FUINN II: THE POETRY OF PRACTICE

A wonderful chant in Gaelic to commune and internally connect with the Light of Brighid, by James Nicol of Contemplative Druidry. 🙂

contemplativeinquiry

I’m a Pagan Druid, happily placed in a tradition that values poetry and seership over dogma and system building. I experience my practice as a sort of poetry. In this poetry of practice, I am held in a compelling myth of origin, an ever-now origin, and I have found a new way of working with it.

My new collection of Fuinn (Ceile De chants in Scottish Gaelic) includes a very simple one which goes A Hu Thi (ah – hoo – hee) repeated over and over again. The Ceile De interpretation, a Celtic Christian one, is that this chant “represents the three stages of the unfolding of creation … A– the Great Mystery draws in its breath … Hu – that breath is breathed out, and creation is born from out of the Mystery … God becomes matter … Thi – the Divine nature, beingness and intention acts within…

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Keeping Brigid after Imbolc

Yes, She is ever-present and ever-renews Herself in our world, as each morning’s rising sun, the re-kindled hearth fires, inspiration gleaned from inspirational poetry & art, and the constant creation & re-creation of Life, the energy & power of the universe. Hail Brìde, Life’s Living One!

Parting the Mists

Brigid before me,

Brigid beside me,

Brigid behind me.

I am under the shielding

Of good Brigid

Each day and each night.

This is my nightly prayer – though often said in my mind rather than with my mouth – as well as my charm of protection whenever the need arises for one.

This came to me many years ago after first reading “The Descent of Brigid,” based on verses in the Carmina Gadelica, as well as several other protective charms to the Irish goddess and saint called Brigid, Brigit, Brig, or Bride, depending on your preference. If you are unfamiliar with this deity, this article on The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids is a good place to catch up.

Many people remember Brigid at her February festival of Imbolc, which many of us celebrated last week. We make a Brigid’s cross or bed, maybe eat some dairy-based dishes, sing…

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Happy Imbolc!

Clann Bhride

Image of two sheep outside in winter. Two woolly sheep in a snowy field in the early morning. Imbolc is the traditional time when ewes would begin producing milk for lambs to be born in the spring. Photograph by James Bowe, 2009.

Clann Bhride would like to wish everyone a very blessed Imbolc – or a very blessed Lughnasadh, for our members in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been another amazing year of growth for our group and we’d like to take a moment to reflect over what the last several months have brought.

This year is our second anniversary of launching this site and sending our Book of Hours out into the world. It is also the first anniversary of our flamekeeping Cill‘s creation. Membership in our Facebook group numbers 293 as of this morning, and we’ve also expanded with our ogam study group.

2015 saw our first ever Membership Survey, which helped us determine how…

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Imbolc Advent’s Conclusion: The Return of Brìde

Imbolc Eve and Morn ~

There is a Scottish folk tale called The Coming of Angus and Brìde in which Brìde is envisioned as the spirit of Spring, trapped within the mountain home of the Cailleach, Queen Beara of Winter, so that the queen may keep her frosty rule over the land. In it, Beara’s son Angus dreams of the beautiful Brìde from his otherworldly home on the Green Isle, and leaves at once to find and rescue her. When he does this, the couple hide briefly with the faeries, where they are wed and hailed by them as the King and Queen of Summer. After the nuptials and celebration, the Cailleach and her hags wage a wintery war on growth and warmth, to which Angus responds with shows of bright sunshine. These battles last until the equinox, when the Cailleach finally retires to the Green Isle herself. There, she drinks from a Well of Youth which magically transforms her into a maiden, who will then age into an old woman by the time Samhain’s season of winter returns, to once again rule as its elderly queen.

I like to re-imagine this story as a tale of voluntary winter slumber, as the forces of growth and life need a rest after the efforts of growth and harvest, in order to rejuvenate. I envision Brìde going willingly into the Cailleach’s protective mountain at Samhain, winter’s arrival, to sleep safely, and dream the Dream of Summer. The shifting tides then signal Brìde to awaken at Imbolc, return to the land from the Underworld of the mountain, and once again bring to all beings her nourishing life and vitality, as warming sun, lengthening light, growing plants, and lactating ewes.

Imbolc and Brìde’s Return may be marked by the sunrise which illuminates the Mound of Hostages on Ireland’s Hill of Tara, around the 3rd or 4th of February at its first sighting. This solar alignment can last for up to two weeks after, creating a season of Imbolc more than a singular day or event. Information about, and images of the Mound, Tara, and the Imbolc sunlight inside the chamber can be viewed here ~

About the Mound ~ http://www.knowth.com/mound-of-the-hostages.htm

Imbolc, Cross-Quarter Day at the Mound ~ http://www.meath.ie/Tourism/EventsFestivalsandNews/PastEvents2010/Name,40414,en.html

Sunshine Illuminating the Mound ~ http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/44006/images/mound_of_hostages.html

 

 

Inspirational Reading & Song:

Meditations on the Brigid’s Cross Symbol, by Erin Lund Johnson

The fire gives blessings from the center, the heart, to the edge, in all directions. We see this on a cosmic scale, from the sun at the center of the solar system blessing our land with life, to the molten fire at the center of the earth supporting all beings here, to the forge, the center and heart of the tribe which allows the people to make a living and defend themselves, to the hearth fire, which sustains the family with warmth, food, and medicine, to the sacred temple and ritual fire, which sustains the people spiritually. The microcosm is then the energy and action of our own human hearts which sustains our bodies; all these fires radiating out from the center/heart to the edge, to where the light and warmth of the fire extend.

I see this illustrated in the Brighid’s cross, with any and all of these fires in its center, radiating out its/their blessings in all directions, from center to edge, from heart to all. In reverse, this becomes a symbol of hospitality, of seeing anyone who comes into my space, literally or figuratively, as approaching my spiritual/emotional heart/hearth, as I may then welcome them warmly into my space, from all directions as they may come, to extend to them the hospitality and warmth of my soul and being.

Another literal and figurative heart center is the well or spring, welling up from the heart of the land, and flowing across it, blessing the land and all its beings with life. In this way I might view the center of the cross as a still pool, and my actions as ripples which circle out from that heart to touch all beings, from center to the edge, and so be mindful to make my actions and words those which might bless all beings and support life and wholeness, which is healing in itself.

I keep these meditations in mind when I wear the Brighid’s cross, and have taken to wearing it more regularly, almost daily, because I love the idea of carrying that welcoming flame and healing well with me, and becoming an extension of them myself, and in turn, an extension of Her spirit, bringing Her blessings into the world, which is what I feel is the spiritual meaning of Brighidine flametending.

Brìde Bless.

