Our theme is St. Brigid's Mantle and a topic that has emerged is the celebration and symbolism of 3 Brigids (Fire of the Hearth, Forge and Inspiration)
Brigid, the 'Fire of the Hearth', was the goddess of fertility, family, childbirth and healing. Connections to white.
Brigid, the '"Fire of the Forge', was like the Greek goddess Athena, a patroness of the crafts (especially weaving, embroidery, and metalsmithing), and a goddess who was concerned with justice and law and order. Connections to red – attribute : smith's hammer
Brigid, the 'Fire of Inspiration', was the muse of poetry, song history and the protector of all cultural learning. Connections to green-blue – attribute : staff
Before the event you may like to tune in, each in our own way, to the Spirit of the Place and 'knock on the door', checking in with guides and guardians there. There is no need to share anything private of course but this is something we would do as a planning group if we were all sitting in the same room together.
As always everyone is invited to take up different roles spontaneously. Just to put some focus in place, the basics are: Smudge and light - Directions and elements - activities - open heart contributions - closure - food and drink. If you feel particularly called to do one of these please speak up at the start.
9 souls joined our ancestors in the graveyard on Faughart Hill, County Louth, Ireland, for the celebration of Imbolc. For centuries pilgrims have been visiting the Holy Well in the graveyard believed to be St Brigid's birthplace.
A wonderful celebration was held where we called in the directions as usual, symbolically stepped through Brigid's doorway with the intention of birthing our dreams for the coming year, heard about a wonderful Tibetan prophecy and learned how we can - perhaps MUST - fulfil the role of Shambhala Warriors and save this wonderful planet on which we all currently live.
Jean taught us a wonderful fire and water dance which resulted in a very powerful experience as we danced on the Hill of Brigid's birthplace surrounded by the graves of our ancestors, with the ocean in the distance to the East and the setting sun to the West.
We all agreed in discussion that there was a feeling of shifting energies both locally and worldwide and that we must answer the call to become Shambhala Warriors.
Tibetan Legend of the Shambhala Warriors and their Prophesy as passed on by Joanna Macy. This recalls the Great Turning as read out at the 11.11.11 event we held on Hill of Tara. Go to http://taracelebrations.org/other-activities/111111-full-report/ for that information.
The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on Earth do not come from evil deities or extraterrestrial powers. They arise from our own choices and relationships. So, now, the Shambhala warriors must go into training.
During the open heart various people read poems and articles which were enjoyed and appreciated by all.
When Things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.
31st January 2017 and in an Irish household Brigid's crosses are made by the family, including one that has just that little bit extra - a standing up version.
and from Marta and friends in Switzerland
Marta has drawn a rune for Imbolc 2017. It is Jera:
harvest / results of earlier efforts are realized (represents the 12 months of the year),
fruitful season / achievement of a goal (peace, happiness).
Jera can break through stagnancy (break through to the new spring?), life cycle, cyclical pattern of the universe, natural development.
Jera follows in the order of the runes Isa and Isa is "ice", so Jera's spring follows Isa's winter-- the frozen stagnancy is broken by the turn of the wheel and things are moving again.
Marta comments, I also relate Jera to Frey and Freyja who we worked with last year on Ostara / Spring Equinox at Fourknocks. Continuing that 'sandwich' of Fourknocks, Susan was drawn there again at Winter Solstice.
Brigit patron of Fire in the Hearth (candles), the brave and bold leader of Spring (Snowdrops), Fertility (polished egg), mysticism(Crystals), Christian and preChristian ( cross in next picture) and Healing (Bhrat Bríde).
Brigit is wearing her Bhrat on a cold and windy St. Brigits night on the coast of Galway. Some of you might think she looks a lot like Mary Magdalen......... mmmm..... Have you ever seen both in the same room at the same time?
Well of the Saints by John Millington Synge
This is a three-act play written by Irish playwright J.M.Synge and first performed on 4th February 1905 at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
Set amongst a lonely mountainous district in the east of Ireland the play focusses on two blind beggars.
They are miraculously cured but so dislike what they see of the world that they prefer to return to blindness.
Quote: There's the sound of one of them twittering yellow birds do be coming in the spring-time from beyond the sea, and there'll be a fine warmth now in the sun, and a sweetness in the air, the way it'll be a grand thing to be sitting here quiet and easy smelling the things growing up, and budding from the earth.
Thanks to Ros for drawing attention to these.
