Imbolc can be a tough ritual to write, especially for a group that doesn’t follow any Celtic deities, so we can’t just call on Brighid, and in Vancouver, which doesn’t have reliable seasonal weather to draw on. Elsewhere, there are first signs of Spring to celebrate or the depths of winter to endure, but nothing is really interesting about Vancouver’s weather at the beginning of February. We’re just in a perpetual state of grey drizzle; sometimes a little warmer with a few early cherry blossoms and sometimes a little colder with a little frost in the mornings, but without a true winter, much of Imbolc’s importance is lost.
Silver Spiral’s Imbolc is, luckily, not until next weekend. Currently, I’m stuck in endless research that repeatedly spirals me away from any of Imbolc’s themes. I’ve got pages of brainstorming notes in my laptop, in my tablet, and on a paper notepad, and all of them go the same way: start with an Imbolc theme, such as Brighid, and then I seek to make the theme more personal to our group and I brainstorm ideas until I end up with something really interesting but completely unrelated to Imbolc, such as minding our words and their power. Since the process of trying to tie that back to Imbolc requires monologuing my entire reasoning, I drop it and start again with a different theme, but with the same end result problem.
I want every ritual I bring to my community to be interesting, enlightening, and spiritually fulfilling for every participant. I want to serve my community and the divine. I want to do justice to the holiday and to the Gods. So Imbolc’s vague themes is not the only cause of my ritual writer’s block, as I put a lot of pressure on myself to make every rite perfect and that makes it hard to write something that might be less than perfect. But that’s not the whole story either; my ego is involved.
It takes a certain amount of ego to be willing to try to create a spiritual experience for other people, and I pride myself on my rituals. As much as I would like to say that it is all about making an offering, I also really enjoy the ego boost of compliments after. The best compliments are the ones that indicate that I’ve made a worthy offering, served my community and the deities well, but I appreciate anything. It does sometimes drive me to want to analyze the ritual right after (though I’ve tried to stop since reading this post) so I get to hear what’s working for people, though I do also want the constructive feedback as I strive for better next time.
I suspect this is necessary for me. I’ve always had trouble keeping a private journal and did better with a blog, even when only a few people read it. My own private rituals are very small and very simple – prayers, really – but I plan fairly elaborate rituals when I’ve got other participants (the more participants, the more elaborate; my Stardust Ritual to open The Gathering for Life on Earth 2006 has still been my biggest ritual in every way so far). Given that I am so socially anxious that I don’t usually want to be the centre of attention – I haven’t always served as the high priestess of the larger rituals I’ve written – this seems odd, but it is performance that motivates me to do my best work. However, it is performance anxiety that keeps me doing research and contemplating themes – and doing laundry, and repairing a chair that’s been broken for years, and going to the gym, and writing blog posts – instead of writing an actual ritual.
And such is the paradox: in order to be of service to the Gods and to my community, I must have a certain amount of pride in my work, but too much pride is paralyzing to me. I know that I need to give up on perfection and just get on with it, since my Imbolc ritual is now scheduled for less than a week away. Hopefully tomorrow night inspiration will carry me through where my ego would stop me.