 

The tale, The Coming of Angus and Brìde, may be heard here, told by David Campbell, where you may also click on and read a transcript, if you prefer: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandsstories/brideandangus/index.asp

 

Listen to, and try to use the given lyrics and pronunciation key to sing along with, a traditional song for Brìde, Gabhaim Molta Brìghde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP5FS6IXJJA

 

During Imbolc Eve, weave a traditional Irish Brigid’s Cross to protect your home for the coming year, and leave it out overnight so Brìde may leave Her blessings upon it. The cross’s motif is an ancient European sun symbol, fitting for the return of light and life to the land. Follow this link for a cross-weaving video demonstration:  http://ireland-calling.com/brigids-cross/

Reeds, dried straw or grains soaked to make them pliable, twisted paper rope, straws, or pipe-cleaners may be used, whatever is handiest! Fresh sprouting reeds were traditionally harvested and woven as emblems of spring’s renewal, as some of the earliest-returning plant growth of Brìde’s green mantle of the land.

In some places it is traditional to burn the crosses from the previous year to help pass away the old cycle, while in some places it is traditional to collect the old crosses together on a wall in the home. If you have a cross and don’t care to fashion a new one, leave it out to be re-blessed, and re-hang it in your home on Imbolc morn.

After the sun has set, leave outside if you can, where the morning sun might shine upon them, or inside on or near your hearth, a ribbon or cloth for Brìde to bless to use for healing, a milk and grain offering for Her, a lit candle that She may find Her way to your hearth or porch, and a bowl of water She might bless, to save for healing and blessing throughout the year, in addition to your Brigid’s cross, if you have one. You might then recite this adaptation of a poem by Fiona MacLeod, re-written to Brìde ~

The Mystic’s Prayer

Lay me to sleep in sheltering flame,
O Goddess of the Nurturing Fire!
Wash pure my heart, and cleanse for me
My soul’s desire.

In flame of sunrise bathe my mind,
O Goddess of the Healing Fire,
That, when I wake, clear-eyed may be
My soul’s desire.

 

On Imbolc Morn, stand facing the sun, perhaps near the offerings and items you’d left out the night before, and offer a prayer of welcome and thanks to Brìde upon Her return:

“Great Lady Brìde, greetings to you as you emerge from the Underworld and return to us and our lands! Thank you for your blessings of returning life, stronger light, hope and renewal. You fingers are the shining rays of springtime sun, Your mantle is the new green growth upon the land, Your Waters of Life are the soft spring rains running in the rivers. May your return and renewal be seen upon the land and felt within our souls. As you pour out the flowing waters of life, and melt winter’s ice with your light and warmth, may we as your devotees pour out the balm of renewal, and shine the light of regeneration where they are needed in our lives, in our homes, and in our world. Help us to see how we may best serve Life, as You do Yourself. Welcome home, Lady Brìde!”

Return inside now to your Imbolc Advent altar, with a small bowl of the blessed water. Light the four candles at the points of your altar’s Brìde Cross and recite the Four Fires of Brìde Prayer in its entirety as you light each of the flames ~

Brighid, my head is on fire for you-
Kindle thou my inspiration, as you passionately do.
Brighid, my hands are on fire for you-
Kindle thou my creation, as you skillfully do.
Brighid, my hearth is on fire for you-
Kindle thou my restoration, as you gently do.
Brighid, my heart is on fire for you-
Kindle thou my compassion, as you lovingly do.
Four Fires in one, a Bhríd, Four Fires for you,
Kindle thou my devotion, as you always do!
Four Fires in one, a Bhríd, Four Fires in me,
Kindle thou my wholeness, agus oscail mo chroí!

Oscail mo chroí is Irish for, ‘open my heart.’ In this space of heart opening, breathe in the blessings of Brìde, and breathe out gratitude to Her for the many gifts She has given during this Imbolc Advent season.

Light your final, fifth central candle on your Advent altar, and recite this slightly adapted Birth Blessing prayer, as our souls are reborn into, and with, the cycle of growth; use the blessed water to anoint yourself through each portion of the prayer ~

 

THE INVOCATION OF THE GRACES

“Brìde, Lady of Graces, place the pure choice graces upon us ~
Grace ever upwards over us, grace ever downwards below us, grace of graces within and without.

“The grace of form,
The grace of voice,
The grace of fortune,
The grace of goodness,
The grace of wisdom,
The grace of charity,
The grace of vitality,
The grace of whole-souled loveliness,
The grace of goodly speech.

“Grace of the love of the skies be ours,
Grace of the love of the stars be ours,
Grace of the love of the moon be ours,
Grace of the love of the sun be ours,
Grace of the love of the rains be ours,
Grace of the love of the land be ours,
Grace of the love of the generous summer be ours.”

~ adapted from a collection of Invocation of the Graces prayers in the Carmina Gadelica, Vol III, by Alexander Carmichael

 

Take a moment to reflect on all the gifts your spirit has received from Brìde over this Imbolc Advent season, all the gifts your body will receive over the coming season of growth, and how, as Brìde makes spring evident upon the land, we might each make Her inner spiritual gifts evident in the world around us, bring them forth from the underworld of our hidden heart, and so bring Her renewal and rejuvenation through ourselves to all beings, supporting all life, as will Her shining sun in the sky, and green mantle growing upon the earth.

Then you may like to recite this Saining prayer, that Brìde may bless your home and family in this season of growth as She awakens and returns from the Underworld of winter’s dreaming. You could either carry this central flame around your house, or sprinkle round the water blessed by Brìde’s rising spring sun ~

“May Brìde give blessing
To the house that is here
From crest and frame,
Both stone and beam;

“Both clay and wattle;
Both roof and foundation;
Both window and timber;
Both foot and head;

“Both man and woman;
Both wife and children;
Both young and old;
Both maiden and youth

“Plenty of food,
Plenty of drink,
Plenty of beds,
Plenty of ale,
Be always here.

“Much of riches, much of mirth, many of people, much of long life be ever here.

“May Brìde the fair and tender be its help, Her hue like the cotton-grass; Rich-tressed Lady of ringlets of gold, be nigh on the hearth, giving Your blessing, and fulfillment of each promise on those within; on those within.”

~ adapted from the prayer, Blessing of the House, in Carmina Gadelica, Vol III, by Alexander Carmichael

 

Hang your cross above your door or hearth to bring Her blessings to your home and family throughout the year, and carry the spirit of Her cross within your heart.

Bright Blessings of Brìde to you!

 

 

 

 

 

Imbolc Advent ~ Fourth Sunday

Opening for Fourth Sunday ~

Begin this fourth Sunday by lighting your first, second, and third candles which you lit last Sunday, and your fourth candle, going around sunwise, so that all four candles are now lit.

Recite this Flame Lighting Prayer ~

Brìde, Excellent, Exalted One,
Bright, golden, quickening flame ~
Shine Your blessings on us from the Otherworld,
You, Radiant Fire of the Sun.

 

Inspirational Reading & Song ~

THE Genealogy of Bride was current among people who had a latent belief in its efficacy. Other hymns to Bride were sung on her festival, but nothing now remains except the names and fragments of the words. The names are curious and suggestive, as: ‘Ora Bhride,’ Prayer of Bride, ‘Lorg Bhride,’ Staff of Bride, ‘Luireach Bhride,’ Lorica of Bride, ‘Lorig Bhride,’ Mantle of Bride, ‘Brot Bhride,’ Corslet of Bride, and others. La Feill Bhride, St Bridget’s Day, is the first of February, new style, or the thirteenth according to the old style, which is still much in use in the Highlands. It was a day of great rejoicing and jubilation in olden times, and gave rise to innumerable sayings, as:–

‘Feill na Bride, feis na finne.’

