Tonight is my night to keep Brighid’s flame. I keep an altar for her over the stove which was looking a little grimy so I set about cleaning it as best as I could before saying my prayer and lighting the beeswax candle.
Sarah Lawless recently posted about a ritual and discussed cleaning up as part of the process. It really grabbed my attention because I feel I need to work on that aspect of my spirituality right now. I feel I’m always saying this in every other entry, but my life has been very busy recently. Falling behind on household chores is a common occurrence, especially at this time of the year when there are so many reasons to travel and see family. And all that clutter – the waiting pile of laundry, the unorganized papers on the dining room table, the unwashed dishes on the side of the sink – they contribute to this feeling of malaise. I can’t help wondering what people with perpetually clean homes are sacrificing to maintain that image!
Just as Sarah touches on in her beautiful ritual reflection, cleanliness plays a role in many cultural rituals. Several books I’ve read on ancient Celtic cultures include suggestions that they were very clean people in their time. Knowing the emphasis ancient and modern Druids place(d) on hospitality, I know it’s something I’ve been weak on. If a friend randomly showed up on my doorstep, I would want to invite them in but would feel so embarrassed at the state of things. It’s not fun to feel that way. Yet I invite my spirit allies into my home frequently! One could argue spiritual beings are beyond caring about such material concerns, but my feeling of discomfort and even despair at the clutter can’t be ignored. Liturgical order, ritual dance, and traditions like Feng Shui all exist because of some perceived need for order and some sense that what exists in the physical realm will be reflected in the spiritual. There is a time and place for the opposite, but my home does not feel like the appropriate locale!
This weekend will begin the start of a rearranging in my home. I need to make room for some new furniture which requires a whole new layout. It’s stressful, on the one hand, but also exciting. We needed to be forced into this.
I’m especially excited to move my altar back into its original home of the “art room.” I’ve never been entirely comfortable with it in the bedroom, a place of repose compared to the very active energy of the art room. All too often, my desire to ritualize is disrupted by my husband’s right and need to sleep. I’ve never fought with him on that, and he has never given me a hard time about doing devotionals at night, yet I always feel a bit on display or internally rushed just so we can all settle down. That was never the case in the art room… Another issue was the clutter in the bedroom. I feel as if there’s an endless shuffle of laundry constantly encroaching on my sacred corner. It is hard to get into a ritual mindset when one nearly trips over a misplaced hanger.
So bring on the fresh start! Bring on the clean, tidy vibes!