“Do not be ignorant of me.
For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.”
– The Thunder: Perfect Mind- Nag Hammadi Text
Many folks know the time around the 2nd of February to be that time of year when the magic rodent predicts whether or not there will be a long winter, based upon whether or not he is afraid of his own shadow (and he typically is). This time is also the time where what has been known as “Candlemas” or “The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin”- this latter name has been since replaced by the title, “The Feast of Presentation of the Lord” which was named after the revisions the Catholic Church went under in the Second Vatican Council.
This was a time when a priest would bless beeswax candles for people to use in their homes. Interestingly in Poland, the holy day is called “The Feast of Our Lady of the Thunder Candles”. This name refers to the candles that are blessed on this day, as these candles are lit during thunder storms and placed in windows to ward off storms.
The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin dealt with Mary going to the temple for what was a post-childbirth purification or cleansing ritual which was customary. This element was de-emphasized in favor of making the holiday more about Jesus and less about Mary.
In Ireland and Scotland, where my ancestry lies, this holiday is known as St. Brigit’s day. St. Brigit is known in Irish Catholicism as a sort of foster mother to Jesus, and a relative-friend to Mary. However, Birgit is actually an ancient goddess of the Celtic and pre-Celtic goddess of the Isles and mainland Europe. In efforts to spread Christianity across Europe, the church would often “Christianize” the various deities and customs of the peoples they were looking to convert.
This feast that typically falls right around the first couple days of February was/is known among Celtic peoples as “Imbolc”, also spelled Oimelc or Oimelg. This was the time when the ancients knew, that although the winter was still in full force, the days were getting longer and the Sun, that giver of life, was going to return to its prominence. This time of the year the ewes give birth to baby lambs, giving these ancient peoples the promise of cheese and milk and other things that brightened the cold winter.
This was a time to celebrate the coming rebirth and strengthening of life energy. The ancient myths depict the hag of Samhain transforming into the spring maiden. This maiden was understood to be Brigit, patron of healing, craft, and creative inspiration. The rituals done to celebrate this time were largely spearheaded by women and involved the home and the hearth.
The fire of Brigit is the fire of life and the fire of purification. This is a time to remember the seed that germinates in darkness before it can grow and bloom in the light. We nurture the parts of ourselves that are not yet fully developed during this time. This is the time for internal healing and developing new creative pathways and ventures before bringing them into “full bloom”. Again, we remember that humankind works best when it works with the flow and forces of nature.
Brigit is known to be one and the same with the primordial goddess Danu, known by the ancient peoples of the “Blessed Isles” as the first Mother of All. In the traditions that arose out of the Hellenistic (ancient Greek) world, this mother of all was known as Sophia. Sophia was a dualistic being. The “Higher Sophia” is the eternal virgin, who is unmoving and unchanging- always in perfection. The “Lower Sophia” is her as the fallen goddess who incarnates into the material world.
The classic story of Sophia shows her to be a fallen goddess who left the eternal realm of her Father and became a physical being. In this world, she gave of herself to many longing for love. She is sad, desperate and alone. Seeing her being used and abused, her Father presents himself to her and tells her he is sending her brother, her true love, coming to unite with her. Finally she is saved by her brother (who is also her lover), the Christos and the Divine Wedding takes place.
In this story, Sophia is understood to represent the psyche and Christ is understood to represent Consciousness. Sophia’s fall represents the psyche or soul’s incarnation and association with the physical body and the physical world, leaving the primordial oneness of its true home- the place where all things emanate from and return to. Her being used and abused by many lovers represents how we look outside ourselves for love and happiness, only to be left feeling empty.
The appearance of the Father in her time of abject loneliness represents the divine grace that can happen when we are at our lowest. Her father sends her brother, who is her true love- her “soul-mate”. We are not truly talking about an incestuous relationship here, we are talking about the higher consciousness that comes to save the psyche and reunite with it, forming the Divine Union- the fully integrated and spiritually awakened human. As these are both aspects of our own being, they are described as being “related”.
This is the “Feast of the Purification”- the purification of the subconscious. We seek to heal and integrate the disparate elements of our subconscious mind and bring it into harmony with the Higher Consciousness- Her eternal lover.
The Divine Feminine is the subconscious, receptive aspect of our being which takes the seed of the conscious thinking mind. The Divine Feminine is also the one who “gives birth” to the higher Christ consciousness. In Christianity, this principle is represented in the figure of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The lover is represented as the redeemed prostitute who became Mary, the closest disciple of Jesus. It is no coincidence that both of these women are named Mary in this story, as they are both aspects of the same figure.
The Divine Feminine or primordial Goddess, is an extremely complex figure as can be gleaned from the excerpt from the Nag Hammadi texts that opened this blog posting. This complexity is part of the reason why references to Her have been systematically done away with in the major patriarchal religions. There has been a war on the Divine Feminine for millennia, and it has had many casualties, not least of which is the fragmented nature of the modern human being.
The Hermetic Principle of Gender states that “Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on all planes.”
This can be seen throughout the natural world all the way to the human genome. All things have an active masculine component and a receptive feminine component. This principle plays out in all things- even the Goddess has the male aspect of herself. To deny or attempt to suppress either component, or to declare supremacy of one over the other, is to the detriment of the sole individual and the collective of individuals.
I see this time of year as a time to do some healing work of my deep psyche and to reconnect with the Divine Feminine aspect of my being. I work to see the Divine Feminine all around me in all life. I see it in our Mother Earth and her sister, the Moon. I see it in the plants and animals. I see it in the raw creative potential that resides in humankind. The Great Mother extends herself throughout all of Creation, beckoning to us to answer Her calling and get to know Her a little better. Goddess is the Love, God is the Light, and their Divine Child is the Life.
The mysteries of the Goddess and the purification of the psyche as she reunites with the God- the Christ- are food for a lifetime of contemplation. I invite you to meditate, reflect, and journey deep within yourselves to discover Her for yourselves if you have not already done so. It is the Great Mother who brought me to the path of spiritual work I have been on for so many years now. I seek to love her and know her. And as I grow to understand Her, I understand that I AM Her, as I journey within my being and join with my beloved, the Christ Self within.
Christ the Sophia, Holy Bride, we call upon you.
We praise you and we Bless your Holy Name
We invoke you in your Sevenfold Glory
Come among us, and be with us
Dwell among us and walk with us
Teach and initiate us and guide us
Empower us to bring Mother and Daughter into union
That we might put on the power of the Blessed Name
And shine with the Light of the Spiritual Sun
Let your mystical embrace with Christ the Logos Be fulfilled in us