‘Bride binn nam bas ban.’

‘A Bhride chaoin cheanail,
Is caoimh liom anail do bheoil,
’D uair reidhinn air m’ aineol
Bu to fein ceann eisdeachd mo sgeoil.’

Feast of the Bride, feast of the maiden.

Melodious Bride of the fair palms.

Thou Bride fair charming,
Pleasant to me the breath of thy mouth,
When I would go among strangers
‘Thou thyself wert the hearer of my tale.

There are many legends and customs connected with Bride. Some of these seem inconsistent with one another, and with the character of the Saint of Kildare. These seeming inconsistencies arise from the fact that there were several Brides, Christian and pre-Christian, whose personalities have become confused in the course of centuries–the attributes of all being now popularly ascribed to one. Bride is said to preside over fire, over art, over all beauty, ‘fo cheabhar agus fo chuan,’ beneath the sky and beneath the sea.

On Bride’s Eve the girls of the townland fashion a sheaf of corn into the likeness of a woman. They dress and deck the figure with shining shells, sparkling crystals, primroses, snowdrops, and any greenery they may obtain. In the mild climate of the Outer Hebrides several species of plants continue in flower during winter, unless the season be exceptionally severe. The gales of March are there the destroyers of plant-life. A specially bright shell or crystal is placed over the heart of the figure. This is called ‘reul-iuil Bride,’ the guiding star of Bride, and typifies the star over the stable door of Bethlehem, which led Bride to the infant Christ. The girls call the figure ‘Bride,’ ‘Brideag,’ Bride, Little Bride, and carry it in procession, singing the song of ‘Bride bhoidheach oigh nam mile beus,’ Beauteous Bride, virgin of a thousand charms. The ‘banal Bride,’ Bride maiden band, are clad in white, and have their hair down, symbolising purity and youth. They visit every house, and every person is expected to give a gift to Bride and to make obeisance to her. The gift may be a shell, a spar, a crystal, a flower, or a bit of greenery to decorate the person of Bride. Mothers, however, give ‘bonnach Bride,’ a Bride bannock, ‘cabag Bride,’ a Bride cheese, or ‘rolag Bride,’ a Bride roll of butter. Having made the round of the place the girls go to a house to make the ‘feis Bride,’ Bride feast. They bar the door and secure the windows of the house, and set Bride where she may see and be seen of all. Presently the young men of the community come humbly asking permission to honour Bride. After some parleying they are admitted and make obeisance to her.

Much dancing and singing, fun and frolic, are indulged in by the young men and maidens during the night. As the grey dawn of the Day of Bride breaks they form a circle and sing the hymn of ‘Bride bhoidheach muime chorr Chriosda,’ Beauteous Bride, choice foster-mother of Christ. They then distribute fuidheal na feisde,’ the fragments of the feast–practically the whole, for they have partaken very sparingly, in order to have the more to give–among the poor women of the place.

A similar practice prevails in Ireland. There the churn staff, not the corn sheaf, is fashioned into the form of a woman, and called ‘Brideog,’ little Bride. The girls come clad in their best, and the girl who has the prettiest dress gives it to Brideog. An ornament something like a Maltese cross is affixed to the breast of the figure. The ornament is composed of straw, beautifully and artistically interlaced by the deft fingers of the maidens of Bride. It is called ‘rionnag Brideog,’ the star of little Bride. Pins, needles, bits of stone, bits of straw, and other things are given to Bride as gifts, and food by the mothers.

Customs assume the complexion of their surroundings, as fishes, birds, and beasts assimilate the colours of their habitats. The seas of the ‘Garbh Chriocha,’ Rough Bounds in which the cult of Bride has longest lived, abound in beautiful iridescent shells, and the mountains in bright sparkling stones, and these are utilised to adorn the ikon of Bride. In other districts where the figure of Bride is made, there are no shining shells, no brilliant crystals, and the girls decorate the image with artistically interlaced straw.

The older women are also busy on the Eve of Bride, and great preparations are made to celebrate her Day, which is the first day of spring. They make an oblong basket in the shape of a cradle, which they call ‘leaba Bride,’ the bed of Bride. It is embellished with much care. Then they take a choice sheaf of corn, generally oats, and fashion it into the form of a woman. They deck this ikon with gay ribbons from the loom, sparkling shells from the sea, and bright stones from the hill. All the sunny sheltered valleys around are searched for primroses, daisies, and other flowers that open their eyes in the morning of the year. This lay figure is called Bride, ‘dealbh Bride,’ the ikon of Bride. When it is dressed and decorated with all the tenderness and loving care the women can lavish upon it, one woman goes to the door of the house, and standing on the step with her hands on the jambs, calls softly into the darkness, ‘Tha leaba Bride deiseal,’ Bride’s bed is ready. To this a ready woman behind replies, ‘Thigeadh Bride steach, is e beatha Bride,’ Let Bride come in, Bride is welcome. The woman at the door again addresses Bride, ‘A Bhride! Bhride thig a stench, tha do leaba deanta. Gleidh an teach dh’an Triana,’ Bride! Bride, come thou in, thy bed is made. Preserve the house for the Trinity. The women then place the ikon of Bride with great ceremony in the bed they have so carefully prepared for it. They place a small straight white wand (the bark being peeled off) beside the figure. This wand is variously called ‘slatag Bride,’ the little rod of Bride, ‘slachdan Bride,’ the little wand of Bride, and ‘barrag Bride,’ the birch of Bride. The wand is generally of birch, broom, bramble, white willow, or other sacred wood, ‘crossed’ or banned wood being carefully avoided. A similar rod was given to the kings of Ireland at their coronation, and to the Lords of the Isles at their instatement. It was straight to typify justice, and white to signify peace and purity–bloodshed was not to be needlessly caused. The women then level the ashes on the hearth, smoothing and dusting them over carefully. Occasionally the ashes, surrounded by a roll of cloth, are placed on a board to safeguard them against disturbance from draughts or other contingencies. In the early morning the family closely scan the ashes. If they find the marks of the wand of Bride they rejoice, but if they find ‘long Bride,’ the footprint of Bride, their joy is very great, for this is a sign that Bride was present with them during the night, and is favourable to them, and that there is increase in family, in flock, and in field during the coming year. Should there be no marks on the ashes, and no traces of Bride’s presence, the family are dejected. It is to them a sign that she is offended, and will not hear their call. To propitiate her and gain her ear the family offer oblations and burn incense.

The serpent is supposed to emerge from its hollow among the hills on St Bride’s Day, and a propitiatory hymn was sung to it. Only one verse of this hymn has been obtained, apparently the first. It differs in different localities:–

‘Moch maduinn Bhride,
Thig an nimhir as an toll,
Cha bhoin mise ris an nimhir,
Cha bhoin an nimhir rium.’

