Quaker Pagan, Pagan Quaker

Whilst Quakerism is rooted in the christianity, it is also open to new light from whatever source it may come (QF&P 1.02 §7)  and that for me is the revelatory springboard. ‘New light from whatever source it may come’ So, Friend go out and find it! When Alison and I ran our first Goddess and Green Man workshop at Woodbrooke four years ago, the ‘Pagan’ word was locked away in the closet.  For some Friends at that workshop, it was the first time they had uttered it in a circle of Quakers, and it proved to be a personal revelation when they did.  They weren’t eldered or admonished, or invited to attend a meeting for clearness.  They were accepted and loved as a part of the worshipping circle.  The poor old P word still carries a lot of baggage but one of the best interpretations I have read is on the BBC website – Pagann. One who adheres to a belief system outside that of established Orthodoxy. Two Quaker Pagans in Massachusetts run a really insightful blog about their spiritual journeys and their commentary on ‘What do you mean, Quaker Pagan?’ is the best I have ever read.

Kevin Redpath

Liberal Quakerism

The three tenets of Liberal Quakerism, as suggested by Pink Dandelion, that I mentioned in my presentation:

1/ That faith must be rooted in experience

2/ That it must be ‘relevant’ to the age

3/ That it should be open to new light

These combine to create a theology where revelation is seen as both continuous and progressive.

Wheel of the Year

During the weekend we touched upon the wheel of the year and the eight festivals.  If you would like to learn more about the traditions, crafts, celebrations and recipes you will find useful information and creative ideas on the Sacred Lore page at The Goddess and the Green Man.

In my presentation I touched upon the impact that a vision quest had on my life.  Pippa Bondy runs Vision Quests in North Wales and you can find more about her medicine work at: Ancient Healing Ways

I also referred to Chalice Well in Glastonbury and their public work with the cycle of the year and you will find some beautiful pictures on their gallery.

Imbolc / Candlemas

Winter Moon above Glastonbury Tor

Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marked the beginning of the lambing season and signaled the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. It is Feile Brighde, the ‘quickening of the year’. The original word Imbolg means ‘in the belly’, and therein you have the underlying energy. All is pregnant and expectant – and only just visible if at all, like the gentle curve of a ‘just-showing’ pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.

It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. (‘Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual’ – Doreen Valiente). it’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.

Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect.

Some of the symbols attributed to Brigid are:

The Snowdrop The first gift of Spring in the bleakness of Winter.

The Swan The swan mates for life and represents loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness. Swan feathers are a powerful amulet.

The Flame Imbolc is a Fire Festival and fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid – the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel – the Brigid Cross, which heralds her as a Sun Goddess.

Brigid’s Cross This is a traditional fire wheel symbol – found at the hearths of homes throughout Ireland and beyond as a symbol of protection. A customer in the shop recounted finding a hearth in Ireland, in recent years, adorned with over 200 Brigid Crosses – 200 years in the life of a hearth and a family, overlit and protected by Brigid.

Brigid Doll A very old tradition involved the making of a Brigid doll which can be included in ceremony and/or placed in ‘Bride’s Bed’ to bring fertility and good fortune to the home.

The Serpent In Celtic mythology Brigid was associated with an awakening hibernating serpent which emerged from its lair at Imbolc. Traditionally serpents were associated with creativity and inspiration – the powerful Kundalini energy of the Eastern Mysteries. Paths of earth energy were called serpent paths and at Imbolc they are stirred from their slumber.

Sheep Brigid’s festival is at the beginning of lambing – eat ewe’s milk cheese!

Imbolc Colours White and silver for purity, green for the fresh burst of life.