I have had some big revelations in my personal life: that my gender is non-binary, and that I’m autistic. I’ve also had to get another job, and I’ve been working hard. I’ve been working through some grief, too.
I have still been following my faith, but not enough to write about it – not at the moment. I’ve been surrounding myself with light, trees and beauty; filling it with small acts of creation – baking, knitting and drawing, and I like it. Just not enough to write about.
Quiet and reflection is part of my spirituality and faith; it’s part of my practice.
Quiet worship initially drew me towards Quakerism, or the Society of Friends, since I liked the concept of perpetual seeking: seeking knowledge, largely in silence, and each person working out their own truths and wisdom as inspired by the divine. I still enjoy that quiet seeking, though not in uncomfortable (for me!) group situations.
I enjoy solitude: solitary walks, quiet communing with nature (sitting quietly and relishing being outdoors; listening to birds and insects; staying silent. I’m learning to draw times of quiet reflection into busy or noisy environments by quietly practising Ogham, drawing a Wheel of the Year, or simply contemplating.
Quiet, for me, is not about simply learning not to speak. It’s about learning to listen, and to really try to expand my own awareness of my surroundings and of all my surroundings. It’s the predominant way I draw spirituality into my everyday life, since I’m not – yet – one for rituals or group worship. I’m fortunate enough to work in a job where I frequently get to wander the grounds of a medieval castle on my own. I walk, I listen, and I seek the divine in the quiet.
I have been wearing my Brigid’s cross for several months now, with great enjoyment, and decided it was time to get involved in worshipping Brigid within a wider group. I joined Ord Brighideach International which is a flame-keeping group. It has various cills (groups) of nineteen that each tend a flame, one person a day, for nineteen days; Brigid keeps the flame on the twentieth day. I joined the Trillium Cill, which is named for a splendid-looking perennial:
A white flower with three petals and three alternating leaves.
My first flamekeeping shift is on August 5th. I’m feeling energised and excited!
Ogham is an alphabet divided into four groups. (There is a fifth, but it was added later and I don’t use it.)
- ᚁ – Beith – Birch
- ᚂ – Luis – Rowan
- ᚃ – Fearn – Alder
- ᚄ – Saille – Willow
- ᚅ – Nuinn – Ash
- ᚆ – Huatha – Hawthorn
- ᚇ – Duir – Oak
- ᚈ – Tinne – Holly
- ᚉ – Coll – Hazel
- ᚊ – Quert – Apple
- ᚋ – Muin – Vine
- ᚌ – Gort – Ivy
- ᚍ – Ngetal – Reed
- ᚎ – Straif – Blackthorn
- ᚏ – Ruis – Elder
- ᚐ – Ailim – Fir/Pine
- ᚑ – Ohn – Furze/Gorse
- ᚒ – Ur – Heather
- ᚓ – Eadha – Poplar/Aspen
- ᚔ – Idho – Yew
These are the things I can mostly remember, and the associations I’ve learned through the Memrise course. I’ve also found this great resource which links the individual letters to tree associations, planets, genders and elements. I look forward to learning more about the alphabet as I go.
Night has changed from a terrible, scary, bleak, miserable time to a cool, quiet time of solitary peacefulness. I am no longer (so very) scared of the dark, fearful of monsters that hide in wait. I think it’s part of a pattern, actually: no longer so scared of winter, of darkness, of the monsters.
I’m still fearful of the things that scared me in childhood. I’m still scared of what I was told to be scared of, what the stories warned me about, and so on. However, instead of a giant bleak landscape of unknown terror, it is starting to get edges, familiar shapes and I’m getting more comfortable here.
The moon is bright and beautiful, and the cool air is a welcome relief from the warmth of summer days. I’m starting to accept that I cannot have one without the other.
Names are fun. Names are one way of identifying each other, identifying our places and our deities. I give names to the things I hold dear, to things into which I invest time and effort: to the house where I live (numbers are lovely but they miss the essence of the place), to the car I use, to my blogs, to my gender and my sexuality, to everything of significance. Naming it is what gives it significance in some cases.
My name for my outwardly queer, pagan, genderqueer, internet-based self is Hare. It’s so employers and people-I-used-to-know or people-I-vaguely-know can’t get curious and learn all these personal, raw things about me. They don’t need to know who I worship, who I sleep with, how I describe my gender, what mental health problems I have. So, I understand the appeal of other names, of magical names, of switching and changing one’s name. I also have a more personal name that I sometimes use when I talk or pray to deities, but that’s between them and me. It’s like a cloak or a shield or a trance to slip into; it’s something you can put on to cue yourself into a more spiritual state of mind.
However, I’ve also started to learn the value of introducing some of my Hare-self into my [offline-name] self – talking about genderqueer things on my FB, quietly ‘liking’ Pagan pages, wearing my Brigid’s cross every day and answering questions honestly if I’m asked. I’m learning to appreciate my full name, and smaller nicknames, and holding on to the knowledge that whatever I call myself, I will remain – essentially – me. (As a FAAB who plans on changing their surname on marriage, it’s a significant in many sections of my life.)
I think it helps that I’m a follower of a deity with a name which is said and written in so many different ways. I write Brigid and say /bri:d/ but recognise Bride and /braɪd/ and all manner of others. (I use this wiki page for the IPA [International Phonetic Alphabet], because I always get my diphthongs mixed up.) No matter what their name is, I know who my Lady of the Flame is, and I love all the names for them. I’m starting to learn to love all the names for myself, too.