I know – that cartoon above makes so many engineers and scientists and mathematicians go cracked, because in their view, if someone goes to the trouble of writing a number down, then they intended it to be either a 6 or a 9 and which is is would be clear from the orientation of the other numbers around it. (not that this is an argument I’ve heard at all, you understand!! 🙂 )
But here’s the thing, perspectives do matter. I’ll give a clearer example. Last week I worked from home because I was sick. What was up with me? I had a cold. Now, if you had told me 3 years ago that I’d stay away from work because of a simple cold, I’d have laughed in your face. Stay home cos of a cold? Are you joking? Who’d do that?? But because of the pandemic, and the close interrelation between the symptoms of the common cold and COVID, I didn’t even think of going into work, despite getting that negative antigen test result. And you know something? I realised this weekend, it was better for my health to stay off work anyway. I don’t think I’ve slept so much in one go in years, possibly decades! The body usually needs rest to heal from these things and for years I wasn’t interested in giving my body that rest because there was always work, work, and more work. Dragging myself into work regardless of how I felt, because work was such a huge part of my identity and my sense of worth that to miss it lead to major issues for me.
Now though – personal health takes precedence because it affects public health in a much clearer way when 1 person with COVID is in public versus 1 person with the common cold. It took a global pandemic for me to change my perspective on my own personal health. And I know there are other people out there who feel the same. If that’s what it takes to change our perspective on our own personal health, what will it take to change our perspectives on deeply held spiritual beliefs?
I mean, come on, ye had an idea I was coming back to herself at some point right?
There are so many Brigids in the world. I have said there are as many Brigids in the world as there are people working with her. (For her. Whatever!) And when it comes to personal work, our own personal relationship with the deity, that’s absolutely fine. Even my ongoing issues with the preposition I use (with/for) is part of my relationship with Brigid – other people are very clear on their prepositional use here. And sometimes, we come across a piece of writing that is hugely persuasive on a particular aspect of our believes and we absorb it to the extent that we forget where we first read it, we just accept it as generally accepted gnosis. And if it works for our personal relationship with herself, or indeed any deity, that’s grand. It really is.
Where the trouble comes in, is presenting that sort of gnosis, personal gnosis, as generally accepted fact. I have, along with most spiritual practitioners, parts of my practice that will never be made public. It’s kinda like marriage or long term relationships – there are things that are just between the two of ye. No one needs to know the intimate details of the bedtime dance or the weird way ye decide whose turn it is to do the washing up. And it’s the same in spiritual relationships, there are things that stay private or at least, only discussed with trusted people .
Actually, comparing a spiritual relationship with a sexual one isn’t a bad thing at all. You remember when you were first finding out about sex, when the first people you knew started having sex, the whispered conversations, the “oh my god, no, he did what??” And yeah – a new spiritual relationship can feel the same. Especially if it’s outside the forms and formulas of formalised religious structures. And it’s important to get outside validation sometimes to help us on our journey (both for sex and spiritual relationships). In the early days, that sense of community, that sense of having each others backs, of sharing information, is really great.
But it can also lead to bad information sharing. I don’t know of the equivalent in other countries, but I remember in my teenage years of rumours of Taytos bags being used instead of condoms. Yeah – the silvery foil bags. As condoms. *shudders*
And in swapping rumours and misinformation like this, we can accept as true things that are plainly not. I mean, I hope that rumour wasn’t true. Even Ireland in the 90’s had to be better than that right???
And here’s where we come back to perspective. Something like the Taytos crisps packet rumour was reasonably easy to denounce, even as a teenager. (I mean, can you imagine???) But with Brigid it can be harder to disseminate the personal from the generally accepted to the lore based. And from a certain perspective sharing personal gnosis shouldn’t cause any harm, because it’s all relevant right? Well, yes, but…
In any relationship journey, the greater the degree of intimacy and trust build-up, the more risks that can be taken. The more confidence one builds up in any relationship, the more one can “risk” because the feeling of safety is increasing (well hopfeully – if you’re in a relationship where you don’t feel safe, please reach out for help, whether that relationship is with another human or a deity) I mean, sitting down with your partner to say you’d like to give a new sexual position a go is one thing. Sitting down to say you’d like to try moving from monogamy to polygamy is another level of conversation. And depending on the relationship you have, will depend on how risky that conversation would feel to you.
So, the deeper the relationship we build with Brigid, or indeed any other deity, the higher the rewards, in my opinion. So from my perspective of decades long relationship with her, some risks might appear very small. But for someone just learning about Brigid, it could appear high. Equally, there are activities that I would view as highly risky, even now, that a beginner to working with Brigid might not view in the same way at all. Whether it’s because I am viewing things with more information and experience or because the beginner is limiting the activity in ways I wouldn’t consider any more – there is a difference in perspective. Of course, the beginner just might not be aware of some of the pitfalls in front of them in a given course, which can lead to other problems.
So I am careful, when I share things, to be clear about what is part of my personal relationship and what is generally accepted for Brigid. I’ll also often say this is Bride in Scotland as far as I know, but it’s not that way in Ireland, or whatever. And for some people, this can appear like gatekeeping or being unnecessarily pedantic. But it isn’t. Because understanding the perspective of someone can help mightily in understanding why they’re doing what they’re doing, or saying what they’re saying. And while “beginner’s mind” is important in any course of learning, being confident of what you yourself know and have proven to your own satisfaction is important as well.
Perspectives can change, sometimes easily, sometimes less so, but they can changes. And really, perspective change is a sign of growth as well. A deeper understanding of something can lead to a startling shift in perspective sometimes. But when it comes to Brigid, we can always go back to what our ancestors left us, whether in terms of the myths and legends from the Iron Age, or the folklore of more recent generations, or the stories we still tell of the saint. And if we are unsure of something, we can ask. That’s why we have communities around us. Just think about the perspectives of the those you are sharing with as well…