Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brigid and Imbolc

As Imbolc approaches I am gathering all my material. This year I am planning an Imbolc ritual for the Neo-Pagan Alliance. This year we have formed our full moon ritual that we will be using for each full moon and I am really excited about this. I am excited because so much of our time last year was used to plan full moons. I love full moon ceremonies because that is what got me started on practicing and taking leading roles in my new spiritual path, but for the NPA we want to do more than full moon this year. Before the semester started Mark, Becca, Liz and I all got together to plan out the semester. This meeting was very useful. We planned out meeting days and planned the 1st four meetings of the semester! WE also decided that we wanted to celebrate more than the full moon so we agreed to write the full moon ritual and have that be the format we use. We did this so a) anyone who is new to the group and wants to come can easily fit into the ritual and feel comfortable b) so we could allow the group time to work on their own spiritual path c) so we can teach everyone who comes about the particular moon and d) so the group can work on writing other rituals. The one thing I am having trouble with is finding information out about the full moons and what they mean. I have different names for them but I need to find what they mean. If any of you have a good website or book that talks about the full moons and their meanings I would love the link or info! Thanks!

At last night NPA meeting we solidfied the time and date of the ritual and now I have to get working on all of it entirely. So I had to do some research on Imbolc and what kind of activities go on during this event. What I found is that the holiday is also known as Brigid (after the goddess the holiday is centered around) or Candlemas. This holiday celbrates the coming of the Spring. We prepare the way as the snake emerges from the depths of the Underworld to tell us how many more days of Winter there will be. The warmth is coming and on Imbolc we recognize that and honor that.
First I think I will provide a little herstory of Brigid.

The first thing you should know about Brigid is that she is a Celtic Triple Goddess. And for those of us who work with triple goddesses we know they are cpmplex be-ings that also have a great deal of power and respect for those who call on her name. One figure of her triple aspect is the Callieach. The Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhainn (November 1) and Beltane (May 1), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Beltane and Samhainn. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìghde as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Beltane and reverting back to humanoid form on Samhainn in time to rule over the winter months.
The second thing you should know about her is that she goes by many names here is a list of examples:
Scotland: Bhrìghde, Brighid, Bride
Ireland: Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, Brìd, Brígh
Manx: Breeshey
Wales: Ffraid
England: Brigantia, Brittania
France: Brigandu

Brigit is the Celtic Saint and Goddess of Poetry, Healing and Smithcraft. She has been worshiped by the Celtic people as a Saint for over fifteen hundred years, and as a Goddess long before the Roman invasion of Britain and the birth of Christ. As the goddess of smiths and of healing.
Fire is a crucial element for her. In her temple and in her convent in current Ireland there was and is a fire burning at all times. It is said that her 19 handmaids service the fire and on the 20th day Brigid herself tends the fire. I found this amazing tradition on an amazing blog called Celtic Dreamscape! One folk tradition that still continues in certain places on Imbolc is that of the Brigid's Bed. The girls and young, unmarried women of the household or village make a corn dolly of wheat, rushes, or grain from the last of the harvest to represent Brigid; they adorned it with ribbons and baubles such as shells or stones. The dolly was then placed in a basket which had been lined with a white flower bedding. Often, a public ceremony would be held, and the village girls, dressed in white, would carry the basket door to door and each household bestows a gift upon the image. The gift may be a shell, a crystal, a flower, or a bit of greenery to decorate the person of Bride. Click here to find out the rest of that tradition. When Christians took over Gaul and Ireland they took Brigid and converted her into a Saint. Her evolution from Goddess to saint linked Pagan Celtic and Christian traditions much the same way the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Holy Grail were combined in Arthurian legend. She acts as a bridge between the two worlds and successfully made the transition back to Goddess again with most of Her traditions retained. The worship of Saint Brigid has persisted up until the early 20th century with Her Irish cult nearly supplanting that of Mary. She is commemorated in both Ireland and the highlands and islands of Scotland.
In order to incorporate Brigid into Christian worship, and thus insure Her survival, Her involvement in the life of Jesus became the stuff of legend. According to the stories in The Lives of the Saints, Brigid was the midwife present at the birth, placing three drops of water on His forehead. This seems to be a Christianized version of an ancient Celtic myth concerning the Sun of Light upon Whose head three drops of water were placed in order to confer wisdom.
Further, as a Christianized saint, Brigid was said to be the foster-mother of Jesus, fostering being a common practice among the Celts. She took the Child to save Him from the slaughter of male infants supposedly instigated by Herod. She wore a headdress of candles to light their way to safety.This happened quite often in ancient times to powerful goddesses and gods. It was the easiest way to convince the "pagans" to follow Roman rule. Another popular thing for Christians to do to cover up pagan holidays is to replace the original holiday with something new and exciting. Imbolc was replaced by groundhog day. In modern times the groundhog comes out to tell us when winter will end, but in ancient times it is said that on Imbolc, the snake would slither out of its mound. It had been hibernating there all winter and as such the snake is seen as a creature of regeneration as well as lying between the worlds. Snakes were demonized by Christianity, so I think it is clear to see why they used a groundhog instead of a snake.
She is seen as the patroness of Imbolc and for that the NPA will honor her in our ritual.

