of incense and say the prayer I wrote. Like my ritual of thanks, it has gone through several revisions.
Great Goddess of arts and crafts
You who put the fire in my head
You who bless me with talent and inspiration -
I thank you for your blessings.
I pray that you continue to bless me with talent and inspiration.
I pray that my art improves and continues to bring a smile to you.
May you know my love, gratitude, and worship in all I say and do.
May I bring honor to you in my work!
Lady Brighid, please accept my offering!
I then place the incense in its holder and begin my workings. The scent wafts through my home and reminds me of her presence. I try my best to do this act of devotion every day I set about artistic pursuits. Although I have not felt the need, I can imagine myself using this rite, with an altered prayer, to ask for inspiration. Thus far, Brighid puts the fire in my head almost every day, and there has been no drought of projects for me to embark on!
Since beginning to perform this personal rite, I have felt my bond with Brighid grow and strengthen. I frequently receive bursts of inspiration and feel her warmth regularly. I believe this to be reciprocity. I ask for inspiration, receive it, and send her my thanks and gifts of incense purchases especially for her. The cycle continues! I’ve felt a deeper connection to my artistic pursuits – and not just with regards to Brighid. I have started to recognize a deepening bond to my female ancestors, especially when I practice very traditional arts such as hand stitching and spinning with a drop spindle. I wonder about my old Irish ancestors. Did they remember Brighid, as the Goddess or Saint, on Imbolc? Did they think of her when they knit a warm sweater? Did they have a cherished bit of fabric that they put out each Imbolc eve to use as a healing object? I wonder, imagine, and feel myself becoming a part of a large tapestry of tradition going back into antiquity.
The only negative aspect of my artistic rite to Brighid is that I feel my relationship with my other patron has been ignored. I do not feel as bonded and this must be remedied. Working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits has taught me what it means to live Paganism. I do not just pay lip service to her on Imbolc, but honor her and thank her each day. I know I can do this in other areas of my life, thus deepening my bonds with other deities and Kindred. Brighid has inspired me again!