I read a really interesting article this morning (What is Sovereignty by Bethany Webster: What is Sovereignty ) And of course, it got me thinking, just for a change.
I don’t usually link Brigid to sovereignty, because to me, she does other stuff. Learning my boundaries, establishing those boundaries, experiencing discomfort… Bethany Webster has 13 elements of sovereignty outlined in that article and looking back over my adult life, I can recognise the times when I was working on each and the times when I really wasn’t. For a variety of reasons, there have been long, hard parts of my life where I wasn’t sovereign. I gave up my personal power for a variety of reasons. And it was a long, hard, bloody journey back to reclaim it.
I’m not unlike a lot of women in the modern world here. It’s almost like we’re taught from a young age to give up that sovereignty, that personal agency in this world. Defer to those who are older, who know better, who are louder, more confident… there are so many reasons and ways we are taught to give up that sovereignty. We are taught to put ourselves second, to care for others first. We are taught that we must make ourselves small to keep ourselves safe.
Brigid didn’t do this. In fact, Brigid – whether saint of deity – did the opposite. As deity, she married Bres, thereby giving him the right to be king (that bit might be UPG). As a saint, she pulled out her own eye rather than marry someone she didn’t want to, despite pressure from her father and brothers. She founded a monastical settlement that grew to rival Armagh (Armagh was Patrick’s power centre). She did what she had to do, and while the later hagiographies outline that she was always in agreement with her (male) superiors, her actions show otherwise. She knew what was right and made sure it got done.
I look back over my journey with personal sovereignty and I think of what I gave up and how difficult it was to claim back. Monetary power was incredibly difficult to reclaim. I had myself convinced I couldn’t live without debt, that I was just shit with money, and that I was probably better off handing over my money to someone else to manage. Just FYI, that was not a good idea. But I’ve reclaimed that now and within weeks will be debt free. That’s a journey over over 20yrs I’ve summed up in a few sentences.
I’m stubborn and looking back over this journey I’ve taken, I’m seeing some patterns. Things have to get really, really, really, bad before I’ll change my mind about me. Like close to but not quite at life threatening stage. I got to the point of feeding myself and my husband for less than €15 a month. Yeah… a month. They were a bad few months of some very limited and boring food. Porridge featured a lot… Thankfully, we had a full freezer when that hit so it wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been, but I could see the end coming.
Once I change my mind, I always think it’s going to be a long hard journey – and so far it has been. But I wonder if this is another belief that I need to tackle and reclaim the easiness of life. Let’s hope this one isn’t as arduous as some of the others.
Where does Brigid come into this? Well, she’s not someone to let you off easy, really. She does want me to work this stuff out for myself. When she knows I have the tools, the abilities, the skills, the resources I need to do something… she lets me get on with it. It’s not up to her to wave a magic wand, no matter how often I ask her!! But then the results are more valuable to me because I’ve done the work myself. And as an added benefit, I now trust myself as well.
I trust my feelings, my thoughts, my intuition… I know that if I sense something about a situation or a person, that I really should pay attention to it and investigate why. I know myself – there are things about me I admit to few other people, but I admit them to myself. And because of that, I know that if I get a bad feeling about something or someone, I should pay attention to that.
This doesn’t mean not listening to experts. I have a sore ear at the minute. I’m almost certain it’s a ruptured ear drum. Experience tells me this will probably heal on its own, unless there’s an infection in there as well. Now, I’m not planning on ringing the doc on a Sunday for this, but if I don’t feel better tomorrow or Tuesday, I’ll give them a shout because 1) I might be wrong and 2) if it is an infection, I’ll probably need antibiotics. It’s a matter of balance and not allowing my own thoughts and feelings to be undermined by people who don’t know me, while still respecting that experts are experts for reasons and I am not an expert on medicine. I am an expert on me though!
It’s a balance. All life is a balance really. And don’t forget, balance doesn’t always mean equal. I don’t go to the doctor for every ache and pain, I don’t give them the authority to manage half my life… But the balance is what works for me – your mileage will most probably be different. Learning when to trust is as important as learning when not to trust.
Knowing ourselves, owning ourselves, acknowledging all the disparate parts of ourselves as one whole thing, is hugely important. And Brigid wants this of her followers – she is a healer as well as a smith, both elements feeding into this. If she can take wood and steel and meld them together to come up with a useful tool like a hammer, then she can look at you, no matter how fractured and broken you think you are, and see what might be. And so can you. And even if you can’t see it, trust she can and start the work. Even admitting to yourself that your sovereignty isn’t where it might be can be a good start.
You’re worth it. And you’ll be a better tool for her at the end of it – even way before the end of it.
It’s well worth reading Bethany Webster’s article and looking at what it means to you and what can you do about sovereignty for yourself. Stand on your own two feet, or two bum cheeks, or two hands, or one of each or none of each, but stand for yourself, take a deep, deep breath, take a good look in the mirror and see what stares back. Sometimes the worst thing we can ever face is ourselves.