Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

Brightening 2024

Today is the midpoint between what I term Midwinter (the winter solstice) and High Spring (the vernal equinox): thus, Brightening. Or Imbolc. Or Brighid. Or–my choice–Riverain, the Festival of Water. Depending on where you live, you might have different names or associations with this point in the Wheel of the Year.

(or, in the Southern Hemisphere, this could be Dimming or High Summer for you)

It is raining torrentially today, so we have good thematic weather this year. And I find myself thinking about the disparate pieces that make up my traditions for this Sabbath: bits of themes from back when I was practicing (if not believing in) theistic Paganism, and then the more modern elements under Atheopaganismbo

Around the region where I live, the common Pagan term for this holiday is Brighid. Just grabbed the name of an Irish goddess and slapped it on the holiday, we did. And the thematic associations with this time of year were largely about the things she is supposed to symbolize: midwifery and birth, the forge and hearth, poetry and smithcraft. Pretty broad spread of concepts there, but Brighid was apparently all of them, and more.

I still incorporate aspects of “celebrating Brighid” into my Riverain rites, even though things like the ring of a sledge on an anvil don’t really have anything to do with the watery, flowy, emotional and cyclical associations I carry for the Water Sabbath. But there is just something so powerful about swinging the hammer and hearing that sound. Once upon a time we would pound open links shut to make chain loops and festoon them with celebratory ribbons, but now I’m not so sure what the forge and hammer are doing in my waterfest. Yet I still need them there, so I keep them.

This is okay. Our rites don’t have to make complete logical sense–that’s not the modality that ritual works in. Riverain would feel incomplete to me if I didn’t have that ring of steel on steel, and so I keep it.

Today is also the day I clear the Midwinter/Yule symbols from my Focus for the year. Afterwards, it will look a bit stark and less festive, but this is a severe time of year, and that is apt. It won’t be long before flowers and colored eggs take their seasonal places, but for now, clearing the decks and preparing to dive into doing as opposed to planning is the thing of the moment. My ritual chalice–which is always on my Focus, filled with rainwater–holds the special coin I cast into it to make a wish for the year, and when I see that as I contemplate the layout of sacred and meaningful symbols, I am reminded again of the station of the year.

Hmm. I wonder if a ritual could include “forging” a “magic coin” by pounding metal flat, and then using that to cast in the wishing well?

Maybe next year.

Happy Brightening, everyone.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.