In a Barn, With Queers, With Curry
I have dreamt more on Brighid than I quite know how to understand.
Once, I was in a wooden hovel. Herbs hung from rafters, and I was cooking, but I was not me, but Her. Or, rather, I was there on Her behalf, and I was cooking for people full of lustful desire for each other and others. An odd dream, one I never fully understood.
And then a little more than a year later, I was standing in a barn, cooking. It was the place in the dream, but it was larger, and the herbs were on shelves, too, and dried flowers hung from the rafters, as did a swing.
It was an odd place, and I was cooking for people on Beltane, and they were quite the lusty sort. Two hundred or so of them, and I’m making curry, and I know why I’m doing it. I hadn’t intended to, but there was no one else, and I once ran kitchens and catered, and anyway it was Her.
The moment before I started, I knew. The moment after it ended, I told them all it was on Her behalf, and theirs.
More than any god I’ve thus far met, She’s woven through the moment of service, food to the hungry, homes to the homeless.
Between Home and Home
And on that matter, I am currently homeless.
I’ve been nomadic for most of the last 10 months, first leaving my home of 13 years in Seattle for a pilgrimage to sacred sites in France. Five weeks with a tent and a rucksack, almost everything I owned accompanying me across the Atlantic, hauled on my back between town and village. Camping by ancient ruins is fantastic, but it is a bit harder when you know you’re carrying your home with you.
I stayed with a friend in Alsace, with another in Berlin and still another. Then, across the Atlantic again, in the homes of others in New England, in the home of my sister in Florida. For a few months in Oregon, I had a home, but I knew it was not where I would stay, where my journey would end.
Last week, I returned to Seattle. Still without a hearth of my own.
There’s a story about Brighid and a druid. It might seem the story is more about the druid than Her, but I do not think this is true.
In this story, a Druid’s son-in-law has no land for his new wife. He asks the druid for wisdom from Brighid about the matter. The druid asks, and She answers: “the land of the first person he asks will be his.” The son-in-law, hearing this, demands from the druid all his land, and the druid, knowing Her words, gives it to him.
She is like this, yes. It was She whom I first met, before a hearth, laughing. And it was on account of Her that I left. It was not like this story, yet also very much like this story.
The druid left his home with all his possessions, traveling endlessly with a home because of a goddess of the hearth. I don’t remember how long they traveled, and I do not remember what else the druid was said to have found along the way. But he came finally to a place that would be his home again.
And I suspect, so shall I.
In the Laughter of Firelight, the Whisper of Candlelight
She is a goddess of the hearth. There are some who think of Her also of the forge. And I think of Her, also, as an Alchemist
In the fires of the hearth, water and vegetables and bones transmute to stew; in the flames of the forge, metals from the earth become tools. We separate and combine through fire to create. What was becomes what is now, something new from what was old.
I suspect She does the same.
The “waste” product of heat is light. Heat combusts the life of the earth, and from it we are able to see. Stars and the sun give off light from internal alchemy, and by this we are able to live.
The flame which consumes the candle whispers voicelessly, but you can see its dance upon the wick.
She is, I think, the easiest to find of the gods. By streams and wells, by caves, in kitchens. In the light of a candle, the warmth of a fire, the ferocity of the sun. I didn’t need to visit a mountain where She was worshiped to find her, but I learned there where else to look.
Light burns, and fire creates. In even sorrow, there is mirthful laughter. Tend to the flames by which we see each other, tend to the lights which never go out. Bring others out from the cold. Remember why desire must be fed, and why some things must be burnt to the ground, why Brighid tosses more wood upon Her hearth, and laughs.
(Clann Bhride is a great place to look for more information on devotion to Brighid, if you’re curious.)
Other posts in this series: