Imbolc is a holiday for the Brigids and Brídes. But this turn of the Wheel is also for Candlemass and the Virgin Mary. A friend reminded me that I might want to honor Mary during this time, if I don’t have a relationship with Brigid, and I don’t. Honoring Mary at this time makes sense, especially given my long history with her; she was always good to me.
The Ave Maria is a poem, a prayer, and frequently a song. I am partial to it. Taken from lines from the Gospel of Luke, the Ave Maria has been for me over the years a meditation on smashing patriarchal religious sentiments lingering within me. It is a source of deep mysticism.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, God is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us [sinners], now and in the hour of our death. Amen.
My own interpretation goes more like this: Hail Mary! Mary, woman situated in geography, history, lineage, time, blood. Hail Theotokos! Goddess larger than one woman alone, eternal paradox, universal entity. Full of the glory of apotheosis, full of the grace of other gods’ blessings, full of Life Force. The gods are with you, even the monotheist “God” cannot deny you, for he is with you too.
Blessed are you among women. Blessed are you among the poor, the downtrodden, the Othered. Blessed are you among women who birth, who are situated in time and flesh. Blessed are you among women who grieve, whose hearts stretch across time and space, reaching out to the Mother of All. And blessed is the fruit of your womb, which is salvation, for all things from you are holy. From you all things emerge and unto you all things return.
Holy Mary, Theotokos, God-Bearer, fully realized human who bears divinity with in her, please pray for us who call to you. Pray us who struggle and suffer and call your name. Pray for us who mess up and hurt one another. Pray us who hurt. Please pray for us, for me, now and at the moment of death. Amen.
Rich with history, symbolism, and promise, Mary feels like a celebration to me. I am gearing up to resume working with the Blessed Virgin. Not yet, not yet, but soon.