Lá Fhéile Bríde - Imbolc
Today February 1st, is Imbolc, Lá Fhéile Bríde as it's also known in Ireland, the Celtic festival of light and returning green which honours the Goddess Brigid. In truth she can be honoured all over this next few weeks, and throughout the year, so don't overlook it if you don't have time today. Mistress of healers and poets, protectress of children, mothers and the hearth and home, Brigid is a goddess who should have a place in everyone’s home, and her strong yet gentle energy blesses all she touches. Yet we must also remember, her flame is fierce. In some tales she transforms into the maiden Brigid from the ancient Crone goddess the Cailleach, the wise old one of winter, and in other tales these two do battle to force the Cailleach to release her hold upon the land. She's strong is Brigid, not some slip of a girl, but a woman grown, strong enough to be a midwife, to hold all the family, all the clan.
We live in challenging times, and the earth needs us like never before, our communities need us, and the powerless all over the world need those who can to stand up and bring in a more caring time…we need that light that Brighid brings so desperately. Yet we also need the Cailleach, she who teaches us about long winters, about wisdom and about what it is to endure. Today I see troubled times in the world, and I see need for that wisdom more than ever, as well as a need for that light.
Traditional things to do for Imbolc are to place a cloth, called a Brat Bríde, or Brighids cloak, out on a bush or tree overnight to be blessed by Brighid as she passes. This can be a powerful healing tool, to nurture and support those in need of healing. Another is to make Brighid’s crosses or Brighid’s eyes to protect the home…( a link here to how to do that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn_MG4HZVOo) and to welcome the Goddess into your house by making an altar to her, or having a Bridie doll, and making a special bed for it. Do it all, welcome her with all your heart. Now is the time for house blessings with candles and incense, and for placing out an offering to the Goddess and the land, in gratitude for life’s return.
But a word of wisdom from the Old One in your ear- we’ll be needing that resilience for a while yet, we’ll be needing still how to learn to walk in dark places, carrying Brighid’s candle with us as we go. We all need to be light bringers now. And we all need to be wise and canny, and strong.
So Bless your homes. Bless the land and the air and the waters. Bless your children and your elders. Bless the strangers and the lost. Bless each other. Be Brighid’s living flame, shine bright, especially in dark places. Be a midwife to that new better world that we all need, and walk your talk- call in the endurance of the Cailleach and the fierceness caring of Brigid. Attend now to the great work, and let us all bring back the green.
Try this simple ritual to bless and cleanse yourself and your home. (Saining as its known in the Scottish traditions).
Gather a bowl of fresh water- rain water or spring water ideally, or bottled spring water is fine.
When you are ready, place this on your altar, or your kitchen table- wherever you do spiritual work. Take three deep breaths to centre yourself, and draw a x shaped cross – a sun wheel, like the traditional Brigid’s cross design- upon the water’s surface with your finger, and announce ‘Bridie bless these waters’ three times, building your intention each time.
When you are ready, recite this lustral prayer, based on a traditional Scottish prayer from the Carmina Gadelica
"I am bathing my face
In the mild rays of the sun,
Sweetness be in my mouth
Wisdom be in my speech.
The hand of Brighid about my neck
The hand of Brighid about my breast
The hand of Brighid laving me
The hand of Brighid blessing and protecting me."
Repeat this prayer over and over until you feel you have built some power in the words and in the water, and then gently touching the water, use it to lave your face- your brow your mouth your neck and your heart.
Use the water then to bless your home by sprinkling over the doors and windows, again marking them with the sun-wheel X. Pour the remainder back onto the land.
Imbolc blessings to you and yours!
Brigid by Dan Goodfellow **
* I have edited this lustral prayer, known as An Liuthail, The Lustration, to remove the Christian elements and make it usable for my own practice- however a full unedited version can be found here: https://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg1/cg1026.htm
Alexander Carmichael., 23. An Liuthail, The Lustration, Carmina Gadelica Vol 1.
**Brigid by Dan Goodfellow www.dangoodfellow.co.uk featured in our upcoming new oracle deck "Celtic goddesses witches and queens" coming winter 23. Prints etc available https://www.redbubble.com/people/dangoodfellow/shop?artistUserName=dangoodfellow&asc=u&collections=326233&iaCode=u-print-photo&fbclid=IwAR2S8V4Vg_7bLTBikPo3NdgzgKqPeCcDklS07imTmdNSVHRINcQK3Ee0h7Q