Above: Mound of the hostages, Hill of Tara
We will meet at the entrance to the hill of Tara at 7.55am and walk up to the Mound of the Hostages, open the circle, sprinkle all there with water from Brigid's well at Faughart, acknowledge the day, the returning light, the new growth, acknowledge Brigid in her form as Mother - she gave birth to the sun at the solstice, and in her form as maid, with new growth evident, and crone, the wise woman.
This is also the feast of the poets, so if anyone has any poem to share, now is the time. Hopefully it will be clear enough to see the sun as it goes in through the passage way, this cairn is aligned to sunrise around the day of Imbolg.
Above: The Mound of the Hostages passage tomb oriented towards Imbolg sun rise and the flower du jour, pluiriní sneachta, snow drops
We will then have a toast and offer the contents to ourselves and the land, then use some more of the water to do similar, and if everyone brings a small bottle, they can bring some of the water home.
There will also be some seeds for yellow flowers which people can plant and use that water to nourish the first seedlings when they come up.
We will then go over to the two fairy trees that (at least up to yesterday - 17 Jan) were bare of any offerings, petitions, on their branches, and we will tie our yellow ribbons with our intentions to the branches and if all agree, sprinkle the water on the land surrounding them.
Please come suitably dressed for an early morning walk on the grassland of the hill. Also bring any poems that inspire you that you would like to share.
A table is booked in Maguires teashop at 9.30am for those wanting a hot drink and/or breakfast after the event.
Over 20 of us were treated to a fresh spring day with biting wind, cold and mist. No sign of any sun. Susan said that on a morning like this the Cailleach would not be gathering any fire wood and prophesied that on this account the Cailleach was expecting a fine summer........we shall see.
After calling in the directions and acknowledging our distant celebrators we called in Eileen in spirit to join us. Bernie read out a poem “Do not stand at my grave and weep...” and then Susan opened a bottle of Baileys to toast Eileen, her friendship and creative input into Tara Celebrations over the last number of years.
In keeping with the season we had wheat and dairy (in the form of bread cheese sticks and Baileys, Eileens favourite tipple , as it turned out.
Sunday is traditionally the first day of the week, ruled by the sun, (yellow), and the magical aspects of this day include protection, healing, spirituality and strength. And of course Brigid is the patron saint of healers, she is the goddess of poetry - Bernadette read out a poem - and also the goddess of smith craft, if you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. EIleen again!
We took some bulbs for planting and a brightly coloured Brigits cross made from pipe cleaners.
We reassembled at the fairy trees to tie a ribbon for a fruitful 2016 wandering in and out through the trees which formed a sacred portal.
Next we walked to the well which was in flood and had some reflective time helped by Jean's thought provoking cards designed by Fr Jim Cogley.
And finally we retired to a warm and tasty breakfast in Maguires where we delighted to welcome celebrator/visitors from the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Galway, Navan and even Dublin.
Pluiriní Sneachta or snow drops at the well.
Time of the year for Rainbows and healing crystals too
1st February 2016 -Meditation & Healing Circle
The Imbolc weekend was rounded off with the regular first Monday of the month Open Heart Meditation & Healing Circle at Bective Mill. This focussed on Brigid in her role as smith, worker with fire. A meditation on meeting Brigid at a forge in the forest and telling her what we'd like to create this year with her help and requesting that she aid in keeping the inspiration alight in the coming weeks. A magical, mystical, calming night was had by all.
The themes of the day were based on the Goddess Danu, Planting the Seeds of our Dreams, the Feminine Energy, Healing and Water.
thanks to Pat for this evocative description of the day
Imbolc 2015 - River Boyne, Co Meath, Ireland. 1st February 2015 (Imbolc)
We met by the banks of the Boyne in glorious sunshine to celebrate the festival of Imbolc as our ancestors have done for thousands of years before us. We spoke of the Goddess Danu, Bridget and the Feminine Energy and many could feel the tremendous energy present as we quietly meditated with the sound of the River in the background. We gathered around a cloth which had been left out overnight keeping up a tradition that Bridget sweeps over the land on the night of Imbolc and infuses such cloths with healing properties. Everyone present got a piece of the cloth and some seeds to plant at this spring time.
One among us had a vision involving a large multi-petalled crystal, a fox and a crow in the middle of our circle. The fox of course has long been associated with St Bridget. As if we needed any more reminders why we were there, some of us spotted a cloud shaped like the number “3”...significant as we had been discussing the “Triple Goddess” aspect of Danu and remembering the triples that arose during Imbolc celebrations a couple of years ago ( documented elsewhere on this web site).
