N is for Names

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.

 

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St. Bridget’s Church

On my travels this weekend I stopped to visit a church named for Saint Brigid. Disappointingly, it wasn’t somewhere I felt a connection or any particular spiritual experience. (The previous day, though, I’d heard a wren singing its heart out from a branch of an oak tree – and that was a profoundly spiritual experience!)

I suppose it reminds me of a few things: that others’ religious practices are not my own, and that while St Bride and the Pagan deity Brigid may be different ways of telling a similar story, they are not going to appeal to me in the same way.

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M is for Metaphor

Metaphor! I love metaphor. I love the thought of the year as a turning wheel, moving through the festivals. As previously mentioned, the knowledge that summer and sunlight will appear again is a balm in the winter months when my Seasonal Affective Disorder casts a bleak shadow over me.

Before I was Pagan, I used to read Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett for my source of summer/winter metaphor. This year I joyfully celebrated Imbolc as Brigid’s emergence, bringing fire and light into the cold, winter-struck world. Brigid and the Cailleach, carrying each other through the wheel in perpetual motion.

What’s joyful for me is that the seasons are both the result of the spin of the world and the elliptical orbit around the sun, and also the spin of Brigid and the Cailleach, the wheel, the festivals. The metaphor is where my faith lives. I mean, the fact that the earth turns and the sun shines is beautiful and a reason for joy anyway.

It’s kind of how I got into faith. I read Life of Pi and considered the two tales and admired the levels of meaning in the metaphor. I was relieved to learn that I could have faith, that it could be my choice, that it was something for me. It was also quite a relief to realise that I didn’t have to abandon my knowledge of science, and that each could have its place for different purposes. I didn’t actually have to squee-harsh all my joy at the spirituality of the world!

Metaphor is my favourite. ❤

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M is for Moon

Moon phases

Phases of the moon

The moon is beautiful. I have no particular associations between the moon and my faith, but I feel a lovely warm connection with the moon. It’s the same kind of warm feeling when I see plants or animals. It’s good being an animist. With such affection and love being poured at it, it must be nice being the moon. I know some people associate Brigid with the moon, but for me at the moment it’s ‘just’ a large, beautiful, peaceful source of inspiration. I think that’s enough.

I’ve started following the phases of the moon each month using various online widgets, and I hope that patterns in my own feelings and behaviour might start to emerge.

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L is for Litha

Litha, or the summer solstice, is the time when the hours of daylight are longest and the hours of darkness are shortest. It’s the height of summer, though not necessarily the warmest or sunniest! For instance, today has been filled with clouds and showers, rather than bright, icecream weather. I went for a lovely walk through fields, around a church, and came home to eat an apple. Apples are delicious.

Today marks a year since I started calling myself Pagan. A year’s study has got me exactly where I hoped I would be: knowing a little but wanting to know a lot more! I have solidified a lot of my beliefs and feel confident and happy to call myself a Pagan. In the coming year I’d like to learn to identify more plants, put together a recipe book of things I have learned to make, and learn or create rituals for the festivals.

This year, this is what midsummer means to me. It’s a warm day with a cool glass of squash, a nice walk through pollen-heavy fields and a delicious apple. 🙂

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Fallen behind

I owe you an L and an M post for Pagan Blog Project!

‘M’ might be for ‘Moving House’, since that’s what I’ve been busy doing!

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Jackdaw sunworship, photo by Jess Knowles

Jackdaw sunworship, photo by Jess Knowles

Today I saw a sight just like this one: a jackdaw with its wings spread, laid out on the grass in bright, warm sunshine. It wasn’t injured (I checked!); it just seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.

It was wonderful to watch.

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June 9, 2013 · 8:34 pm