Brighid of the mantle, encompass us;
Lady of the lambs, protect us;
Keeper of the hearth, kindle us;
Beneath your mantle, gather us;
And restore us to memory.
~ Caitlín Matthews, A Blessing for Hearth Keepers
The ancient celebration of Brighid, Imbolc, or Candlemas, as some may call it, falls around Feb. 1 and 2, depending on your tradition. By whichever name you like, this is the time when we of the Old Ways dedicate to a new practice, renew our spiritual devotions, and bless the seeds of our intentions for the coming year.
Now the light has assuredly grown longer and stronger since Solstice, and we feel the stirrings of life’s renewal in the land. We harmonize with this energy by choosing new ways to nurture our spiritual growth and service.
This year, our festival of dedication is just one week away from the time of the New Moon and Lunar New Year. For now, the Moon is waning, so clearing and preparing for new beginnings is the guidance for this moment.
One of my favorite ways to observe this holiday is to bless some actual seeds that I will be planting, once the ground is warm and the danger of frost has passed. They may represent a creative dream I have for the coming growing season, or fondest wishes and hopes about my cherished relationships.
Let Me Find My Way to the Well
Here at Laurel Hill, our home in northern Durham County, North Carolina, our sweet water gushes from a well with its source deep in our sacred land.
So at this time, especially mindful of recent droughts and other threats to plentiful drinking water, we humbly ask Brighid to bless and protect our well and, indeed, all the waters of the world.
Even if you use city tap water, blessing your faucets, sinks, and pipes with thanksgiving, song, and other devotional practices would be appropriate at this time.
It’s easy to take it for granted that we can turn on the tap and unlimited clean water comes out. But as tragic events around the country and the world remind us, we are extremely fortunate for this life-giving gift, and it is one that can vanish or be poisoned, with little warning.
The Light of Awakening
Other rites you might consider at this time include celebrating the return of the Sun’s light. In many Pagan homes at sunset, it is a tradition to light every lamp in the home, for at least a few moments. Or you might like to light a special candle in every room. Alternately, light a red candle and place this in a prominent window.
If you have snow on the ground where you live, walk in it for a while, and draw a magical symbol of the Sun, as your message to the sleeping Earth, encouraging Her to awaken.
Whether you have snow or not, if the weather is not too dire today, take a mindful walk around the areas near your home. Recall how those places feel during High Summer. How are the sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings now different?
As you remember the Summertime, send that memory out to the trees, plants, creatures, devas, and other beings with whom you share your neighborhood. I personally like to do this by singing, humming, or chanting.
You, too, can call to Gaia’s slumbering children, reminding them that Winter’s grip is loosening, and soon they must be stirring to life again.
With your songs and words, you are engaging in the original sense of the word enchantment: to chant or sing with intention, to achieve a desired result. By doing so, you bless and bring to life all within the sound of your voice.
You can also do this to invoke the protectors of the Land — the ancient Underworld beings who are the guardians of Gaia’s well-being. I believe we are in great need of their assistance, so as you celebrate the strengthening of the Sun’s fire, take this opportunity to establish or deepen your cooperation with them.
And speaking of the magic of words, this is also time for the annual global cyber poetry slam in honor of Brighid, Goddess of Poetry. I have posted more details, and my own offering, here. Please join us, and refresh your spirit by sharing Her most blessed gift of poetry.
I could go on and on, of course, but the day is moving on, and I have more enchantments still to attend to, including a secret Big Project (not my book, not just yet), that I’ll be sharing with you very, very soon!
So I will close for now, simply noting that in whatever ways you choose to honor this happy time, I wish you merry meet, and merry part, and merry we shall meet again.