We then moved inside where there was healing, meditation, a piece on Feminine Energy and then a Sigil was made by each person present. This is a symbol which represents ones dreams and it represented the seeds of our dreams being sown – to be harvested in the coming year.
At this stage we were all quite hungry so the soup and sandwiches provided were more than welcome. Much chatting and laughter followed until we disbanded well nourished both physically and spiritually!
It’s worth noting that the process of making a Sigil involves getting the message of ones dream into the subconscious mind. As the subconscious has no concept of time, an intention should be stated in the present tense . This led to an insight that was gained during the proceedings, as follows:
“As the universe/divine/source has no concept of time or distance, so my subconscious has no concept of time or distance.
Therefore, I and the universe/divine/source are one and the same.”
Quote and inspiration from Rhiannon Barkemeijer de Wit - (http://www.pyramidcompany.com/CJT/index_GoddessDanu.htm)
Goddess Danu is considered the most ancient of all Celtic Deities. Her name means knowledge, wisdom, teacher, wealth and abundance. Danu is strongly associated with the Tuatha de Dannan, which means “The Children of Danu.” The Tuatha de Dannan are believed to have been the wise ones, the alchemists of ancient Ireland.
Rivers, flowing water and the sea are also Danu’s Domain, hence meeting on the banks of the river. Within this water form she wields the magic of Divine Flow. This River Goddess offers to clear stagnant energy and to remove blockages so that our efforts easily flow into fruition. As the river eventually flows into the sea, here Danu brings motivation to move within the direction of our dreams. (For the nerds out there, this Goddess gave the great European River Danube its name).
Within this energy, Danu is the Goddess of Dreams Come True, reminding us that we are absolutely worthy and completely capable of realizing our Greatest Dreams while also reminding us that we innately know our Highest Truth. Enabling us to transcend lesser goals born of low self worth and goals born of the lower self’s limited vision, empowering us to embrace our Golden Dreams, Dreams worthy of our Divine Consciousness.
For those who seek to Remember their Highest Truth, Danu is dedicated to our realising our greatest dreams, she is motivating, encouraging and always promotes the awareness that the power to achieve anything, resides within us.
|Brigid's crosses made from Cork rushes- thanks to Martin|
Many thanks to Nancy for sharing her Brigid flame lit in Nova Scotia, Canada:
Nan Brister brought "the flame" from the relighting ceremony in Kildare to Nova Scotia.
1 February 2015
Snowdrops in Zurich
Unexpectedly appear to celebrate Imbolc
(thanks to Marta for the photo)
22 January 2015 -
Snow on the Eastern Moors of Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, England
1 February 2015 -
Guardian in the centre of Bakewell town can feel a melting sensation
|Moon over Cumbria (Armathwaite) - thanks to Ros for this lovely photo.|
Hello. Dia dhaoibh. Hope everyone is enjoying the slowly lengthening days, and especially the beautiful full moon this week. New born lambs are out in the fields. We will not dwell on the lack of snow so far this year as we still have February to get through.
An outline from our Designer is:
Welcome all -- take places - calm your mind -- open the circle -- explain what is in circle
background on imbolg -- any other info from anyone?
snowballs (made with tissue paper) with intentions from the custom of throwing the last snowballs to say good bye to the winter.
welcoming the light ( grow your own - sharing of anenome corms)
making crosses with intentions for next phase of the year
open heart contributions - close circle - happy chats and snacks.
As always the above is a guideline and could change subject to circumstances at the time.
Look forward to meeting up again on the 1st. If you cannot make it in person please light a candle and join in with the lovely energies of Tara and the ceremony.
Many thanks to Pat and Susan for these photos
The room fell silent as we all concentrated on making our Brigid's crosses
When describing the legend of Brigid hanging her cloak on a sunbeam to dry, this sunbeam lit the north east wall of the room, in the direction of Faughart where Brigid is said to have been born. A wow moment. Just a coincidence?
An inspired verse created by Martin Dier on St Brigid's Day
Constrained by winters embrace
Now the silence speaks
Brooding yet pulsing with life
Swaying knowing my time is at hand
I am returned
I romance the stars of heaven
My smiling crescent moon gathers my cloak of clouds
I am the dance of ecstatic release
Exploding in light
Radiating effervescent life in the great darkness
I am the vibrant flow of the all embracing river
I am returned
I am Brigit
Outside the rivers are in flood with heavy winter rains. Here are two swans finding a piece of swampy land in the middle of a flooded River Boyne at Curley Hole.