Early on Bride’s morn
The serpent shall come from the hole,
I will not molest the serpent,
Nor will the serpent molest me.

Other versions say:–

La Feill na Bride,
Thig nighean Imhir as a chnoc,
Cha bhean mise do nighean
’S cha dean i mo lochd.’ [Imhir,

‘La Fheill Bride brisgeanach
Thig an ceann de in chaiteanach,
Thig nighean Iomhair as an tom
Le fonn feadalaich.’

‘Thig an nathair as an toll
La donn Bride,
Ged robh tri traighean dh’ an
Air leachd an lair.’ [t-sneachd

The Feast Day of the Bride,
The daughter of Ivor shall come from the knoll,
I will not touch the daughter of Ivor,
Nor shall she harm me.

On the Feast Day of Bride,
The head will come off the ‘caiteanach,’
The daughter of Ivor will come from the knoll
With tuneful whistling.

The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.
The ‘daughter of Ivor’ is the serpent; and it is said that the serpent will not sting a descendant of Ivor, he having made ‘tabhar agus tuis,’ offering and incense, to it, thereby securing immunity from its sting for himself and his seed for ever.

‘La Bride nam brig ban
Thig an rigen ran a tom,
Cha bhoin mise ris an rigen ran,
’S cha bhoin an rigen ran rium.’

On the day of Bride of the white hills
The noble queen will come from the knoll,
I will not molest the noble queen,
Nor will the noble queen molest me.

Bride is said to preside over the different seasons of the year and to bestow their functions upon them according to their respective needs. Some call January ‘am mios marbh,’ the dead month, some December, while some apply the terms, ‘na tri miosa marbh,’ the three dead months, ‘an raithe marbh,’ the dead quarter, and ‘raithe marbh na bliadhna,’ the dead quarter of the year, to the winter months when nature is asleep. Bride with her white wand is said to breathe life into the mouth of the dead Winter and to bring him to open his eyes to the tears and the smiles, the sighs and the laughter of Spring. The venom of the cold is said to tremble for its safety on Bride’s Day and to flee for its life on Patrick’s Day. There is a saying:–

‘Chuir Bride miar ’s an abhuinn
La na Feill Bride
Is dh’ fhalbh mathair ghuir an fhuachd,
Is nigh i basan anns an abhuinn
La na Feill Padruig
Is dh’ fhalbh mathair ghin an fhuachd.’

Bride put her finger in the river
On the Feast Day of Bride
And away went the hatching mother of the cold,
And she bathed her palms in the river
On the Feast Day of Patrick
And away went the conception mother of the cold,

Another version says:–

‘Chuir Brighid a bas ann,
Chuir Moire a cas ann,
Chuir Padruig a chiach fhuar ann.’ (?)

Bride put her palm in it,
Mary per her foot in it,
Patrick put the cold stone in it,

alluding to the decrease in cold as the year advances. In illustration of this is– ‘Chuir Moire meoirean anns an uisge La Fheili Bride is thug i neimh as, ’s La Fheill Padruig nigh i lamhan ann ’s dh’ fhalbh am fuachd uil as,’ Mary put her fingers in the water on Bride’s Feast Day and the venom went out of it, and on Patrick’s Feast Day she bathed her hands in it and all the cold went out of it.

Poems narrating the events of the seasons were current. That mentioning the occurrences of Spring begins:–

‘La Bride breith an earraich
Thig an dearrais as an tom,
Theirear “tri-bhliadhnaich” ri aighean,
Bheirear gearrain chon nam fonn.’

The Day of Bride, the birthday of Spring,
The serpent emerges from the knoll,
‘Three-years-olds’ is applied to heifers,
Garrons are taken to the fields.

In Uist the flocks are counted and dedicated to Bride on her Day.

‘La Fheill Bride boidheach
Cunntar spreidh air mointeach.
Cuirear fitheach chon na nide,
’S cuirear rithis rocais.’

On the Feast Day of beautiful Bride
The flocks are counted on the moor.
The raven goes to prepare the nest,
And again goes the rook.

Nead air Bhrighit, ugh air Inid, ian air Chasg,
Mar a bith aig an fhitheach bithidh am bas.’

Nest at Brigit, egg at Shrove, chick at Easter,
If the raven has not he has death.

The raven is the first bird to nest, closely followed by the mallard and the rook. It is affirmed that–

‘Co fad ’s a theid a ghaoth ’s an dorus
La na Feill Bride,
Theid an cathadh anns an dorus
La na Feill Paruig.’

As far as the wind shall enter the door
On the Feast Day of Bride,
The snow shall enter the door
On the Feast Day of Patrick.

From the Carmina Gadelica, Vol I—
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg1/cg1074.htm

 

Listen to, and try to use the given lyrics and pronunciation key to sing along with, a traditional song for Brìde, Gabhaim Molta Brìghde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP5FS6IXJJA

 

Recitation of relevant passage of the Four Fires of Brìde prayer ~

“Brighid, my heart is on fire for you-
Kindle thou my compassion, as you lovingly do.”

 

Prayer, Offering, & Silent Meditation ~

The compassion of the heart is the kindness, inclusiveness, and understanding that forges peace in our world. As our sun shines her light on all beings upon the land, so too can we extend this inclusiveness towards, and create peace with our fellow beings of the world. Consider this week how you might bring the light of kindness, inclusiveness, and understanding to make peace in the world, and how you might cultivate compassion and peace within yourself.

Close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths, breathing space into yourself, and sinking into yourself as you exhale.

Hold up a plate of cheese, bowl of yogurt, or cup of milk in offering for Brìde:

“Brìde, Giver of Light and Life, I offer You this gift of nourishment in gratitude and joy for all Your many blessings.

“Victorious Brigit,
Glory of kindred,
Queen of Summer,
Noble lady,
Perilous oath,
Far-flung flame.
She of the high heavens,
Gaeldom’s foster-mother,
Support of strangers,
Spark of wisdom,
Daughter of an Daghda,
High-minded lady,
Victorious Brigit,
The living one of life.”

~ adapted from In Praise of Brigit, from the Old Irish

 

Warm your hands over the lit flames, imagining Her energy and power collecting in them, and then place them over your heart —

“Brighid, may your crystal-clear light fill my heart with your illumination. May my Cauldron on Vocation be enlightened and directed by Your ‘reul-iuil Bride,’ you guiding star, and may Your light radiate from me like a sacred flame in a high temple, like a guiding beam from a lighthouse, like a candle in dark window, offering help and solace to all in need.

“I come here today to honor Your gifts of compassion and peace. I pray You might inspire and inform me, guide me and show me how I might best use them to bring Your Light into the world. How would you like me to keep Your Living Flame alight?”

Make yourself like an earthen temple of the Sun, directed towards and welcoming within its rays of light and illumination. Sit and allow Brìde’s light to work within you, to guide and inspire you. You might hum or play the song above to aid your meditation. If your attention wanders, recite or repeat the word, ‘welcome,’ or fàilte,’ in the Gaelic.

