Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brigid's Fire of Transformation

Today is Imbolc, the cross-quarter day between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Today I tend the woodstove, watching the pale sun spin a low arc across the sky.  Each day now the light lengthens a little.  Standing out in the snow, I heard a chick-a-dee sing “Spring-soon!  Spring-soon!” from within a grove of white birch trees.  The river thaws and freezes, thaws and freezes.  We look at seed catalogs and wait.

Things start slowly here in Vermont, even in this potent season of initiation and transformation.

In Ireland, this day is often referred to as “Brigid,” or Brigid’s Day,” in honor of the Celtic goddess turned Christian saint, Brighid, Bridget, Bride, or Brid (pronounced Breed).  She of the bright flame and the healing waters, Brigid is honored at various holy wells across Ireland and at Kildare where a sacred fire has been kept burning in her honor for centuries.

Brigid is a triple goddess.  She reveals herself as a muse, songstress, and poet; as a midwife, herbalist, and healer; and as a blacksmith.  The energy she holds is not unlike the trinity of Hindu goddesses: Saraswati (maiden, flow, new beginnings, song, poetry, words, and inspiration), Lakshmi (mother, abundance, birth, life, vitality, nourishment, sustenance), and Kali (crone, fire, ash, death, disintegration, transformation).

Brigid offers us gifts of new beginnings.  Cleansed by her healing waters and purifying flame, we are gifted the clarity and vision to see what it is we are becoming and to courageously begin a new cycle, a new season of our lives.  She offers transformation through initiation.

Yet initiation also implies a test, a readiness, a challenge. 

In yoga we speak of cultivating tapas, a kind of inner fire or heat.  On a very simplistic level, we can generate tapas simply by practicing some asana and getting sweaty.  But, the idea of tapas also implies a burning, fervent desire to know oneself.  It is a fiery and fierce longing to align with the flame of Consciousness within and to fully embody the brilliance and radiance that is at the core essence of each one of us.

It is for this very purpose that Brigid the Smith invites us into her forge.

What is it in your life that you’ve been carrying around so long that it’s become hardened, stagnant, or even petrified?  Maybe it’s a habit, a relationship, an old belief about yourself or another… maybe it’s been around so long you actually think it is part of you.

Brigid invites you to bring this with you as you step willingly into the fire of initiation and transformation.  Deep in the belly of her forge, that-which-no-longer-serves is softened, melted, and re-formed into something new and useful.  It becomes instead something to support you in your journey into that which you are becoming, that which is in clear alignment with your most brilliant nature, your most radiant essence. 

But to stand, unwavering, in that fire, in the tapas of your practice, in the discomfort of having that to which you are accustomed melted away, takes dedication, commitment, and courage.  You have to be ready.  You have to want it.

At Kildare, the Temple of the Oak, Brigid’s flame was long tended by priestesses dedicated to her.  Kings, bishops, and entire armies attempted to put out that flame for good.  But the women fiercely defended it and it burns to this day.

Can you bring this kind of ferocious commitment and dedication to your own process?  Are you willing to stand steadfast in the fiery forge of your own Heart and be softened?  This is the initiation.  This is yoga.

What is it are you becoming?  What never-before-seen beauty is waking up inside you?   For what does your Heart long?  What is your highest, most brilliant aspiration?  Melt down whatever stands in the way of your embodying your true Self to be re-formed and refined into that which supports your intention: that which you are tending within the hearth of your Heart.

Here is Brigid’s secret:  You are the flame.  And you are the forge.  And best of all, you are the smith, the artist of your own life.

So, what will you make of yourself?

Imbolc Blessings of Love and Light,