Radiating Light in Eastern Canada
and Susan Connolly verses shared by Ros - Brigit
Run, little fox,
past hermit cell
and derelict castle,
past river and monastery
and quaint rose cottage.
Through oak wooded
weaving your way -
run swiftly now
in the open air.
Brigit called a wild fox
out of the forest.
That fox was you!
You played for a while
and went safe through the forest,
the king on his horse
Brigit hung her wet robe
to dry on a ray of sun.
If they touched
the sick were healed.
'Every stranger is Christ',
she said, and gave
People came to visit her.
A playful fox drew near.
She believed in mercy.
In the doorway of her
mother's house at sunrise
Brigit was born.
A fox howled
the day she died.
though the same land
In 2013 we are inspired by two venues and thus we offer the option of joining us on the Hill of Tara or at Brigid's well, next to the National Stud car park in Kildare.
The start time at both venues is 3.30pm on 2nd February.
At Imbolc we celebrate Brigid in her many guises and this is particularly true with our gatherings for 2013. At our planning meeting three aspects of the Lady Brigid presented themselves during our meditation: as a healer, with the gift of her healing cloth, the Bhrat Bhride; as a protector, represented by the red eared cow that provided her milk as a babe, and her cross; as an energy of renewal spreading her cloak over the land invigorating new growth in springtime. Also drawing our attention was the balance of Brigid and Patrick, of above and below, of the flows of life bringing new vision, the low sun sucking the colours out of the landscape, and blue and white.
Hill of Tara
Healing – sharing Bhrat Bhride and sending intentions to the earth with water from St. Patricks Well, Tara.
Hill of Tara
Renewal – walking anti clockwise sharing the base note essence of lemon and the top note of frankinsence, blessing the land.
St Brigid's Eve at the Holy Well on Hill of Tara
9 people, 7 women and 2 men and a little lady dog - so 10 in total - met at the gate onto the Hill. We started our journey from the gate and settled between the two mounds. We had expected to split the group and go to two different parts of the Hill but we were not to split up, it felt we were all to stay together. There were children playing and laughter as they ran down the mucky hills. We called in the directions. Even though we were in a dip in the hill you could still see for miles, each person seeing something different. Eileen started with a beautiful story about Bridget, where she was born and the meaning of the cross. All enjoyed to hear how she was born in Dundalk and her father was a Celt.
We passed seeds for new ideas and growth. Then I did a healing circle and talked about the meaning of the Brid cloth and how it was left out in the dew on Bridget's eve and its journey to Tara and St Patrick's well. I wrapped Eileen in the cloth first, in supporting her and giving healing with the Brid cloth. And so it went around the circle as I drummed, using a Celt drum I felt called to bring, which I never did before. It was a gentle beat on the drum until it came back to me, then healing for family and friends by saying positive words. All this time the dog stayed still and focused like she knew what was coming before I did. It's just dawned on me she kept looking at each one of us and I did say a few words about thanking her for being there. Then we sent out healing for the world before open heart contributions and it was one of thanks and blessings. We finished by closing the directions. Bernadette
Protection - weaving Brighid's crosses, tying with red ribbon or white Bhrat Brid - connecting heaven and earth by acknowledging the Milky Way and land blessing by pouring the life juice of milk - lighting a candle from the cave grotto of Mary Magdalene in France.
Protection invoked at Bride's Well, Calgath, Kilcock
Protection invoked at Brigid's Well & Shrine, Kildare
Protection invoked at Brigid's Well, National Stud, Kildare
Leaving Navan at 11am it was an easy drive to St Martin of Tours, Culmullen, for a short stop and tune in (his feast day is 11 November 11.11) The sun shone white on the journey via Kilcock, Sallins and M7, arriving at the Brigid shrine and then on to the third Brigid Well, National Stud, at 1.30pm. Straw covered the ground and drips from candles spattered the tarmac of the car park. Unlike the two previous wells, this well was undecorated. No crosses, ties, statues, more like St Patrick's well on Tara. Just healing water and sacred space with no human interventions.
