Wood stove Fire-Photo by Margy Dowzer
During our ritual celebration yesterday evening for Imbolc/Groundhog Day, we scryed with the magic of the fire in our wood stove. Scrying is a form of seeking wisdom, by gazing into some sort of medium–such as a crystal ball, tea leaves, a bowl of water, a candle flame. It gets a bad rap on Wikipedia as “unscientific.” But as one person mentioned last night, while meditation may sometimes be difficult, there is something about quietly staring into a fire with each other that brings one to a state of stillness within.
When we find that stillness, we have access to our own deeper wisdom, and the wisdom of the deeper mystery. Some people see images in the fire. Others notice whatever thoughts or feelings emerge in the stillness of gazing.
Here is what I noticed on the way to the wisdom in me: First of all, a sense of deep weariness. Then, a desire to stop doing so much out there in the world, to pay attention to what is happening within. Then, a feeling of how difficult it is to say no to invitations to activism on issues that are important. There is so much hard stuff in our world right now, and so many good people are responding. How do I know when I should be taking action, and when I should be in stillness?
Then, a fear that if I choose to say no, I will disappoint people, lose their love and acceptance. Then, a realization that that motivation, that fear, is not a source of wisdom, but rather a wound that needs healing. I sat with the fear for a while, gazing still into the fire, opening my heart to the healing energies of the mystery. We were celebrating Brigid after all, who is a Celtic goddess of healing. We had brought into the circle a small bottle of water from one of Brigid’s wells in Ireland, and I anointed my forehead and heart and hands with some of that water.
Deeper still, I realized that I am in the midst of a profound change. I am shifting from one identity, one chapter of my life–as the minister of the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, to another identity, another chapter–as yet unknown. What I most desire is something like a cocoon in which to make that transformation, just as the caterpillar encloses itself for its transition to the butterfly.
This “enclosing myself” is not the same as doing nothing at all. There are activities that directly relate to this transition–processes of ending, closing down, completing the work. I notice how hard it is to turn my attention away from the usual activities of my current/former self, to pay attention to the transition. And in understanding this, I realize that I have to be courageous enough to say no to some good and important activities and activism. I have to say no, so that I can be courageous enough to say yes to the transformation.