When you feel you have received some kind of guidance, insight, or inspiration, close the meditation with thanks—

“Brìde, Constant Companion and Maker of Song, I thank you for your guidance, inspiration, and insight. May Your Flame remain with me, lighting my way, and blessing my work. May I remain ever open to your signs and whispers. Mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas gu brath.”

Close the meditation with three breaths in and out—

“The fire is in the temple, (breathe in)
The light shines forth.” (breathe out)

 

Journal the signs, insights, and inspirations received, and share them with your Brighidine community if you are so moved to, along with any plans you have for manifesting them. Watch and listen over the week for further guidance which may come, journaling that, also. Lastly, consider and journal how you engage with the concepts of compassion and peace, how you express them in your life, how you can become more aware of them as expressions of honoring and caring for all life, which brings the light of justice to our world.

Brìde Bless!

Imbolc Advent ~ Third Sunday

Opening for Third Sunday ~

Begin this third Sunday by lighting your first and second candles which you lit last Sunday, and your third candle, going around sunwise.

Recite this Flame Lighting Prayer ~

Brìde, Excellent, Exalted One,
Bright, golden, quickening flame ~
Shine Your blessings on us from the Otherworld,
You, Radiant Fire of the Sun.

 

Inspirational Reading & Song ~

THE PRAISES OF BRI’DE

Brìde of the mantles, Brìde of the peat-heap, Brìde of the twining hair, Brìde of the augury,
Brìde of the white feet, Brìde of the calmness, Brìde of the white palms, Brìde of the kine,
Brìde, anam chara, Brìde of the peat-heap, Brìde, maker of song, Brìde, foster-mother.
Each day and each night I recite the Praises of Brìde,
I shall not be slain, I shall not be wounded, I shall not be put in cell, I shall not be despoiled, I shall not be down-trodden, I shall not be rent, nor will the Shining Ones leave me forgotten.
Nor sun shall burn me, nor fire shall burn me, nor beam shall burn me, nor moon shall burn me.
Nor river shall drown me, nor brine shall drown me, nor flood shall drown me, nor water shall drown me.
Nightmare shall not lie on me, black sleep shall not lie on me, spell-sleep shall not lie on me, sleeplessness shall not lie on me.
I am under the shielding of good Brìde each day; I am under the shielding of good Brìde each night.
I am under the keeping of my foster-mother; my companion beloved is Brìde.

~ adapted from the prayer Praises of Brìde in the Carmina Gadelica, Vol III by Alexander Carmichael

 

EOLAS AN T-SNIAMH [130] CHARM OF THE SPRAIN

CHAR Bride mach
Maduinn mhoch,
Le caraid each;
Bhris each a chas,
Le uinich och,
Bha sid mu seach,
Chuir i cnamh ri cnamh,
Chuir i feoil ri feoil,
Chuir i feithe ri feithe,
Chuir i cuisle ri cuisle;
Mar a leighis ise sin
Gun leighis mise seo.

BRIDE went out
In the morning early,
With a pair of horses;
One broke his leg,
With much ado,
That was apart,
She put bone to bone,
She put flesh to flesh,
She put sinew to sinew,
She put vein to vein;
As she healed that
May I heal this.

From the Carmina Gadelica, Vol II, compiled by Alexander Carmichael, http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg2/cg2011.htm

 

Listen to, and try to use the given lyrics and pronunciation key to sing along with, a traditional song for Brìde, Gabhaim Molta Brìghde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP5FS6IXJJA

 

Recitation of relevant passage of the Four Fires of Brìde prayer ~

“Brighid, my hearth is on fire for you-
Kindle thou my restoration, as you gently do.”

This aspect of Brìde speaks to Her role as Healer, and the keeper of health. As the hearth fire provides the heat for boiling water and infusing healing herbs for the body, so our own inner Cauldron of Warming, the energy center in our pelvic region, is the hearth fire and boiler of our bodies, energetically powering our vitality and health. Through connecting with this inner fire of ours, we can tap into Brìde’s restorative, healing power within our bodies, just as the fire at the center of the earth powers the planet.

 

Meditation & Journaling ~

The hearth fire is also a place of welcoming, inviting people to gather around for warmth, food, comfort, and company, serving as an icon of hospitality. Similarly, the company and warmth we extend to others is a form of personal hospitality, providing another source of comfort. This Sunday, consider how you can bring healing and hospitality to those around you, and how you can deepen these qualities within yourself.

Close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths, breathing space into yourself, and sinking into yourself as you exhale.

Hold up a plate of cheese, bowl of yogurt, or cup of milk as offering for Brìde:

“Brìde, Giver of Light and Life, I offer You this gift of nourishment in gratitude and joy for all Your many blessings.

“Victorious Brigit,
Glory of kindred,
Queen of Summer,
Noble lady,
Perilous oath,
Far-flung flame.
She of the high heavens,
Gaeldom’s foster-mother,
Support of strangers,
Spark of wisdom,
Daughter of an Daghda,
High-minded lady,
Victorious Brigit,
The living one of life.”

~ adapted from In Praise of Brigit, from the Old Irish

Warm your hands over the lit flame, imagining her energy and power collecting in them, and then place them over your pelvic region, just below your navel, cupping your Cauldron of Warming, and blessing your seat of inner health and hospitality with her light—

“Brighid, may your heat and vitality ignite my Cauldron of Warming. May my inner fire be ever stoked by your gentle hand, and may health and well-being radiate from within me like a steady flame, restoring me to balance when my reserves run low. May I also be mindful of extending this inner warmth to others, inviting those with whom I engage into the hospitality of supportive and comforting conviviality.

“I come here today to honor Your gifts of healing and hospitality. I pray You might inspire and inform me, guide me and show me how I might best use them to bring Your Light into the world. How would you like me to keep Your Living Flame alight?”

Make yourself like an earthen temple of the Sun, directed towards and welcoming within its rays of light and illumination. Sit and allow Brìde’s light to work within you, to guide and inspire you. You might hum or play the song above to aid your meditation. If your attention wanders, recite or repeat the word, ‘welcome,’ or fàilte,’ in the Gaelic.

When you feel you have received some kind of guidance, insight, or inspiration, close the meditation with thanks—

“Brìde, Constant Companion and Maker of Song, I thank you for your guidance, inspiration, and insight. May Your Flame remain with me, lighting my way, and blessing my work. May I remain ever open to your signs and whispers. Mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas gu brath.”

Release the meditation with this recitation and breath, three times—
“The fire is in the temple, (breath in)
The light shines forth.” (breathe out)

Journal the signs, insights, and inspirations received, and share them with your Brighidine community if you like, along with any plans you have for manifesting them. Watch and listen over the week for further guidance which may come, and journal that, also. Lastly, consider and journal how you engage with the concepts of healing and hospitality, how you express them in your life, how you can become more aware of them as aspects of supporting all life, and how you can better support all life yourself in the coming year.