A few people passed by whilst weaving Brigid's crosses, then at 3.30pm I lit the candle, poured milk onto the land behind the well, and asked that the protection of Brigid be sent across the land to Tara, onwards to Brigid's well at Faughart, linking those places, then spread out across the land, and out again across time and space. At 3.45pm I set the intention to return to Tara via Summerhill to join everyone for a cup of tea, and that happened, arriving at just before 5pm. Thankyou Brigid for a magical journey. Nora.
Imbolc is truly a liminal time of the year. It is the doorway we pass from the old winter to new spring. It is a birthing time in nature when the first of the flowers (Snowdrops) and buds come into bloom. It is a time associated with the goddess of the land expressing herself in pure form .
During our meditation to tune into the energies of this celebration we all seemed to tune into the idea of trees, thresholds, stones, rushes, cosmic order and bridges. We also saw how the idea of triplicity was a strong theme running through our planning.
The goddess is seen as either a virgin, maiden or crone. These may be described as her three main personas that change with the moon or season. The moon, for example, passes through 3 distinct phases from new, through crescent to full. The Celts had a wonderful system of triads eg. Three purposes for the return of souls to this world: to collect into the soul the properties of all being, to acquire knowledge of all things, to acquire the power to overcome chaos.
Imagine how surprised we were to then discover that on page 333 of a certain book was described a forest walk in Faughert (Where Brigit was born) over a bridge leading through trees to a stone circle -a place to monitor the cosmic order.
So why not join us to connect with the time of year, to tune into the cosmic wisdom of the goddess in a light hearted way and to earth that process by channelling that into the Brigit’s cross which, amongst other things, is a symbol for the cosmic cycle.
Outline of the Ceremony
We had planned to pause 3 times on our way to the stone circle at three different types of gateways. The First a bridge over flowing water representing the threshold of the past, inviting us to come into the present. The Second the threshold formed between the uprights of the forest trees that invites us to come into the present moment and the third gateway is the gateway of the stones in the stone circle inviting us to consider where we want to focus our growth for the coming year. As so often happens, on the day we had to change our plans. We shared our three gateways at the bridge, with three blessings - each participant passed onto their neighbour a blessing with Holy water from Brigit’s well (Faughart), blessing them with a piece of Brigit’s Cloth and blessing them with our Brigit’s cross.
We had also planned to take the time to tune into the setting by listening to a story on Brigit and the birds and to stimulate fun and joy at this formative time of the cycle to play a simple ball game to raise the energies and keep warm. But again the trickster intervened and because those holding the energy for those parts of the ceremony could not attend we dropped them. A good teaching in flexibility and adapting to changing situations. An energy that prevails this Imbolc! And hence Bernie led a tripartite meditation with a structured lead in, a silent middle and a structured, grounding exit. After expanding consciousness through meditation and meeting with the infinitely creative Brigit we returned down hill to the picnic tables by the car park and weaved some Brigit’s crosses to keep for the coming year as a source of constant inspiration and creativity.
The Mantle of Brighid about us,
The Memory of Brighid within us,
The Protection of Brighid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark,
Ó óich go híoch. ..... from Caitlin Mathews
water - mist rising over the valley
|fire - smoke rising from sparklers|
Brigid's cross and blue clothcentre stage in the stone circle
Brigid's cross and white cloth
within 3 temporary circles of stones
Imbolc 5 Feb 12:23pm , Tower of Lloyd, Kells, Co. Meath (signposted peoples park, on the Oldcastle road out of kells). Please assemble for 12:15.
Moving out of the Shadow and into the Light.
A chairde - at certain times you just know you are being led by spirit. Planning this ceremony and everyone thinking of the same time & odd location, we knew we were marching to the beat of a big drum! For the past two Imbolc celebrations we have been secure in the underground chamber of the Fourknocks, but this year we knew that it had to be on a hill, outside, like a bulb pushing its shoots above ground. We had to come out of the shadows and into the light! And this quickly became the theme and subtitle of the ceremony. Like the plant bulb it is a time for casting off the dark Samhain shell and standing naked (metaphorically, before anyone gets any ideas) in the world, growing skyward with the shoots and earthward with the roots. At this point in time we are choosing a high location and drawing down the greatest potential energy of the sun at this time of year. The tower of Lloyd is an enigmatic inland, light house. It is a symbol of hope and direction and is a site with a lot of radio antennae, symbolising communications on an etheric level. The odd starting time of 12:23 is a specific time and was arrived at by intuitive hits and the only sense we can make of it is that it closely approximates local noon.
