Brighid Devotional (Elemental Cross)

I’m always tinkering with the words, but here’s the current version:

[touch forehead]
By Brighid’s Eternal Flame I am inspired and find courage
[touch heart]
By Brighid’s Warming Hearth I am warmed and made gentle
[touch abdomen]
By Brighid’s Deep Well I find wisdom and vision
[touch both shoulders with the hands and bring around front, as if putting on cloak]
By Brighid’s Green Mantle I am healed and protected

Thanks be to you, Brighid
Exalted Goddess, Beloved Saint
For your many blessings

Background information:

One thing that the AODA‘s First Degree curriculum (outlined in The Druid Handbook by John Michael Greer) is the development and daily practice of a personal “Elemental Cross”.  Visually it reminds me a lot of the points of the cross gesture that I’ve seen Catholics do; I’m not entirely sure what it’s called, but they touch the head, the heart, and then the two shoulders.  This is part of their Sphere of Protection ritual, which I haven’t really done myself in full, but I did like the version of the “Elemental Cross” that I developed.  (It’s quite different than their recommendations, but I must still give credit for the idea to AODA.)

I incorporated images that I have often seen associated either with the Irish goddess Brighid/Brigit and with the related St. Brigit, namely:

  • the Eternal Flame that burns in Kildare (once tended by priestesses, now tended by nuns), and I also associate her fires with the inspiration behind poetry and smithcraft, both of which are associated with her
  • the hearth that is associated with the goddess Brighid (she was a goddess of “home and hearth” among other things, and there are many traditional prayers for Brighid to bless the hearth, to protect the home when the hearth is smoored, etc)
  • the healing wells that are associated with St. Brigit (and the holy wells associated with the goddess, which I believe were associated with visions)
  • the green mantle that the goddess Brighid spreads over the land at Imbolc to bring spring and new life — closely linked with a mantle that one may leave out on the Eve of Imbolc for Brighid to bless as she passes by, which will then be bestowed with healing powers

In addition, I often tag the title “Exalted Goddess” to my prayers to Brighid, as her name means “exalted one”.

Throughout the short prayer I include Celtic virtues (gentleness, wisdom, etc) or messages of security (healing, protection, etc), which makes the prayer flexible. I can highlight certain virtues I am currently focusing on embodying, or different messages of security that I need to hear and feel.

For those familiar with the ADF, I incorporated this very short ritual into Brigantia’s Devotional from their Dedicant’s Program, right before the “thanks be” stanza.  It took me a little while to figure out a daily devotional ritual that would work for me, that I connected with, but after some minor edits and additions to Brigantia’s Devotional I think I’ve figured out a good one for me.

More Serious Steps Along the Path

Recently I decided to become a member of Ár nDraíocht Féin.  Not only am I looking for some more guidance and fellowship among other people interested in or following the spiritual path of Druidry, but I’m also looking for a little more structure and guidance in developing a foundation for my own practice in Druidry.  Right now I’m starting to work on their Dedicant’s Path, which requires a lot of writing, and I intend to post (polished) drafts of these here.

I’m also trying to do more for my mind and body’s health, especially now that I have the last of my summer vacation (as a teacher) before I need to start preparations for the coming school year in August.  I’ve been doing more yoga, long brisk walks, daily meditation, and I’m trying to figure out an appropriate daily devotional ritual to do that utilizes the basics of the ADF ritual structure.  I really like the ideas I find there, and I find it a refreshing change from the ceremonial magic-based four quarters, and something that resonates with me, but following someone else’s rituals always seems weird for me.  They are so personal that I want to write my own mostly from myself, though I don’t really have the necessary background knowledge to do so in this new format.  That’s what completing the Dedicant’s Path is for!

I also want to do more to connect with other pagans.  Last night I went to a public grill and drumming event hosted by a local Asatru group, which was nice though a little weird to be hanging out with other pagans — a new experience for me, as I’ve been fairly solitary and not very open about my personal spiritual beliefs to most people in my life.  They were nice, and I hope to do more with them, and hopefully as we get to know each other I’ll feel a little more at ease.

At this point my biggest concern is being able to find balance in my life when the school year starts.  I want to make sure I keep time for physical health, mental and spiritual well-being, and socializing with other like-minded people.

Being Myself at Work

Lately I’ve been considering a near-future change in careers from teaching in public schools to … well, just about anything.  Secretary?  Book store clerk?  Private music teacher?  Yoga instructor?  IT person?  Computer programmer?

This has been to varying degrees of seriousness, but it has made me think hard about what is it exactly that I want to change.  I’m clearly not content with the way things are.  When I think of myself as a teacher, I don’t think of myself.  There is so much of me that I feel like I hide, or that I feel are discouraged in the setting in which I teach.  When I think business-professional superteacher in a tough urban setting (which is what my school desires), I don’t see me.  I don’t see the person who is pagan, who is in awe of the stars and trees, who is in love with making music with voice or guitar or both, who is moved by the writings of Thoreau and Goethe and Whitman and more, who prays to gods that most non-pagans haven’t heard of or know of only as fairy tales or myths.  My school demands tough standards and expectations, but how does that fit in with developing relationships with students and opening up the world to them?  While opportunities can open up with skills mastery, where is the room for the inspiration that comes from discovery and creating something beautiful?

I know I must sound a little hippie, but I am a firm advocate that there is (or should be) something more in one’s education than competence in basic skills and facts.  It is a belief as deep as any facet of my spirituality, of my core being.

The world of my work feels so cold and distant to everything else about me, yet there is hope.  I know of teachers who value similar things and are making it — so perhaps I just haven’t figured it out yet?  Perhaps my people-pleasing tendencies from childhood went into overdrive in this job, and while I was doing “fine” according to my supervisors, I was killing myself to do it.

This is the challenge for the coming weeks and this upcoming school year: I need to find myself in my role as teacher.  I need to open myself up with my students, listen to them, and provide more opportunities for educational exploration and creative outlets.  And outside of my role as a teacher, I need to involve myself in activities and meet with people who remind me who I am.

I am a teacher, I can’t only be a teacher.