Brìde Bless!

 

Clann Bhride on Kiva

Proud to be part of Team Clann Bhride on Kiva!

Clann Bhride

We at Clann Bhride believe that our Lady has called us to works of charity, justice, and compassion. Our Touchstones urge us to “offer generosity and hospitality to those in need, without judgment or expectation of reward” and  to “work for peace, freedom, and justice for all.” Our Nine Elements reference Brighid in Her manifestations as Brig Ambue, who advocated for the disenfranchised, and as Brig Briugu, who offered food and shelter to all in need. Because our goddess is generous and calls us to be generous in turn, we are taking the first steps to actively encourage generosity among our members by announcing the Clann Bhride team on Kiva.

What is Kiva?

Kiva is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is alleviating poverty through microfinance. Entrepreneurs around the world connect with local financial institutions, who vet their clients and establish a loan process. Members of Kiva then lend as little as $25…

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Imbolc Advent ~Second Sunday

Opening for Second Sunday ~

Begin this second Sunday by lighting your first candle which you lit last Sunday, and your second candle, going around sunwise.

Recite this Flame Lighting Prayer ~

“Brìde, Excellent, Exalted One,
Bright, golden, quickening flame ~
Shine Your blessings on us from the Otherworld,
You, Radiant Fire of the Sun.”

 

Inspirational Reading & Song ~

St. Briget of the Shores
From Where the Forest Murmurs by Fiona MacLeod

I have heard many names of St. Briget, most beloved of Gaelic saints, with whom the month of February is identified—the month of “Bride min, gentle St. Bride”—Brighid boitiheach Muime Chriosd, Bride the Beautiful, Christ’s Foster Mother . . . but there are three so less common that many even of my readers familiar with the Highland West may not know them. These are “the Fair Woman of February,” “St. Bride of the Kindly Fire,” and “St. Bride (or Briget) of the Shores.” They are of the Isles, and may be heard in some of the sgeulachdan gàidhealach, or Gaelic tales, still told among seafaring and hill folk, where the curse of cheap ignoble periodicals is unknown and books are rare. True, in several of the isles—Colonsay, Tirce, the Outer Hebrides—“St. Bride of the Shores” is not infrequent in songs and seasonal hymns, for when her signals are seen along the grey beaches, on the sandy machars, by the meadow path, the glen-track, the white shore-road, the islanders know that the new year is disclosed at last, that food, warmth, and gladness are coming out of the south. As “the Fair Woman of February,” though whatever other designation St. Bride goes by, she is often revealed. Her humble yellow fires are lit among the grasses, on the shore-ways, during this month. Everywhere in the Gaelic lands “Candlemas-Queen” is honoured at this time. An Fheill Bhride, the Festival of St. Briget, was, till recently a festival of joy throughout the west, from the Highland Line to the last weedy shores of Barra or the Lews: in the isles and in the remote Highlands, still is.

It is an old tale, this association of St. Briget with February. It goes further back than the days of the monkish chroniclers who first attempted to put the disguise of verbal Christian raiment on the most widely-loved and revered beings of the ancient Gaelic pantheon. Long before the maiden Brigida (whether of Ireland or Scotland matters little) made her fame as a “daughter of God”; long before to Colum in Iona or to Patrick “the great Cleric” in Ireland “Holy St. Bride” revealed in a vision the service she had done to Mary and the Child in far-away Bethlehem in the East; before ever the first bell of Christ was heard by startled Druids coming across the hills and forest lands of Gaul, the Gaels worshiped a Brighde or Bride, goddess of women, of fire, of poetry. When, to-day, a Gaelic islesman alludes to Briget of the Songs, or when a woman of South Uist prays to Good St. Bride to bless the empty cradle that is soon to be filled, or when a shennachie or teller of tales speaks of an oath taken by Briget of the Flame, they refer, though probably unconsciously, to a far older Brighid than do they who speak with loving familiarity of Mume Chriosd, Christ’s Foster Mother, or Brighid-nam-Bratta, St. Bride of the Mantle. They refer to one who in the dim, far-off days of the forgotten pagan world of our ancestors was a noble and great goddess. They refer to one to whom the women of the Gael went with offerings and prayers, as went the women of ancient Hellas to the temples of Aphroditê, as went the Syrian women to the altars of Astarte, as went the women of Egypt to the milk-fed shrines of Isis. They refer to one whom the Druids held in honour as a torch bearer of the eternal light, a Daughter of the Morning, who held sunrise in one hand as a little yellow flame, and in the other held the red flower of fire without which men would be as the beasts who live in caves and holes, or as the dark Fómor who have their habitations in cloud and wind and the wilderness. They refer to one whom the bards and singers revered as mistress of their craft, she whose breath was a flame, and that flame song: she whose secret name was fire and whose inmost soul was radiant air, she therefore who was the divine impersonation of the divine thing she stood for, Poetry.

“St. Bride of the Kindly Fire,” of whom one may hear to-day as “oh, just Bhrighde min Muim (gentle St. Bride the Foster Mother), she herself an’ no other,” is she, that ancient goddess, whom our ancestors saw lighting the torches of sunrise on the brows of hills, or thrusting the quenchless flame above the horizons of the sea: whom the Druids hailed with hymns at the turn of the year, when, in the season we call February, the firstcomers of the advancing Spring are to be seen on the grey land or on the grey wave or by the grey shores: whom every poet, from the humblest wandering singer to Oisin of the Songs, from Oisin of the Songs to Angus Òg on the rainbow or to Midir of the Under-world, blessed, because of the flame she put in the heart of poets as well as the red life she put in the flame that springs from wood and peat. None forgot that she was the daughter of the ancient God of the Earth, but greater than he, because in him there was but earth and water, whereas in her veins ran the elements of air and fire. Was she not born at sunrise? On the day she reached womanhood did not the house wherein she dwelled become wrapped in a flame which consumed it not, though the crown of that flame licked the high unburning roof of Heaven? In that hour when, her ancient divinity relinquished and she reborn a Christian saint, she took the white veil, did not a column of golden light rise from her head till no eyes could follow it? In that moment when she died from earth, having taken mortality upon her so as to know a divine resurrection to a new and still more enduring Country of the Immortal, were there not wings of fire seen flashing along all the shores of the west and upon the summits of all Gaelic hills? And how could one forget that at any time she had but to bend above the dead, and her breath would quicken, and a pulse would come back into the still heart, and what was dust would arise and be once more glad.

The Fair Woman of February is still loved, still revered. Few remember the last fading traditions of her ancient greatness: few, even, know that she lived before the coming of the Cross: but all love her, because of her service to Mary in Her travail and to the newborn Child, and because she looks with eyes of love into every cradle and puts the hand of peace on the troubled hearts of women: and all delight in her return to the world after the ninety days of the winter-sleep, when her heralds are manifest.