Order of Ceremony: starting at 12:23pm
After the introduction the circle will be smudged to remove misqualified energies and mark sacred space. The Light will be passed around to remind participants that we are “beings of the light in the light”. The Directions are marked to orient oneself in sacred space. And then we introduce the Cailleach, the winter goddess who rules over Samhain and all that is dark. She will collect the darkness from each individual so that they may be unburdened and move into growth without baggage. The Cailleach gathers all the darkness in her cauldron and keens over it to acknowledge its passing. The baggage is then transformed by fire and turns into light.
With the shedding of the darkness we use a tai chi movement to draw down the sunlight and also bring nourishment from the earth roots to feed the plant arms which allows the plant to grow taller, which allows the plant to draw more nutrients and so on in a circular fashion. We will then ponder on the inspirational story of the King of the Birds and allow our spirits to rise into the ethers. A metaphor for growth. A metaphor for the times we live in.
We are then asking participants to share the meditations of their hearts in the form of poetry, prose or anything else that inspires them with our open heart contributions part. This is of course a welcome opportunity for absent celebrators’ to contribute to the celebration of the season.
To weave this all together in there will follow a simple dance with a weaving, snake like motion where those stood in a circle will be part of a weave . An ever growing line of people will weave in and out of the circle eventually absorbing and transforming the stationary circle into a living and dynamic force. The Directions will be “closed “ and we return to ordinary space, enriched to enjoy some home made food. We will put some pictures up after the event.
Please note that there is a Height restriction of 2.1m, anybody with big heads or transit vans will have to limbo under the gate.
Kells or Ceanannas Mór from Ceann Laois translates as the head fort (headford). Kells gave its name to the Book of Kells in which it was associated strongly. In 1152 Irish monasticism was changed to diocessan church. In 1690 a force of Willimates camped on what is now lloyd hill under Thomas Lloyd of Enniskillen. 100 years later Lloyd spire was erected by the Thomas Taylor in memory of his father. The site is alsoreached by a Mass path which is now part of the Ringfort walk.
image from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KellsFol007vMadonnaChild_V2.jpg
A page from the book of Kells circa 800AD shows the virgin and child. However, hidden in the folds of her garments the figure displays her breasts. Brigid was modeled on the Virgin Mary as part of her medieval make over but even in this image the virility innate in each of us is given expression. It was an image used in our ceremony to help us connect with our heritage and deep wisdom. If the book of Kells were indeed written in Kells then this image is all the more apt.
Brigid was keeper of the sacred flame. Similarly, this lantern stayed lit on Tara whilst we were in Kells.
The King of the Birds story and photos shared by Anne
Fado fado, when the world was young the birds of the air had a big gathering to decide who was King of the Birds. As they couldn't agree they decided to ask owl, the wise bird, for her advice. She suggested a competition to see who could fly the highest. They thought this was a wonderful idea so all agree to have the competition the next day at sunrise. Sure enough, as the sun rose so did the birds. The first to drop out was the blue tit, then the robin, the dunnock. the chaffinch. One by one the birds flew high until they could go no further and had to return to earth. The raven soared high and thought , "I've won". But then he heard the skylark singing above him. The skylark sang with joy, but then realised the buzzard was high above him. The buzzard thought , "I am king, I am the highest soaring here on the thermals". But high above him he heard the honk of the goose. the goose thought . "I 'll win 'coz i have to fly high to get long distances". But high above them all, the eagle soared on and on towards the sun. He flew until he could fly no higher and declared, "I am king" and he started to descend. Just then a little wren, who had been hiding in his soft feather fly higher and higher, saying look at me " I am King of the Birds" And that is how the clever little wren became King of the Birds.
And that is how the story was told to me when i was young.
However, in the past week i have heard two alternate endings to the story. Another ending: The eagle landed and complained that the wren hadn't flow all the way. After a lot of arguing , the birds asked the Wise Owl. She thought about it and said. "the wren did not fly all the way, so he cheated. the Eagle is King of the Birds. " And from that day on, the little wren had to hide her shame and flit around on the ground in the shrubs.
An third ending: the eagle, realising that the wren had one, lost his temper and grabbed the wren and flung him down to earth. the wren hit the ground hard and lay there. the other birds gathered round. the wren survived but broke her tail. From that day to this, the little wren has a short tail, but sings the sweetest song as she was the victorious King of the Birds.
