Happy Imbolc

I hope everyone is having a nice holiday. I’ll post my full ritual below, but I wanted to share a few thoughts first.

It’s very cold here, by far the coldest day we’ve had this winter. But the snow that’s on the ground has filled the mountain lakes, will melt into the rivers, and will–in a few months–become the life-giving water here on the edge of the desert. Nearby, the Santa Cruz river flows on beneath its crusted, icy surface, the snow hardly an impediment to its force. Somewhere underneath the frozen earth, too, life is stirring. We may not see it right now, but it’s there, and Brigid’s fire will draw it forth.

This was not a perfect ritual. I spilled ale, I broke the cork on the bottle in which I store my well water, and I repeatedly drew bad omens from the ancestors… But I’ll post about that later.

I want to thank GreyCatSidhe and TLRyder for their encouragement yesterday. Because they nudged me on, I made offerings of homemade bread and, yes, a poem for Brigid, and I think she was pleased.

I’ll follow up with a more detailed write-up of the ritual, including omens, but this is all I have time for just now.

So, without further ado, here is the ritual:

Imbolc 2011

Combined from “A Solitary Imbolc Ritual” by Rob Henderson and Kami Landy, “A Personal Ritual for Imbolc” by Robert Lee (Skip) Ellison in The Solitary Druid, and other miscellaneous sources, including The Standard ADF Liturgy and Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites.

Needed: incense, silver, herbs, olive oil, bread,  milk, ale, other optional offerings

1. Initiating the Rite – Opening Prayer[1]

Brighid, Our Lady, queen of our hearth,
Goddess who guards the heart of our home,
Threefold flame who shines in the center:
We honor and praise you,
We offer you our words of worship.
Queen of Poets, may our lives be creative,
Queen of Smiths, may our lives be useful,
Queen of healers, may our lives be healthy.
Your family is standing before you here,
Confident you will do what is right.

2.   Purification

Nine breaths, anoint self with water and incense

Acknowledgement of outsiders:

Make offering of ale.

Ancient dark ones, we make this offering to you.
You who dwell in the outer dark
You who stood against the gods
You twisted and misshapen
You cold of heart and dim of mind
Take this offering and trouble not our working.

Likewise I acknowledge in myself
Weakness and perversity
Hatred and spite
Cowardice and ignorance
I contemplate these ills and enemies
And for this sacred time
I set them aside!

3.   Honoring the Earth Mother

Make offering of oats.

O beloved mother of all
From whose starry womb the green earth springs
You who are the bearer of all life
I pray you bless and uphold this rite.

Mother of all, accept my offering!

4.   Statement of Purpose

Thus do I call and name the Brilliant one; Queenly Bríd, – brings the smith’s fire, the healer’s fire, the hearth fire, the well of vision, the well of inspiration, the well of healing, – midwife and baker, brewer and weaver, singer and wise one, giver of all great gifts. I call upon Brighid of the blessings, Brighid of the graces, giver of the blessings of inspiration- fire in the head that enflames us with holy words, silver on the tongue that shall fall sweet as honey on the ears of the gods and non-gods this day, grace of eye and hand, grace of voice and carriage, grace of intention and action, so that all that I do here will honour Her this day. Biodh sé! [bee sheh: let it be so]

5.   (Re)Creating the Cosmos

Two Powers meditation

Portal Song“: make offerings to well, fire at appropriate times

6.   Opening the Gates

Make offering of olive oil, ale into bowl
The snow melts from the Earth… feeding it with the waters of life. The Earth’s womb contains the seeds of rebirth. They are our foundation.

Let the light shine forth, to nourish what has been planted. All you who keep the boundaries, who walk the borders, I ask that you open the way for me that I may tread the sacred paths.

Manannán mac Lir, patron, Gatekeeper, opener of the ways between, I ask that you open the gates that I may commune with the Goddess Brid.[Visualize the gates opening above the fire and well and see the tree growing through them.] O Manannán mac Lir, let the gates be opened!

7.   Inviting the Kindreds

Offering for Ancestors of oats, ale
At this altar, with this candle, in this sacred place, I call to you O ancestors.
I welcome you to join me here, and to welcome as of old, Brigit, the hearth mother, who taught you – as you teach me – the ancient arts of brewing and baking and many great gifts. Ancestors, be welcome!

Offering for Nature Spirits of herbs, ale
Spirits of Nature, you who dwell within the land, gently waken to the steps of Bright Brigit.

Be welcome here, you oystercatcher bird and hearth cat, honey bee and milk cow, you serpent coiled to do no harm – you companions of our highest queen, I honor and welcome you
Among all that I welcome here today. Nature Spirits, Failte romhat! [failcheh rowat — be very welcome]

Offering for Shining Ones of olive oil and bread
High and Shining Ones, gods who are dear to me, be welcome here this day, be honored and join in welcoming Brigit, honored among you as warrior-smith, poet-teacher, weaver and healer and giver of plenty- gifts that each of you may share: Oh divine ones, share in the feast of Brigit.

8. Key Offerings

Offering of milk and bread with honey

Brigit I invoke this day,
In the high places and the low,
Beside the hearth fire and at the sacred well.
The gentle queen I call to her hall,
The place where the bed is prepared.