What, then, are the insignia of St. Briget of the Shores? They are simple. They are the dandelion, the lamb, and the sea-bird, popularly called the oyster-opener. From time immemorial, this humble, familiar yellow plant of the wayside has been identified with St. Bride. To this day shepherds, on Am Fheill Bhrighde, are wont to hear among the mists the crying of innumerable young lambs, and this without the bleating of ewes, and so by that token know that Holy St. Bride has passed by, coming earthward with her flock of the countless lambs soon to be born on all the hillsides and pastures of the world. Fisherfolk on the shores of the west and on the far isles have gladdened at the first prolonged repetitive whistle of the oyster-opener, for its advent means that the hosts of the good fish are moving towards the welcoming coasts once more, that the wind of the south is unloosened, that greenness will creep to the grass, that birds will seek the bushes, that song will come to them, and that everywhere a new gladness will be abroad. By these signs is St. Briget of the Shores known. One, perhaps, must live in the remote places, and where wind and cloud, rain and tempest, great tides and uprising floods are the common companions of day and night, in order to realise the joy with which things so simple are welcomed. To see the bright sun-sweet face of the dandelion once more—am dealan Dhé, the little flame of God, am bearnan Bhrighde, St. Bride’s forerunner—what a joy this is. It comes into the grass like a sunray. Often before the new green is in the blade it flaunts its bright laughter in the sere bent. It will lie in ditches and stare at the sun. It will climb broken walls, and lean from nooks and corners. It will come close to the sands and rocks, sometimes will even join company with the seapink, though it cannot find footing where later the bind-weed and the horned poppy, those children of the sea-wind who love to be near and yet shrink from the spray of the salt wave, defy wind and rain. It is worthier the name “Traveller’s Joy” than the wild clematis of the autumnal hedgerows: for its bright yellow leaps at one from the roadside like a smile, and its homeliness is pleasant as the gladness of playing children.

It is a herald of Spring that precedes even the first loud flute-like calls of the misselthrush. When snow is still on the track of the three winds of the north it is, by the wayside, a glad companion. Soon it will be everywhere. Before long the milk-white sheen of the daisy and the moon-daisy, the green-gold of the tansy, the pale gold of the gorse and the broom, the yellow of the primrose and wild colchicum, of the cowslip and buttercup, of the copse-loving celandine and meadow-rejoicing crowsfoot, all these yellows of first spring will soon be abroad: but the dandelion comes first. I have known days when, after midwinter, one could go a mile and catch never a glimpse of this bright comrade of the ways, and then suddenly see one or two or three, and rejoice forthwith as though at the first blossom on the blackthorn, at the first wild-roses, at the first swallow, at the first thrilling bells of the cuckoo. We are so apt to lose the old delight in familiar humble things. So apt to ignore what is by the way, just because it is by the way. I recall a dour old lowland gardener in a loch-and-hill-set region of Argyll, who, having listened to exclamations of delight at a rainbow, muttered, “Weel, I juist think naethin ava’ o’ yon rainbows; ye can see one whenever ye tak the trouble to look for them hereaboots.” He saw them daily, or so frequently that for him all beauty and strangeness had faded from these sudden evanescent Children of Beauty. Beauty has only to be perceptible to give an immediate joy; and it is no paradoxical extravagance to say that one may receive the thrilling communication from “the little flame of God” by the homely roadside, as well as from these leaning towers built of air and water which a mysterious alchemy reveals to us on the cloudy deserts of heaven. “Man is surprised,” Emerson says, “to find that things near and familiar are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote.” Certainly no Gaelic lover of St. Bride’s Flower, of the Flower of February, but rejoices to see its welcome face after the snow and sleet of winter have first sullenly receded, if only for a time, and to know that St. Bride of the Shores wears it at her breast, and that when she throws it broadcast the world is become a green place again and the quickening sunlight a gladsome reality.

In these desolate far isles where life is so hard, where the grey winds from the north and east prevail for weeks at a time on the grey tempestuous seas, and where so much depends on such small things—a little driftwood, a few heaps of peat, a few shoal of fish now of one kind now of another, a few cartloads of seaweed, a rejoicing sound is that in truth when the Gille-Bhride is heard crying along the shores. Who that has heard its rapid whirling cry as its darts from haunt to haunt but will recognise its own testimony to being “Servant of Breed” (the common pronunciation of the Gaelic Brighid or Bride)—for does it not cry over and over again with swift incessant iterance, Gilly-breed, gilly-breed, gilly-breed, gilly-breed, gilly-breed?

“White may my milking be,
White as thee;
Thy face is white, thy neck is white,
Thy hands are white, thy feet are white,
For thy sweet soul is shining bright—
O dear to me,
O dear to see,
St. Briget White!
Yellow may my butter be,
Firm, and round:
Thy breasts are sweet,
Firm, round, and sweet,
So may my butter be:
So may my butter be, O
Briget Sweet!
Safe thy way is, safe, O
Safe, St. Bride:
May my kyne come home at even,
None be fallin’, none be leavin’,
Dusky even, breath-sweet even,
Here, as there, where O
St. Bride thou
Keepest tryst with God in heav’n,
Seest the angels bow
And souls be shriven—
Here, as there, ’tis breath-sweet even
Far and wide—
Singeth thy little maid
Safe in thy shade
Briget, Bride!

When the first lambs appear, many are the invocations among the Irish and Hebridean Gaels to good St. Bride. At the hearth-side, too, the women, carding wool, knitting, telling tales, singing songs, dreaming—these know her whether they name her in thought, or have forgotten what was dear wisdom to their mothers of old. She leans over cradles, and when babies smile they have seen her face. When the cra’thull swings in the twilight the slow rhythm, which is music in the mother’s ear, is the quiet clapping of her hushing hands. St. Bride, too, loves the byres or the pastures when the kyne are milked, though now she is no longer “the Woman of February,” but simply good St. Bride of the yellow hair.

 

Listen to, and try to use the given lyrics and pronunciation key to sing along with, a traditional song for Brìde, Gabhaim Molta Brìghde:

 

Recitation of relevant passage of the Four Fires of Brìde prayer ~

“Brighid, my hands are on fire for you-
Kindle thou my creation, as you skillfully do.”

 

Prayer, Offering, and Silent Meditation ~

The hands on fire is a reference to both smithing, as Brigid in Ireland was traditionally said to consist of three sisters, one of whom was a blacksmith, and to crafting, as the Romans related the Gaulish Brigindo to their Minerva, goddess of arts and crafts. Consider this Sunday how your hands create and craft in your life, and how they might use those skills to bring Brìde’s light into the world.

Close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths, breathing space into yourself, and sinking into yourself as you exhale.

Hold up a plate of cheese, bowl of yogurt, or cup of milk as an offering for Brìde:

“Brìde, Giver of Light and Life, I offer You this gift of nourishment in gratitude and joy for Your many blessings.

