Imbolc Advent 2017: Third Sunday

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Welcome to the third Sunday of our Imbolc Advent.

We walk together now through this sacred forest to the third shrine to Brighid, to Brighid the Foster-Mother.  Please have your candles and milk offering ready to hand.

The lore of Brighid the Foster-Mother comes from Scottish Gaelic tradition in which a tale is told about St. Brighid being the daughter of an innkeeper in Bethlehem who ends up assisting in the birth of the Christ child.  The concept of fosterage is rooted in the Gaelic tradition in which children were sent to live with relatives and other clan members for a number of years, to hep foster strong clan bonds.  The relationship between the foster-parent and foster-child was considered to be close and affectionate, often superseding that of the natural parent and child.  In Peter Vallance’s article, The Irish Celtic Magical Tradition, The Festival of Imbolc, he writes, “Fosterage was a common affair amongst the ancient Celts and carried on for some considerable time amongst the Highlanders and Islanders of West Scotland. The bond between foster-parent and foster-child was regarded as being stronger and more important than the bond between natural parent and natural child. One Highland proverb says, “Fuil gu fichead, comhdhaltas gu ceud.”, blood to the twentieth, fostership to the hundredth. Other names given to Brighid are Muime Chrisda, foster-mother of Christ; Bana-ghistidh Mhic De, god-mother of the son of God. Christ is referred to as Dalta-Bride, foster-son of Brighid; Daltan Bride, little fosterling of Brighid, a name which is still used as a term of endearment in some Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland.”  Also, in a medieval Irish poem to Brighid, Brigit Búadach, She is referred to in one line as, Mumme Goídel, rendered in modern Irish as Muime na nGael, or, the Foster-Mother of the Gael.  In this sense, She is honored as Foster-Mother of the Gaelic peoples, which we might also extend today to the Gaelic diaspora.

In a more primal, animistic sense, we might understand Brighid, a goddess of Fire Mysteries, as the Original Fire, Sun.  As Sun, Brighid is not our terrestrial mother as we might consider Earth, the Land to be, but is the great force which nourishes and perpetuates all life on earth, while symbolically serving as the Great Mother of that force which animates, enlightens, and illuminates our souls.  Hers is the Great Torch which lights our spiritual journey as we walk our various spirit paths, and pours wisdom, insight, and intuition into us.  She looks after us, or fosters us, body and soul, as Mother of All Life, an agent of growth both physical and spiritual.  She might also be envisioned as the Great Fire within the body of the earth, enlivening all earthly beings.  In the healing tradition of Reiki, meaning in Japanese, universal life force energy, this force can be understood and engaged with as the nurturing Light of Brighid from a great star as the heart of the universe itself which fills us and leads us to Satori, or Enlightenment.  Through this lens, we can pray to Her and meditate with Her daily as a spiritual practice of illumination, understanding how we too, like Her, can be agents of nourishing and supporting All Life.

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(Image: Brigid, by Sharon McLeod)

Seat yourself comfortably now, and light your first, second, and third small candles.  Ring your bell and intone, “BREEEEEEE—-ZHUUUUUHHH.”

Speak aloud the opening attunment prayer:
“Holy goddess Brighid, Mother of all Life,  Kindle They Flame in our hearts.
Grant us, Thy children, Love and Joy, Wisdom and Peace.
We offer Thee our loving care for all Thy children, all our Kin.”

Pour out the milk offerings to Her:
“Holy Brighid, Mother of all Life, as You nourish our souls with your cosmic elixir, we pour out sweet milk to you in honor and gratitude and love.”

Recite this prayer written to Brighid the Foster-Mother, from the Sassafras Grove of the ADF:

Foster Mother Invocation to Brighid: Sassafras Traditional

Siul Linn, a Bhríd (“Shool Leen, a Vreezh,” Walk with us, Brighid)

Hail Brighid, Foster Mother of us all

Teacher, Guide and Nurturer

Whose love and training aid us on our path

Your teaching turns our ignorance into wisdom

Your guidance turns our helplessness into strength

Your nurturing turns our weakness into a zest for life

Radiant Goddess, receive us into your nurturing arms that we might strengthen and grow

Fairest of Guides, take our hand that we might learn your ways of wisdom and power

Brighid, Foster Mother of us all, Siul Linn, a Bhríd.

(Diana Paar et al.)

Listen to this lovely chant by Katy Taylor, Mother, from her album, Welcome Brigid:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FptLM6oplro&index=9&list=PLIwz2nwqvzsDyVmgb765OotMEypFvzIWS

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As the tune resonates about you, contemplate these questions:

How does Brighid light my way and guide my spiritual growth?

What spiritual paths does Brighid illuminate for me to follow?

How may I nourish all Life as Brighid the Sun of Life does?

As you finish your meditation, either allow your candles to burn themselves out, or extinguish them.  As you put out the flames, or walk away as they burn down, take them into your heart and bring them with you throughout your day, and recall them each morning as you rise, asking Brighid to guide you this week in nourishing All Life, feeding your spirit, and growing in wholeness and divinity.

End the rite with a final ring of the bell, and this prayer:
“Holy Brighid, walk with us and light our way.”

Sources:

The Irish Celtic Magical Tradition, The Festival of Imbolc: http://www.aislingmagazine.com/aislingmagazine/articles/TAM26/CelticRoots.html

Brigit Búadach: http://www.imbas.org/articles/brighid.html

Foster Mother Invocation to Brighid: Sassafras Traditional: https://sassafrasgrove.org/2016/01/29/brighid-along-2016-day-two-foster-mother/

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