A week after the celebration the snowdrops are still where we left them
The spire was turned bright green for St. Patricks day and today(23/3/11) an announcement that the area will be planted with €230,000 worth of broad leaved trees creating eco trails and eventually an attractive woodland.
Brigid Update 2010
Following the Autumn Equinox gathering at Dowth Brigid moved to sunnier climes in Girona, Spain, with ELyn and Gary - http://www.powerfulplaces.com/ .
Crossing the Atlantic with her friends to the States Elyn says Brigid had many wanderings and circuitous travels and is now at Denver in Colorado. http://honeybunnyandbrownbear.blogspot.com/
20 December 2010
Samhain Brigid arrives at Fourknocks to find the door closed
Are you dancing? ...... Are you asking?
Oh, the uncertainty of the dance! Our dance of life is familiar in the turning seasons as the year does its own circle dance. But we feel that the energies of this year seem to be stirring with an air of the unknown, a certain amount of uncertainty, a belief we see reflected in the massive challenges courting our country and our world. The shifting magnetic poles, the earthquake in Haiti, the confusion of traditional seasonal boundaries.
We now enter the season of Imbolc, Spring. Leaving behind the Samhain period of death, mourning and conception, we are at the threshold of promised things to come. And yet... when will winter end? This year it has been a hard, ice-cold time, maybe it is not finished yet? Maybe we should not go into the garden and sow just yet, maybe we should keep those packets of seed unopened a little longer? Maybe the earth is not quite ready?
And in our own lives it is time to put plans into action, to catch the fresh energy of Spring or should we wait a little longer? As the sun climbs higher in the sky and the days lengthen we long to get going, to change job, move house, our thoughts and desires are stirring, and yet we are not sure whether to cross the threshold into our futures... Life seems to be changing and yet there are delays, uncertainty and confusions. Brigid, nature personified at this time, is the Goddess of Smithcraft. She shows us that, in the warmth of Spring, as we melt down to our component parts, we can be reshaped and redefined into new patterns. We have choices. We now have to decide how we want to shape the base metal of our lives and personalities for the coming year.
Order of the Day
There will be lunch in Maguires followed by last minute directions to the place of ceremony. When we arrive we will create sacred space by smudging misqualified energies from ourselves and also the surrounding atmosphere. Then we orient ourselves in our environment by being mindful of the different types of sponsoring energies we wish to align with for the ceremony. Participants will be challenged with a riddle and blessed with a spiral of water on the third eye, with water from the 'Well of the Dark Eye of Tara'.
After creating a sacred space, we will stand in silence, actively listening to the earth. Starting with silence, with listening, we are responding to the quietness of this time of year.
Then we will breath; inspiration, warmth and energy into the earth, through a candle, in order to 'breathe life' into Gaia. To wake her up from her winter hibernation.
Candle light symbolically warming up the earth and ourselves
We return into the silent void. Listening intently.
A heartbeat is the most physical indentifiable statement of intangible life. We will have a heartbeat drum beat to help shift the energies from hibernation to wakefulness and listen with our whole bodies to the waking energy.
We return to the silent void. Listening intently.
Societies the world over have encoded deep seated spiritual beliefs into dance and so we will be using rhythmic rattling and simple movements to help externalise the deeper rhythm of life. We will dance with the earth and with each other.
Following that we will have an open heart contribution where participants are invited to support the energy with a song, poem or other meaningful thought, act or deed.
This will be a magical, mystery tour of uncertainty. We are not revealing where the ceremony will be held until the day. Numbers are limited so please get in touch now if you want to be part of the Imbolc gathering, celebrating the intrepid returning life force to earth.
Weaving the new Brigid's crosses
Imbolc - preparing for Spring and Summer abundance -
Native red deer shed their antlers and Samhain Brigid casts off her winter darkness
The door is opened... but how did Samhain Brigid transform?
with a little help from her friends....
Brigid's cloak was made with intuition and instinct. It is veil like. Coincidentally, the gathering was held on St. Mels day and it was St. Mel that 'veiled' Brigid when she was ordained. The sheep's wool was gathered from Tara and Loughcrew - Sliabh na Callaigh - and this is, of course, lambing time.
