I started reading a book about two weeks ago called Brigid of Kildare. It's historical fiction, based on St. Brigid of Ireland. The historical facts I can find suggest that St. Brigid was born around 450 AD, and probably raised as a druid. She is regarded as the patron saint of poets, healers, midwives and newborn babies. She converted to Christianity, created a school of art which produced the highly acclaimed "Book of Kildare," and built her monastery at Kildare, where she acted as Abbess (some say Bishop) on the site of an older shrine to the Celtic goddess Brighid. I was already slightly familiar with the goddess Brighid, who was associated with poetry, magic, fire and the healing arts.
One week ago a friend told me about a local screening of the movie "The Unruly Mystic." It is about St Hildegard of Bingen, a German mystic from the 1100's. I knew nothing about St. Hildegard before I heard about the film, but from the moment it came into my awareness I felt the urge to learn more.
St. Hildegard, like St. Brigid, was an Abbess. She was also a visionary, writer, composer, and philosopher. Rumor has it she was not afraid to tell the Pope her point of view about things in the 1100's. In 2012, the Pope bestowed her with the honor of Doctor of the Church. No small feat for a woman (in 1100 or 2012). Along with documenting her visions, Hildegard wrote about 2000 remedies for medicinal healings with herbs, and also professed the healing properties of 25 different crystals.
I find it very interesting that I've been drawn to spend the last few weeks learning about these powerful, prophetic women; considering I've spent the last year with the point of view that there is too much hypocrisy and judgment in religion for my liking. I have been unable to find a spiritual home that fits me, and yet I seem to have come home to these remarkable women from the past. Women who were very vocal about their beliefs and calling, even at a time when the voices of women certainly weren't always appreciated or respected. Women who gave much to humanity, by being exactly who they were called to be.
I certainly don't profess to be a saint (or a goddess), and yet I know these historical women are guiding me towards my future. A future which is about to take a dramatic, albeit exciting shift in the next few days. As I stand on the precipice of a big decision, a new direction, and the knowing that it's time to step into my calling, I look to these women for inspiration and direction. It is no surprise that I am drawn to their power, their grace, and their accomplishments at this exciting crossroads in my life.