“Victorious Brigit,
Glory of kindred,
Queen of Summer,
Noble lady,
Perilous oath,
Far-flung flame.
She of the high heavens,
Gaeldom’s foster-mother,
Support of strangers,
Spark of wisdom,
Daughter of an Daghda,
High-minded lady,
Victorious Brigit,
The living one of life.”
~ adapted from In Praise of Brigit, from the Old Irish

Warm hands over the lit flame, imagining her energy and essence collecting there, and blessing your hands with her light—

“Brighid, may your bright fire and warmth bless my hands with Your spark of creativity, Your power of creation, and Your light of life. May Your flame be kindled in my hands.

“I honor Your smith’s gift of artistry and creating. I pray for Your inspiration and guidance to please show me how I might best use crafting to bring Your Light into the world at this time. How would you like me, in this moment, to keep Your Living Flame alight?”

Make yourself like an earthen temple of the Sun, directed towards and welcoming within its rays of light and illumination. Sit and allow Brìde’s light to work within you, to guide and inspire you. You might hum or play the song above to aid your meditation. If your attention wanders, recite or repeat the word, ‘welcome,’ or ‘fàilte,’ in the Gaelic.

When you feel you have received some kind of guidance, insight, or inspiration, close the meditation with thanks—

“Brìde, Constant Companion and Maker of Song, I thank you for your inspiration and insight. May Your Flame remain within me, lighting my way, and blessing my work. May I remain ever open to your signs and whispers. Mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas gu brath.”

Release the meditation with this recitation and breath, three times—
“The fire is in the temple, (breath in)
The light shines forth.” (breathe out)

Journal the signs, insights, and inspirations received, and share them with your Brighidine community, along with any plans you have for manifesting them. Watch and listen over the week for further guidance which may come, journaling that, also. Lastly, consider and journal the power of art, and how you might use your artistry and crafting in the coming year to bring more light to both the world around you, and those with whom you interact.

First Sunday Edit

NB:

In case anyone printed out the First Sunday Imbolc Advent ritual, there was a small but important typo I caught late and just edited, in the poem, Brigit Speaks.

The first two lines after those lines referencing Friday and Monday should read,

“And in Tir-na-h’oige my name is
Suibhal bheann: Mountain Traveler,”

The word ‘bheann‘ had been omitted.  Mea culpa; please edit your copies accordingly.  Also be aware that there are version of this poem online also missing this word.

Brìde Bless!

Imbolc Advent ~ First Sunday

*Opening for first Sunday ~
Begin by lighting your first candle, remembering that you will be proceeding sunwise around the candles each following Sunday.
Recite this Flame Lighting Prayer ~
Brìde, Excellent, Exalted One,
Bright, golden, quickening flame ~
Shine Your blessings on us from the Otherworld,
You, Radiant Fire of the Sun.

 

*Inspirational Reading and Song ~

Brigit Speaks
I am older than Brigit of the Mantle,
I put songs and music on the wind
Before ever the bells of the chapels
Were rung in the West
Or heard in the East.

I am Brighid-nam-Bratta:
Brigit of the Mantle,

I am also Brighid-Muirghin-na-tuinne:
Brigit, Conception of the Waves,

And Brighid-sluagh,
Brigit of the Faery Host,
Brighid-nan-sitheachseang,
Brigit of the Slim Faery Folk,

Brigid-Binne-Bheule-
Ihuchd-nan-trusganan-uaine,
Brigit the Melodious Mouthed
Of the Tribe of the Green Mantles.

And I am older than Aone (Friday)
And as old as Luan (Monday)

And in Tir-na-h’oige my name is
Suibhal bheann: Mountain Traveler,
And in Tir-fo-thuinn, Country of the Waves,
It is Cu-gorm: Gray Hound,
And in Tir-na-h’oise,
Country of Ancient Years,
It is Sireadh-thall: Seek Beyond.

And I have been a breath in your heart,
And the day has its feet to it
That will see me coming
Into the hearts of men and women
Like a flame upon dry grass,
Like a flame of wind in a great wood.
-Fiona MacLeod –

 

Listen to, and try to use the given lyrics and pronunciation key to sing along with, a traditional song for Brìde, Gabhaim Molta Brìghde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP5FS6IXJJA

 

*Recitation of relevant passage of the Four Fires of Brìde prayer ~
“Brighid, my head is on fire for you-
Kindle thou my inspiration, as you passionately do.”

 

*Prayer, Offering & Silent Meditation ~
The ‘fire in the head’ was traditionally the flame of the poet’s inspiration. The poet served an important role in traditional Celtic society, speaking to cosmic truths, and reminding some when they were no longer living in alignment with it, especially when those in power failed to do so.

Close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths, breathing space into yourself, and sinking into yourself as you exhale.

Hold up your plate of cheese, bowl of yogurt, or cup of milk as an offering to Brìde:

“Brìde, Giver of Light and Life, I offer You this gift of nourishment in gratitude and joy for Your many blessings.

“Victorious Brigit,
Glory of kindred,
Queen of Summer,
Noble lady,
Perilous oath,
Far-flung flame.
She of the high heavens,
Gaeldom’s foster-mother,
Support of strangers,
Spark of wisdom,
Daughter of an Daghda,
High-minded lady,
Victorious Brigit,
The living one of life.”

~ adapted from In Praise of Brigit, from the Old Irish

Warm your hands over the lit flame, imagining her energy and essence collecting there. Place them over your forehead, cupping your Cauldron of Knowledge, your cranium, and blessing your seat of inner vision and wisdom with Her Light—

“Brighid, may the illumination of your starshine and sunlight fill my Cauldron of Knowledge. May my inner vision be ever honed to glimpse your insight, and my inner ear be ever tuned to hear your voice. May I be ever able to perceive the world through your wisdom, and ever able to embody it in my daily living. May your living flame be kindled within my head.

“I honor Your poet’s gift of wordsmithing. I pray for Your inspiration and guidance to please show me how I might best use wordsmithing to bring Your Light into the world at this time. How would you like me, in this moment, to keep Your Living Flame alight?”

Make yourself like an earthen temple of the Sun, directed towards and welcoming within its rays of light and illumination. Sit and allow Brìde’s light to work within you, to guide and inspire you. You might hum or play the song above to aid your meditation. If your attention wanders, recite or repeat the word, ‘welcome,’ or fàilte,’ in the Gaelic.

When you feel you have received some kind of guidance, insight, or inspiration, close the meditation with thanks—

“Brìde, Constant Companion and Maker of Song, I thank you for your inspiration and insight. May Your Flame remain within me, lighting my way, and blessing my work. May I remain ever open to your signs and whispers. Mar a bha, mar a tha, mar a bhitheas gu brath.”

(The Gaelic is pronounced, ‘mar a VAH, mar a HA, mar a VEE-us guh-BRA,’ and means, ‘as it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be.’)

Journal the signs, insights, and inspirations received, and share them with your Brighidine community, along with any plans you have for manifesting them. Watch and listen over the week for further guidance which may come, journaling that, also. How are you moved to respond? What does She ask of you? How can you generate more personal awareness of Brìde’s poetic inspiration in your life, and how you might bring Her light to the world around you through that? Lastly, consider and journal how you use your words with others, the power of words, and how you might best use them and their power as you engage with others around you.