“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.
Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.”

~ Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull ~

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Goddess Brigit

With January fast approaching it's end, it's time to look forward to the month of February and all that it brings. There's Candlemas/Imbolg on February 2nd (which is also my dad's birthday), Valentine's Day (I'll post a separate post for that) there's Lupercalia, The Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece, Brigit's Eve, The Feast Day of Saint Brigid, festivals of the British Isles and the Norse, and so many others.

February 1st is the feast day of Brigit (pronounced 'Bree-id). She is a singular goddess made up of contradictions; a goddess of fire and water, of will and compassion, intensely focused on her mission of protection and care for her people, a healer who is also a warrior, a humble milkmaid who commands miracles, and a goddess of fertility.

Brigit is one of the great goddesses (along with Isis, Ishtar, Hera and Freya) who has been with us for hundreds of thousands of years. Her legends were handed down through the generations in an oral tradition that was eroded and then assimilated into the new faith of Christianity. Despite the fact that she was a diety so high and sacred, hardly any of her mythology was recorded.

Brigit is often depicted as a triple goddess. In her solitary form she carries a spear and an orb or globe. Sometimes she is seen wearing a green mantle, which may be a sign of her connection with Faery Folk. In folklore, Brigit means 'fiery arrow', 'bright arrow', or 'the bright one'. 'Fiery arrow' has become a fitting image for Brigit since it conveys the idea of the bright flame that has come to be associated with her, along with a sense of her directness, her ability to get straight to the point and the force of her energy.

As a healer, Brigit taught leechcraft and the properties of healing herbs, and was patroness of dozens of sacred springs and wells said to have healing properties. Many of these springs and wells are still visited today. Sunlight and water were considered to be especially effective in curing ailments of the eyes, which was one of the goddess' specialities. Along with her mantle, any fabric blessed by her was said to have healing effects. She was the first goddess to master the art of weaving, and into the cloth she placed healing threads that still exercise their healing powers centuries later.

Brigit is also seen as a fire goddess, a fertility and birth goddess, a smith, a poet and a warrior. She is one of the Great Goddesses of Life and Death. She was goddess of agriculture and household arts such as weaving, dyeing and making beer. She is also credited with inventing whistling as a way to signal to her friends in the darkness.

Red and white are the colors most commonly used for this holiday. White representing the snow of the departing winter and red for the hearthfire or Brigit's eternal flame. White also represents the Maiden goddess and red symbolizes the Mother. You might like to use white tablecloths for your altar with red candles, or like I have done, use a red tablecloth with candles in both red and white.

I made a corn dolly, which I posted previously, and have now laid her in the Bride's bed, thus the Crone who guarded the house during the winter is now transformed into the Maiden who awaits the God so that together they may initiate spring. I used a dowel (wand) wrapped in blue and white ribbon to represent the God, who is changing from the babe of Yule into the Youth of Ostara.

Bride's Bed Ritual

On Imbolc eve set the Bride's bed on the fireplace hearth or on your altar. Set incense in front and a white taper candle at either end of the bed. Have the wand nearby. Light the incense and the candles and say:

"Welcome the Bride turned from Mother to Maiden;
to rest and prepare for the time of the seed.
Cleansed and refreshed from the labors behind her;
with the promise of spring she lays before me."

Lay the decorated wand in the basket beside the corn dolly and say:

"How soon comes the Lord; how quickly he grows!
The season will turn; before we know."

Let the candles burn for a while, then snuff them before going to bed. In the morning, check for any marks in the hearth ash or other disturbance around the dolly as indication that the God has been there, thus signaling an early spring! The dolly may be removed from the bed and kept until replaced at Lughnassadh by a new dolly, then the wheat may be scattered as an offering outdoors.

Brigit's Cross is another familiar symbol and was most likely a sun emblem. It may also have represented the four quarters of the year. I made one using white pipe cleaners and tied the ends together with white ribbon. You can also make them in red or a combination of both. Traditionally, Brigit's crosses are made out of reeds, but being I live in the frozen north, pipe cleaners are the way to go. I may harvest some reeds this summer and make the crosses up ahead of time, so that they're ready and available next year.

Now is a good time to start thinking about spring house cleaning and also performing a house cleansing and blessing ceremony. It's also a good time to get rid of all the old stuff that has been cluttering your home and creating negativity. Now would also be a good time to create sacred space (if you haven't done so already), create or recreate your altar and cleanse and consecrate your ritual tools.

Keep your hope alive . . . spring is just around the corner!



Kiki aka Victoria said...

Beautiful tribute to Brigit..wonderful, magical and inspiring..wishing you many new blessings this season!! Shine on!

Lisa Balazs (Seshat Moon Willow) said...

Hi Tereza,

What a lovely post! Thank you so much and I must sit down and make my corn dolly. I've been meaning to and it just seems like life always interrupts and gets too hectic. The pictures are lovely and so inspiring. I just love your Bride's Bed Ritual and thank you for sharing. You blog always inspires me and now I must get to working on some of the ideas you have inspired in me!! Many blessings to you!
In Love and Light, Seshat

Lavarie - Seifen und anderer Wahn said...

That is a wonderful article and so lovingly detailed - thank you very much for it!
I stumbled over a very detailed site about brighid and Imbolc, when I searched for information some time ago - if you don't know it yet, you might find it interesting as well: http://www.druidry.org/obod/festivals/imbolc/
Have a blessed and beautyful day :-)

Mina said...

Very informative and well written post. I love your corn dolly and Brigit's Cross. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Love your corn dolly and the pipe cleaner brighid's cross. I should make one using pipe cleaners because I always break the straw that I use and get frustrated! Just found your blog and am subscribing now. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I've been researching Brighid, lots of great information! I might make one of those pipe cleaner crosses too.