Here is what we are going to do for our ritual.
First we are going to cleanse and ground with sage!
Then there will be a greating of the audience.
The Herstory of Brigid and the meaning of Imbolc.
Calling the Directions
Casting the Circle (using an aspen wand from the forest by my house)
Invoking the Goddess
Lighting the Brigid Crown
Carving Snake Medallions (made of crayons)
Meditation (possibly design Brigid knots)
Blessings of cups and cakes
Releasing Directions and Circle
Then Grounding and more snacks!

I am super excited to lead hte event and take a leadership role in this ritual. It will be the second holiday ritual that I have planned and lead for others! I can't wait!

Blessings to all of you as Imbolc approaches! And may Brigid bless you as the Spring approaches faster and faster!


libramoon said...

You are invited to help to form what we continue to become:

gypsy hand

Too brite days
midnights that refuse to
abide dark and secret
as empty phrases chant
to fairytale Moons
I tell myself
This is no ordinary room
This is no fleeting flittering life
This is a magical passageway
sparkling like mica, like miracles

Quiet traces
luminous impression
a trailing kite tail binds
silent whimpers, sojourning whispers,
tears shining behind mime smiles

Crone's gnarled fingers, playing
to spite agony
simulate touch
beyond ache
Too brite cell,
crouched scarred shadow
I cast silhouette of metamagic gypsy

Laurie Corzett -

Robin Larkspur said...

Sounds like you are prepared both in a literal sense, through your study, and in a spiritual sense. It will be an excellent, meaningful ritual! Blessings to you on Imbolc. Enjoy the sabbat. Robin.

libramoon said...

Bearing Water for Brigid

Sketches for a water vessel --
bottle and message bob on waves.
Voice of Brigid calls
at the root of desire.
All who hear: Imagine
Rock faces erode
exposed to wind, to grit, to rain
and hail.
Designated fixed space
Sacrosanct container
Conveyor through fluid
Creates place, surface to paint
diffusement of emotion
beatitude, foment of dueling farce.
Charismatic gems
harsh edges polished pure
blend in the dark
become enchanting
wish granting.
Enthusing brief infusion
of giddy illusion
just enough to guilefully entice.
Sparkling Neural net
Catch that glint, a secret
clue revealing
purpose, meaning.
wild eternal child,
ages' flamboyant fool

(Voice rains from within)

A wound is a sacred vessel
Pain carves into flesh
Carries sense memory
Carries the seed
Of its own demise
Sentient feeling
Engulfed in life
Learns anew to be whole

Wounded with the potential for wisdom
The prize applies when eyes are are pried
from seeping, sucking, suffering
aching to censure what future we admire
Redefine the schizm
This wound is our project
To heal, discover the vision
Realign the seam to fit
self-framed landscape
not lose or win
Let loose that genie of desire
Ride rushing blood streams
Build a roaring pyre of grief,
insane belief in wrathfilled deities
Revile that old refrain: "life is pain" or a game
to be lost
No Faustian bargain
Just a
rambling adventure
of daring
to explore
essence of ecstasy
Don't wait for the rest to see
and demur
Take pleasure
Stretch your sail
Take sight of your guiding star
The only failure is self-denial
in favor of the vile lie
that pain is destiny
instead of faithful friend
lending energy
for change

Slice vivid memories
Exult in their flavor
Savor the tastes, the textures
Enliven your way

In the end
The vessel breaks
There the Goddess stirs

2011 Aquarius

Caitlin said...

It sounds so awesome! I saw some of Liz's pictures and they are so cool. Miss celebrating with you people lots and lots.