Ireland has recently conducted national DNA research that asks the question of what actually makes the Irish...well, Irish? As a country conditioned by emigration the Celtic tiger of the 1990's and early Noughties brought an influx of new blood into the population. Cue some national soul searching.
If you read the earliest Irish texts, such as the Book of Invasions, Ireland has always been rather 'multi-cultural' although that was probably not the fashionable interpretation in earlier times. This DNA survey has noted that along with the Irish being well connected with the Scots and other British populations, there is a strong marker for Spanish, specifically, Basque, lineage.
This coming Saturday, February 2nd I am celebrating Imbolc. This year I believe our group is focusing more along the lines of the healing and water aspects of the goddess Brid (Brigid), but last year our sabbat used the dual aspects of Brid as the keeper of the well and forge (water and fire).
Respecting the dual aspects of the Well and the Forge, I have created a simple two-card tarot spread. Imbolc is an excellent time for divination, so I hope you use this spread during this time!
1st card: The Well: What situation do you need greater compassion in? Healing? Emotional empathy?
2nd card: The Forge: What situation do you need more drive in? Aggression? Force of will?
Let us not forget that the realm of fire can purify just as well as destroy, and water can destroy just as easily as heal. Please feel free to use this tarot spread as a jumping off point for your own personal tarot spread creations.
I'm one of the facilitators for a day-long Brigid retreat on Saturday and am priestessing our Mother Grove public ritual that night. What that means in practical terms is that my car is full of boxes and cloutie trees, and the dining room table is also covered with material for one thing or the other.
Have you been spending the week getting ready for this lovely holy day, those of you who honor it? Have you cleared and reset your altar? Put some oats and whiskey out for Bride and her white cow?
The thing I almost forgot was the bhrat--that length of cotton cloth that goes out onto the Earth tonight to catch the dew or the rain. I use cotton because it's easy to rip into clouties or cut into squares for healing work.
At this turn of the Wheel of the Year many people celebrate Imbolc, or Brigid. This holiday is in anticipation of the coming spring.
Brigid, as the Goddess of healing, smithcraft and poetry, challenges us to use creativity to inspire our healing, and to use our need to heal to inspire our creativity.
This is a piece of meditative magick. You will use the tarot images to help you focus your mind and ask Brigid herself for guidance. Your answers will come through your intuition and your connection with Brigid. You will feel your answers in your heart, in your mind, and in your dreams and visions.
Imbolc is an introspective time of year. Many "I" words come to mind for me: introverted, inside, inquire. If you do not already opt for a solitary ritual on Brighid's special day and would like to mix things up a bit, I would keep the numbers small. An intimate gathering with a few close pals is in order.
If you don't have access to a fireplace to build a cozy one in your home, I am a big fan of lighting many white candles in the main area that you will be entertaining. Line a mantlepiece with several small votives and use a larger candle for the table centerpiece. Keep the lights low and make use of your dimmer switches in other rooms.
As you may have gathered from my recent post, I rather love the upcoming holy day and the Divine whom it honors. I want to share with you some of the fun Brigid things we did as my daughter was growing up. Some of it is old lore made fresh, some of it is new. I don't know the difference any more--it is all so deeply ingrained in my knowings around this coming of Spring. I shan't give you sources for what I do, except that I do them and have done them for many years.
Imbolc is a wonderful time for children and there are many ways for the Littles to be involved. On the night before Imbolc begins (which we celebrate as a three-day festival), Brigid travels the wide World, accompanied by a Cow. She brings blessings to children and to pregnant women and She has many places to visit. Those good children who love Bridey know that before bedtime they need to do three important things.
First, they must set out a little bed for Her to rest upon. We always made one from a shoe box. We'd roll up some soft batting and tuck a cloth napkin around it. A lace handkerchief made a pretty pillow and a thick cotton washcloth looked much like the cotton blankets we had on our own beds.
We spent part of the afternoon at Mother Grove rearranging the entry room--a tiny space I call the "lounge." We moved the coffee-and-tea tables onto another wall and covered them in some plain black fabric. Looks sleek and modern.
Since there were several of us playing interior designer, a couple of us started stripping the main altar and replacing tealights on the other three. The Ancestors had been exiled in their niche, covered with a black lace veil with no candles or wine or treats and it was also time to open up their area and fill their goblet and out a little something sweet on their plate.
It's time now to move all the Brigid stuff from the South altar and honor our gold-red Woman. We're big on our Bridey at Mother Grove--She's one of the reasons we decided to work on creating a Goddess temple here.