Brigid Discernment Ritual

We used this closing ritual at tonight’s Welcoming Circle. It’s a group ritual but can be adapted for solitary practitioners. Images are from the Builders of the Adytum Tarot.

Here is the Brigid handout I gave to those who attended. Click Brigid Handout.

BRIGID DISCERNMENT RITUAL

ANOINTING WITH BRIGID OIL—David Taliesin
[Recipe for Brigid Oil is found in Cunningham’s Incense, Oils and Brews]

May Brigid, Keeper of the Sacred Flame,
Give you wisdom and illumination tonight.

CANDLE LIGHTING—Traditional Gaelic. Light a white altar candle and say the following:

Brigid, Sublime Woman, Quick flame,
Long may you burn bright!
 You give us the invitation to life everlasting.

CALLING THE QUARTERS—from Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials, Imbolc: Rituals Recipes and Lore for Brigid’s Day + Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess

I summon the Powers of East—
Brigid’s bright powers of Dawn!
As you bring light to the Spring,
Bring light to our work.
Hail and Welcome!

I summon the Powers of South—
The blazing fires of Brigid’s Forge!
Shed all that does not aid our work!
Fortify our work! Let it change the world!
Hail and Welcome!

I summon the Powers of West—
The healing powers of the Well!
May our work flow and grow!
May it stir and summon the depths of possibilities!
Hail and Welcome!

I summon the powers of North—
The strength of the Cold Mountains!
Freeze all adversaries! Solidify our desires
With the weight of frozen rock!
Hail and Welcome!

Reach to the sky: By the Powers of the Fiery Arrows!

Reach to the ground: By the Powers of the Green Earth!

Extend your arms to your sides: Goddess Brigid, Goddess of Fire and Water,
We call you and invite you to the circle we have cast this night.

Goddess of the Sacred Well and Keeper of the Flame,
We ask that you bring your power and wisdom to this circle tonight.

Brigid, Goddess of the Forge, we honor you
And ask for your help and enlightenment in our work tonight.
Hail and welcome!

DISCERNMENT RITUAL—David Taliesin

Ground and center.

Connect with both the earth energy below and the Divine energy above. Let it fill your whole being until you feel like your body is full of light.

When you feel peaceful and focused, look at the Tarot Card image in front of you. Use it as an icon to center your thoughts and think about the work the Divine has called you to do. Record any thought that come to mind during this time of meditation. [I chose several images for participants to use from the wonderful black and white Builders of the Adytum Tarot. I offered the Fool, the Magician, the High Priestess, The Moon and Strength/Courage.]

When you are finished writing, take a tea candle and light it from the center pillar, and set it on the altar. Watch the flames of illumination grow as each person adds their candle to the altar.

Take a candle with you tonight, along with the image you selected. Use it in the coming weeks to further reflect on your calling/vocation.

BRIGID BLESSING
May my words be as considered as poetry,
May I reflect on all I do or say,
May I meditate on those things important spiritually
May I seek to know more of the lore
May I research what I am curious about
and what will enable me to grow
May I seek to know great knowledge,
May I acknowledge the intelligence of others
May I comprehend what I seek to learn and apply those lessons
May I know that seeking wisdom is not the same as being wise.
May I be a child of Brigid.
by https://elfkat.wordpress.com, Used by permission of the author.

DISMISSING THE CIRCLE—adapted from Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials, Imbolc: Rituals Recipes and Lore for Brigid’s Day + Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess

Great Brigid, Goddess of the Flame and Goddess of the Well,
We thank you for joining our magic circle tonight
And for the energy and wisdom you have bestowed upon us.
You will remain forever in our hearts!
We bid you farewell!

Farewell to the Powers of North—
As you came in peace, now go in peace,
But leave strength in our work.
Keep our adversaries in your icy grasp!
We bid you farewell!

Farewell to the Powers of West—
As you came in peace, now go in peace,
But leave your misty whispers on our work.
Wash away the obstacles to our manifestations!
We bid you Farewell!

Farewell to the Powers of South—
As you came in peace, now go in peace,
But leave your sparks of manifestation.
Allow the embers of our work to grow.
We bid you farewell!

Farewell to the Powers of East—
As you came in peace, now go in peace.
Though the day passes, the work of the sun remains.
Remain also with our work.
We bid you farewell!

The circle is open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

As noted, portions of this ritual were written by David Taliesin, ©2020, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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February: Cougar Moon

cougarmoon

The February full moon (February 8th. It’s at it’s fullest on Feb 9 at 2:30 am.) goes by many names such as Cougar Moon, Snow Moon (Native Americans), Moon of the Seer, and Quickening Moon. Typically, winter snows are the heaviest in February and the scarcity of food favors solitary hunters such as the cougar. Feb 8th is a good night to contemplate the energies the Cougar brings into our lives.

According to Jamie Sams and David Carson’s excellent book Medicine Cards, “By observing the graceful pounce of Mountain Lion/Cougar you will learn how to balance power, intention, physical strength, and grace.  This relates, in human terms, to the balance of body, mind, and spirit.” Cougar energy also speaks of the times in our lives when we need to step out as leaders/pioneers without any followers behind us.

So go outside if it’s a clear night. Light a candle inside if it’s not. Then spend some time asking yourself if there are any imbalances in your life at the present moment and strategize what it would take to right them. You might also want to contemplate if the Divine Presence is asking you to have the courage to step out and lead. Is the Cougar calling you to pounce on an opportunity that has been in your field of vision for a while? Only you can answer this question!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Imbolc vs. Candlemas

IMG_0692

Candlemas @ All Saints Ashmont, Boston, MA

Even some of my Wiccan books get this one wrong! Imbolc and Candlemas are not the same holiday, but they are tried together thematically as we shall see. Imbolc is a Gaelic celebration that usually occurs on the night of February 1st. It honors the goddess Brigid who is often associated with fire among other things. One of Imbolc’s main themes is Brigid’s turning of the Wheel of the Year toward spring. Therefore, light plays an important part in the celebration. Some NeoPagans light outdoor bonfires while others employ lots of candles in indoor settings.