By her many graces I call to Brigit who graces us this day;
Grace of eye and grace of hand,
Grace of word and grace of will,
Grace of caring, grace of birthing, grace in mourning,
Grace of carriage, grace of courage,
Comforter and mother,
Brigit of the Blessings I name the one
Who blesses us this day!

Let us greet her, we who know her blessings.
Come weaver and poet,
Come brewer and baker,
Come mother and healer,
Come blacksmith and wordsmith,
Beekeeper and hearth-keeper.

Thus I call to the Mother and Queen: A feast is prepared in your honor. Come grace the hearth seat, Brigit I invoke this day!

Play “Bridhid” by Kelliana and make offering of poem.

9.   Prayer of Sacrifice[2]

From you have flowed freely many gifts,
Given with no conditions, offered with open hands.
Continually you have renewed the world with your largesse;
Continually you have brought new wonders into being.
I come before you, then, with unnecessary gratitude;
No matter what my actions are, yours will not change
What you do is in perfect accord with your nature.
I wish to be more like you, to take you as my model,
And, though my gifts may be unnecessary for you,
They are all too vital for me.
I hold them out to you, then, generous ones:
Mighty Kindreds, accept my sacrifice.

10. Omen

O Kindreds: is my sacrifice acceptable to you?

Take omen

11. Calling for the blessing

As in the ways of old I have given my gifts freely and as in the ways of old a gift is given unto me in return. I will drink deep of the Cup of Inspiration. May the blessings of health, wealth and wisdom be mine. Shining Ones your blessings upon me! I gather with you between Earth and Sky. I am proud to call myself your kindred. Shining Ones, your blessings upon me! I have brought my offerings. I have made sacrifice. One last time, Shining Ones your blessings upon me!

I ask the blessings of the triple Brigit.
Blessings of inspiration – silver on the tongue;
Blessings of hearth and healing – golden riches of honey;
Blessings of courage, wisdom and strength.
And the light of her flame to guide me this day, as I go forward to rebirth.

Fill and lift cup.

12. Hallowing the blessing

O Mighty, Noble and Shining Ones, I have given to you, and now I ask you to bless me in turn, as a gift calls for a gift. Hallow these waters, O holy powers. Grant me your blessing. Let the wisdom, love and power of the Gods, Dead and Nature Spirits flow in this cup of Blessing.

13. Affirmation of the blessing

Today I am blessed in this rite, in calling on you. In my life I am blessed in knowing you. As the Waters of Blessing flow through me, my body, my mind, and my spirit, they are filled with your very essence. Behold the cup of blessing!

Drink.

15. Thanking the Beings

Bríd have I welcomed this day, to my hearth, to my home, to my life. May she go from here refreshed and made more joyous, as her blessing has renewed and uplifted me! Slán agat, a Bhrid! [slan A-gat — go well (singular)]

Thanking the kindreds:
You shining ones, nature spirits and ancestors, I thank you for your presence in this rite and in my life! As I return to ordinary time and the daily world, your blessings travel with me. So to, let my blessings and love go with you. Slán agibh! [slan A-giv — go well (plural)]

Thanking the Outsiders:
Outsiders, you whose ways are not ours, I thank you for your forbearance. Without you there would be no change, yet in this moment, your absence was as welcome as once your presence was needed! Go raibh ma agibh! [GO ruh ma A-giv — thank you (plural)]

16. Closing the Gates

Here have we met, gods and spirits, ancestors and I. But now the sacred well becomes once again a simple bowl of water, the ancient bonfire once again a candle, and this tree may no longer touch the very arch of the heavens nor its roots be those which hold the worlds in their embrace. Biodh sé! [bee sheh — let it be so!]

17. Thanking the Earth Mother

Earth mother, I do not leave you, nor do you go from here, but as this rite comes to a close, once again I thank you for giving firm foundation to this hearth, for providing sustenance and life, that your child can give you love and honor. Earth mother, Go raibh ma agat! [GO ruh ma A-gat — thank you (singular)]

18. Closing the Rite

By Land, Sea and Sky, By Fire, Well and Tree, I end this rite.
I go forth with blessing, to bless the world in turn.
Biodh sé!


[1] From A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Smith, p. 158

[2] From A Pagan Book of Prayer, p.192

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3 thoughts on “Happy Imbolc

    • Thank you!

      There are a few reasons. The first is primarily because I’m still a little shaky at this and don’t really know what the heck I’m doing. The second is that I came across that prayer of sacrifice and really liked it. The third is because I felt that prayer seemed appropriate both for Brigid and for the generic Kindreds, who I want to honor in all my rituals. The line, “You have renewed the world with your largesse,” spoke to me of Brigid’s eternal role in the renewal of the year, whether I have acknowledged her or not in previous years.

      This whole journey has been a homecoming for me, and that prayer really seemed to encompass that feeling, particularly in this context, because Brigid first spoke to me as a potential patroness when I was considering joining ADF. We haven’t formalized the agreement yet 🙂 but I feel the need to acknowledge her as a constant presence in my life, even before I was aware of her.

  1. You’re an inspiration.

    I’m so glad you followed through on the ritual, and I believe in my heart of hearts that, spilled ale and broken corks aside, the Kindred must have appreciation for the effort you put forth.

    I believe that on the next High Day I shall take your lead and craft my own ritual!

    Bright blessings of Brighid be with you!

    Teo

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