On Monday night I had a Brigid ritual with my circle of beloved witches. There were six of us, and and you know what's amazing? Ritual stops my cravings: after ritual I don't crave red wine, I don't craze episodes of The Good Wife or my new favorite, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce. I don't crave a homemade hot fudge sundae wherein I fry almonds in butter before stirring in the chocolate chips and salt, which sauce is then spooned over the coffee ice cream which I have previously ribboned with crunchy peanut butter, this combination then being completed with whipping cream and a tablespoon of rye bourbon.
Seriously. After ritual, I don't crave that. I don't crave anything: I'm full.
We start out by casting the circle and invoking the elements as we always do. This is part of why my cravings end. Because just in the simple act of casting the circle and invoking air and fire and water and earth and center, I am connected to all parts of myself: thoughts, will, feelings, body…soul. And also all parts of the beautiful sacred world that is me, and larger than me. I invoked air and I did the thing that I've been trying to do: I did NOT think about what I was going to say beforehand. When it was time. I stood still and waited long enough for something to announce itself to me. Admittedly, that took so long that my circle mates started to look around, and I heard one friend whisper "Um...were you air?" but I'm trying it out! I said "I'm air!" And it worked! The magic came.
You see, when we finish casting the circle, we always say: "the circle is cast, we are between the worlds, and what happens between the worlds changes all the worlds." Air comes next. And in that moment of pause, while I waited for something to come, I felt the circle: the magic, between-the-worlds-bubble that we had created for our ritual. It felt empty. It felt new. And that’s the time we are in: the very cusp of spring, before spring. Plus air is beginning! It’s the new thought, the word, the breath that changes things. And so that's how we invoked it. Together we inhaled, and when we exhaled, we filled our world with the first breath, the air that is new and ready for anything. As the words came from my mouth, and as we breathed in and exhaled together, I felt the flesh on the backs of my arms and neck rise. I felt that feeling that I get when I connect with the animals, the wild, the elements... the feeling of not alone, and it filled me.
After we invoked the four directions, and center, and invited Brigid to join us, we shared stories about encounters with Her. We’ve been practicing together on and off for a year but we’re really still getting to know each other and while we talked it felt like we dug the well deeper. It's vulnerable to talk about encounters with the divine, to talk about visions and magic and what we see when we are all alone and only we can say "this happened." I looked around the circle and I thought "I love these people. They are all as weird and real and deep as I am, when I am here." I felt that they loved me too. I found these deep, intimate, amazing bonds in my forties. This is not easy when we are all grown up, and we aren't falling in love or mastering beer bongs or finding first jobs and all the other risky firsts that forge friendships. But it happens at witch camp. What's the name of that character in American Pie who talks about "one time at band camp" all the time? Am I her? But no!! This is true! Because witch camp is a place where people reforge their souls. My friend's son came to witch camp for the first time, at the age of 28. She'd been going for many years. She was nervous, wanted him to have a good time... afterward I asked her about how his experience was and she told me "You know what made it amazing? The friendship he forged. They are soul friends. He told me 'I've never had a friendship like this before.'"
It's true. At witch (band) camp, I have made the deepest friendships of my life, save one or two that have survived since my twenties. It is profound, to be grown up, know who I am, and yet, be alive and vulnerable and changing enough that a real friendship is forged.
I realize that's like the fifth time I've used the word "forge" in this post. Brigid made me do it.
She is the keeper of the holy well, and also the sacred flame. Fire and water. Tempering and forging.. And on Monday night, when we went around the circle and shared our experiences of Her, there were stories on that theme: Brigid as an ally who strengthens us, who demands more of us, because She knows we can. I've heard Christians talk about Jesus this way. This is what our better lights do. God. Goddesses. Our divine selves.
And then Kai took us on a trance journey to Her forge, and it got real.
I'm going to tell more about that. Tomorrow.