Tomorrow is official Imbolc, aka Groundhog Day or Brigid’s Day. It’s the day midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It’s the time of year when it’s clear that there will be no turning back for the sun — the days are becoming longer, if not quite yet warmer. There’s still some coaxing we need to do.
Because of the association with the sun, it’s a day associated with fire, and by extension, all the qualities that we associate with fire: passion, creativity, righteous anger, warmth, and the kind of healing you get from hot compresses and inspiring words. It’s about coming back to life, through winter’s most deadly period.
I’ve been ruminating on some of the final words attributed to Jean Paul Satre. To paraphrase, my main regrets are when I haven’t been radical enough. My relationship to that quote is two-fold. I think of times when I censor myself, because if I said what I really thought, it would be too extreme, too weird, too novel to be taken seriously. And I think of times when I myself haven’t thought through something deeply enough, when I haven’t reached the root. the word radical, of course, derives from the Latin word for ‘root’; radicals are concerned about finding out, and dealing with, the root causes of social issues.
I think of that in relationship to this blog, and my public identity in general, because I know that I hold back. It’s so much easier to go along with the convention — to say what people want you to say, and to just accept conventional wisdom.
How that works out in my public spiritual life is that I tend to downplay my involvement in paganism, because it’s so weird. Also, my own relationship to it is conflicted. I have a hard time with the kitchiness of a lot of neopagan culture, as well as its adherence to a concept of deity. What I get out of paganism is a profound relationship to natural rhythms, and a relationship to the roots of my culture. Publicly, more often I say I practice Zen, which I do. For some reason, Zen and Buddhism in general is given a respect that the “Old Religion” is not. Of course Zen is a spiritual practice that also has a profound relationship to natural rhythms. It doesn’t have address itself to deity, which I find a relief. And it’s core practice is meditation, which I like and get a lot out of. Meditatation, for me, is about facing myself and not backing away from the anger, anxiety, fear, greed in my mind, as well as the tenderness and love.
Why do a bring this up on a post about Imbolc? Because I feel I need to face that fear that leads to self-censorship. Just as well as I need to face — and incorporate — the love and the passion that makes we want to say something in the first place.