Candlemas is a Christian holiday that is observed on February 2nd. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox celebrate it as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Candlemas commemorates a story found in Luke 2:22-40 where Joseph and Mary take baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth, as required by Jewish Law. After making the required sacrifice, Mary is then considered to be ritually clean and Jesus is presented at the Temple since he is their first born son. A man named Simeon witnesses this event and gives a heartfelt prayer known in Latin as the Nunc Dimittis. The theme of the prayer is that Simeon has now beheld the “light” that will shine on Gentiles and Jews alike.

Christian celebrations of Candlemas include the blessing of beeswax candles, and a candle-lit procession precedes the worship service that day. In some part of Europe, especially France, they eat crepes on Candlemas (I’m not exactly sure why!). Each member of the household cooks their own crepe while holding a coin in their hand. They believe it assures wealth and happiness until the next Candlemas celebration.

I’ve read a number of articles that connect Candlemas with Imbolc, as well as the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Personally, I’m not convinced the tie is as strong as some people suggest. Both Imbolc and Candlemas are festivals of light. However, there are numerous light festivals during the winter season that appear in many cultures and religions. If anyone out there has a strong argument regarding how they tie together, I’m all ears. Please cite the sources that helped you to draw this conclusion.

There is a good possibility, however, that Candlemas got its start as a Christian alternative to Imbolc. This has certainly been true of many Pagan festivals so it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

 

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Song to Brigid

I learned this chant at a public celebration of Imbolc. I scored it so it could be shared with a wider audience. If anyone knows who wrote it, please let me know. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful in tracking it down!

songtobrigid PDF

songtobrigid

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St. Brigid’s Cross

IFI love the simple beauty of St. Brigid’s crosses. In Ireland, they are made from rushes and contain a beautiful woven square in the middle with four equidistant arms that are tied at the ends. They make these crosses for the feast day of St. Brigid, February 1st.

Many people believe this cross has pre-Christian origins and I wholeheartedly agree.  The cross reminds me of the spokes of the wheel that the goddess Brigid turns toward spring during the celebration of Imbolc.  The four “spokes” of this cross represent the two solstices and two equinoxes of the year.  With all the connections that can be made between Brigid and St. Brigid, it’s not hard to believe that the cross is a Christian adaptation of the wheel of the year.

Crossed_circleThe earliest origin of St Brigid’s cross may possibly be the “sun cross” or “wheel cross” that dates back to prehistoric times, especially during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.  Wheel crosses appear frequently in artifacts associated with religious rites.  They call to mind the spokes of a chariot wheel.  If this is the case, this cross could have been used in connection with the “sun chariot” the gods rode to carry the sun across the sky.  Whatever the case may be, this is an old symbol that has been connected to spirituality for a very long time. Enjoy!

Copyright 2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Great Wheels of Fire

St. Lucia's DayImbolc is the celebration of the first stirrings of spring after the dark days of winter. Ancient Pagans celebrated the holiday by lighting ritual fires to lure back the sun. One of the most popular customs among the Celts was to have a young woman, representing the maiden aspect of the goddess Brigid, enter the ritual area carrying a circle of lit candles. This circle is a symbol of the Wheel of the Year that Brigid is slowly turning toward spring. Thanks to their Norse brothers and sisters, the wheel was eventually worn on the young woman’s head.  This tradition originated in the Norse celebration of Yule.

If all this sounds familiar to my Christian readers, we have another connection with our Pagan friends!  The Swedish folk song “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella” commemorates the young woman in question.  This custom is still practiced today in Scandinavian countries on St. Lucia’s Day, December 13th.  Interestingly enough, St. Lucia’s original incarnation was Lucina, the Roman goddesss of light!

A great book that helped me make some of these connections is Sabbats: A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy.  It is filled to interesting rites, crafts, activities and history that surrounds the eight sabbats observed by most modern Wiccans.

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Imbolc: Becoming Rooted in Good Soil

spiral-roots

Artist Unknown

At an Imbolc celebration I attended one of the priestesses talked about paying attention to the season we’re in. During the month of February, it may not look like much is happening in the natural world around us. However, underneath the ground seeds are breaking apart, rooting themselves, and drawing nutrients from the soil. It is only when they do this that they can become green plants and beautiful flowers in the spring. She challenged us to spend time this month doing things that “ground” us and make us feel “rooted.” She said we should look for activities that nourish our spirits and make us feel alive and creative.

The other part of this process is that we may have to “die” to something. The seed breaks apart and transforms itself into something new. This is also a part of the growing process as we let go of old, unproductive ways of living and adopt healthier behaviors and habits that are life-giving to us, to nature, and to the people around us.

As we say in the South, “That will preach!” It reminds me of something Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Both Pagans and Christians must undergo this same spiritual process if we are going to grow and become the healers and reconcilers the world needs us to be. It’s not easy to die to our self-centeredness and destructive patterns of living. We love our habits and routines, even if they are killing us! But natures tells us that dying is a part of the process of bring new life into the world.

Jesus also told a parable about four different types of soil. The first three yielded practically nothing but the last seed that was sown, even surprised the farmer. Jesus ended the parable by  saying: “Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:1-9).

We all need to find good soil in our lives. So, while the chill of winter is still with us, let us find something that helps us to put down deep roots in spiritual soil, so we can emerge in the spring with vitality and “aliveness.”

Copyright © 2020 by sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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