to the arrival of worshipers, we arranged the altar before the sacred tree.
Candles crisscrossed in a knot pattern on a white silken cloth, interspersed
with white roses, glass beads, and statues of Brigid from Bettys altar.
We assembled small packages of joss paper, pencils and Brigids brats,
which are cloths left out on Imbolc Eve to receive her blessing. We formed
a dolly of wheat, garbing her in white lace. And then the socialization
occurred as people trickled in, and then the rite.
I drummed and sang the Brigid song on the porch as the insiders prepared
the hallway. Once Norma let us in, Jack went first, escorting Bride in her
wicker basket. We received the blessings of eartha dab of Stonehenge
dirt on the forehead, and watera splash of said stuff, and air incense,
before parting the purple veil and entering the room. Once inside, I sang
as they processed, one by one, passing Jack and Bride, taking a package
for later use. Jack recited Brigids banns as we lit the 13 candles,
and then the chime announced the start. We invoked the earth mother (Vigile),
the directions (Josh), the well (Sandrock), the fire (Jenniforensic), and
the tree (Brenda), the ancestors (Nej), the nature spirits (Deb), the gods
and goddesses (Carol) with the usual aplomb and songs. Somewhere in there,
Ed summoned Brigid again as muse, while Norma opened the gates, with Manannan.
Erica cursed, drank the outsiders offering and left the ritual, as
outsiders must. She didnt come back. And Brigid felt sad at her harsh
words, for her husband, Breas, is Fomhoire, and she does not mean to drive
any from her service.
After Bettys long, lovely invocation to Bride, we had the usual
praise offerings: a song by Nora, poems by others. Jack offered the
portraits of Brigid that hed drawn while the ritual progressed
(click here). We had a main sacrifice
scheduled for Bride. As the ritual went on, I sat beside the sacred
tree, ready with the water to make offerings in the hazel-nut-speckled
well. Brigid, it seemed, wanted to occupy the lawn chair of power. She
sat there briefly, and then flitted to Bettys side to assist in
the invocation. Well, you can use me if you will, said I,
clad in long green dress and torque. Use me, sit on me. Ill
be your avatar, your vessel, as long as you let me run the ritual.
A silent conversation. And as I gazed at the 13 flames, I seemed to
fall into them, dazzled by brightness. The room seemed full of golden
light, and my body was filled with a strange giddiness, although my
mind was observant, at a distance. Still in control. As the others recited,
I smiled in gleeher glee at the honor, the attention; flattery.
I realized we had not left a piece of bread aside for her as the main
sacrifice. Why not take it yourself, then? I asked silently.
And she did. I rose and I spoke but the words were not me. You forgot
my offering. You try to be conscientious, but sometimes you forget. So Ill
take it my damned self. She spoke through me, and my inner eyes watched
distantly as she strode across the room, picking in disappointment over
the unassembled feast. She thumbed her nose at the organic milk and the
roast chicken. I sensed she wanted sweetness, confections of a sort. She
picked out some scones, some carrots (I like orange), a shiny
red apple (this will do) and a half-drunk bottle of hard cider
(this will definitely do.) Id eat them now, but
youre all looking at me, she said. So Ill put them
behind the tree. Put them out for me later, dont forget. You try to
be conscientious, but sometimes you forget. She grabbed the sickle
from the mantle, and touched the food. Since you didnt bless
it for me, Ill bless it my damn self.
And then she left, but not entirely, as she was still present in the ritual.
Filled with strange rollicking laughter, I fell to my knees. Now back
to our regularly scheduled program. And then I pressed my head to
the floor as I smiled and laughed, filled with a strange fiery energy and
lightness. And then on to the omens, which I do not remember. The waters
of life, poured and distributed. I played my dulcimer and sang Brigid
of the healers to the rustle of papers, as participants wrote down
the projects they wish to foster in the waxing year. And then I donned my
silver cloak and sandals and led the walk outside, to burn the doll and
We did so, on a nest of yuletide greens. The flames shot upward from the
hibachi, brilliant in the darkness, and we stretched our hands forward for
warmth. Vigile led chants, and we sang to goddess and god. And then, spontaneously,
we broke into auld lang syne. I offered the prayers to Brigid,
and closed the rite, herding people into the chamber of warmth. Thankfully,
Nora supplied me with a plate of grounding food after I draped myself, rollicking
giddy and ritual-drunk, on the couch. And slowly, the giddiness drained
and I became myself entirely again.
[We had 29 in attendance. To look at a few Imbolc photos go to http://www.othergods.org/photoimbolc03/photoimbolc03.html
Our omens: Broom, Beech, Spindle and Ash. We have our magical
tools, we have our scholarly tools, now we need to work with them in
our hearths and in our communities, gathering ancient knowledge from
nature herself and from doing in the world. Additional odd omen:
Brenda & Jims Bridget peirogies. See photos on
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