(above) Finn acting as our Brighid. contemplating the flame before she goes outside into the crisp imbolc night to be let into the home.
With sunset Imbolc begins. Just before sunset every one attending is given a lustration to prepare them for the coming of Brighid. The hands, feet, and face are all washed with warm spring water and a clean washcloth. This is usually done in a sheltered place outside, the cold, harsh air, contrasting to the warmth and comfort of the warm water. An experience that speaks to each of us what Imbolc is all about.
The eldest daughter has been dressed in a white dress and is given the crosóga leaves wrapped in cloth. Candles have been placed in every window of the house, and wood is ready in the hearth. The hearth and the candles are lit to welcome Bríd’s arrival with the setting of the sun. When ready the eldest daughter walks from outside and stands on the threshold of the front door. She then says:
Be on your knees,
And open your eyes
And let blessed Brighid in!
The tuatha then drops to their knees and answers:
“O, tar isteach, tá céad fáilte romhat!
“O, come in, you are a hundred times welcome!”
The eldest daughter then enters and places the yucca leaves on a centrally placed table. The eldest woman of the household then places a loaf of bread in the shape of a crosóg on top of the leaves. The eldest daughter blesses all present, the food and drink for the feast, the leaves, the loaf of bread, and the hearth with the water gathered from the local spring. We sprinkle the water with a sprig of Juniper (one of Juniper’s common names is Mountain Yew, Yew was very important to the Draoithe, but we have no native species of Yew in Colorado).
The gathered people then pass the crosóg shaped loaf around and eat a piece while maintaining a solemn atmosphere. Next the household lines up. Two men take the crios Bríde and hold it between them saying:
“My girdle is Bríd’s girdle,
The girdle of the four crosses.
And go out three times.
May whoever goes through my girdle
Be seven times better a year from today.”
(below) Sage passing through the crios Bride last year
Men pass through the crios sideways, beginning with the right foot. Women go through head first, with the holders bringing it down over the woman’s head who then steps out of it. This is done three times for each person.
(above) Ben making the Brid’s cross
While the men are making the crios the women make a brídeóg which, according to tradition, can only be touched by the women. The brídeóg is usually about the size of a small child (or smaller) and is dressed in a child’s clothes.
With that we feast, tell stories, drink, and visit, with father’s paying special attention to their daughters this night. After the feast everyone sits in a circle and weaves a Bríd’s cross for their household.
Once the night begins to grow late, the first guest will announce that they are about to leave. The brídeóg’s bed is made. Only the women are supposed to do this. The bed is given new sheets and is safely lit by candles. The women carry the brídeóg and place her in the bed with a wooden wand of Mountain Ash (Rowan) next to her saying:
“Bríd, Bríd your bed is ready.”
(above from the left) Me, Rik (my husband) Mindy, Hilary and Ben all enjoy a wonderful meal of bread, stew and salad.
Imbolc went rather well. we all exchanged gifts and well wishes and discussed the waking world, sang drinking songs and Irish lullaby. We even got a few songs recorded but we are cleaning them up to post them on the Tuatha’s website.
Imbolc for most of the tribe was rather hectic and full of strange mishaps (some blame it on Mercury being in retrograde) but the few silent minutes of the ceremony and washing eachother’s feet, hands and face…. just enjoying eachother’s company was worth it.
(more pictures to come :D)