The Perpetual Flame
Reform Paganism’s sabbat of Spring Eve, coming halfway between Mid Winter and Mid Spring, draws some of its inspiration from the ancient Gaelic festival of Imbolc, a celebration of the goddess Brigid around the traditional beginning of the season of spring.
Spring Eve calls us to focus our Will upon openness, purification, and resolve. We contemplate the Imbolc tradition in which a representative of the goddess Brigid knocks three times on the closed door of a home, asking to be let in, whereupon the door is opened so the goddess may enter with blessings. We participate in the Imbolc custom of spring cleaning and other forms of purification. In some Reform Pagan traditions, we encourage novices at Imbolc to resolve themselves formally to following their chosen spiritual paths by undergoing rites of dedication and initiation.
The goddess Brigid has also come to be honored through the tending of a perpetual flame, an image that befits the time of year when the flames of candles and hearths are ritually kindled, rising upward to meet the growing warmth and light of the sun. For some Reform Pagans, this drawing together of flame below and flame above — two manifestations of the same elemental substance — evokes Nature’s eternal aspiration: the divinity of the Universe itself reaching inward to touch the divinity within the human spirit, even as the divinity within the human spirit reaches outward to touch the divinity that pervades the entire Universe.
As participation in this bidirectional dance of divinity is the beating heart of Reform Paganism, our religion could be called one of an Imbolc without end: Reform Pagans continually open, purify, and resolve our spirits to the possibility and promise of Pagan Renewal, which is Nature itself aspiring, as much like the rising and falling flames of Imbolc as like each new blade of grass breaking through the melting snow of early spring.
Originally published at Pagan Renewal.