Woven in the veil fabric is birch bark. This came from a birch tree in RTE grounds in Dublin - RTE has Brigid's cross as a logo. Traditions suggest that birch bark represents new beginnings, poetry and inspiration. The red felt pieces symbolise Brigid in her smith aspect, representing the red hot hearth and the perpetual sacred flame at Kildare. Strips of red felt from Kildare were gifted at the opening of Sil and Chroi (Way of the Heart) and was put out on Brigid's Eve as a Bhrat Bhride.
The blue tie reminds us of St. Brigid's well, and the healing waters of purification.
One small swan's feather represents the connections suggested between Fourknocks and the constellation of the Swan, that travels on the Milky Way. Swan is said to be the dreamkeeper.
Waiting for Brigid - 31 January / 1 February 2010
Bhrat Og cloth is blessed by the moon whilst waiting for dawn on Tara - we shall be sharing pieces with everyone at the Imbolc gathering
Frogs are a powerful symbol for this time of year. They suddenly emerge from their sleeping darkness, croaking loudly, laying spawn and jumping into new life.
They are at home equally on land and in water suggestive of mediumship and they jump from one state of consciousness to another easily.
Their spawn is a very obvious sign of spring and its appearance reminds us to be preparing for new growth in the future.
There is lore which states frogs can predict the summer weather by the position of their spawning clumps. If the clumps are found in deep water the frogs are expecting a dry summer so move to deeper water to ensure supplies for the tadpoles. If they expect wet weather they will spawn close to the edge of the pool ! Apparently!
This shy bullfinch is waiting for Spring 2010 in a garden in Peak District, Derbyshire, England
Snowdrops the victory of Brigid and the return of life/light over darkness/death
Below are a selection of rush crosses and 2 different coloured Bhrat Bríde as well as the tri spiral
Imbolc arrived and saw us journey to the ancient site of the Fourknocks with invited guests. This was a stunningly beautiful ceremony based on Irish traditions which saw the crone of winter / caileach circle the monument three times before entering as Bridgit (one of her alter egos) with the light to represent the return of the sun.
The old dross of negativity and all that no longer serves was transformed by the Crone bringing it to the light. The assembled crowd chanted Ohm, the primordial sound of creation to invigorate the imbolc energies in the land at this ancient power spot criss crosed with ley lines, water lines and blind springs. Bridgits healing mantle (Bhrat Bríde), candles and warm soup were then shared to bring our ritual to a close. All this in the ancient magical chamber of the Fourknocks.
Imbolc is often referred to in Irish as the stirring in the belly. It is a way of describing the fertility process of pregnancy. Imbolc is a fire festival that recognises that after the darkness and void that is Samhain comes the dynamism of Yin and Yang, female and male. The polarisation of these two opposites creates a third dynamic, that of the child.
Imbolc is thus associated within the human as the first invisible trimester of pregnancy or in the greater world as fecundity in general. On a personal or spiritual level it reminds us to link in with our inspiration and ideas as these have the potential to grow to maturity and change our world for ever. The Irish deity associated with this is the Shela na gig who emphasises the dark opening of the womb from which all life comes. This has been sanitised somewhat and St. Brigid is our modern day Christian counterpart of the yin energy of Imbolc, whilst St. Patrick represents the Yang at the other end of the season of Imbolc. These two forces come together to give us the overt fertility of Bealtaine.
Jackie recorded the events of a cold, but enjoyable, February afternoon
During part of our Ritual Meditation the old winter crone dressed in black took off her cloak to reveal the young and virginal Bridgit, following the ancient tradition of an Brídóg. The Brídóg sits under the St. bridgits cross made on the hill during the meditation and also the Blue Cloth to her right is another ancient tradition of the Bhrat Bríde. The Bhrat was left out on the eve of St. bridgit where tradition says she passes over the country leaving her healing essence behind in the dew. The Bhrat is then used to treat illness over the following year. Our Bhrat is surrounding our healing box with the intentions placed there by the meditation group.
Feathers ruffled to keep warm
when icy winds blow,
The birds wait patiently
to pick the crumbs we throw .
Thanks to Beth Kirkham for this lovely verse... she celebrated Imbolc in Derbyshire, England
Brigids cross travels from the Hill of Tara to Roslin in Scotland
Jackie Queally, who joined in the Imbolc celebration on Sunday, returned home and placed her cross outside the crypt window of Roslin Chapel. Thanks Jackie for your presence and for these photos of the cross in situ and the view it has looking out over Roslin Glen.
Brigit's Cross travels across the Atlantic to Asheville, North Carolina
I was inspired to bring one of the St. Brigids crosses on a surprise holiday to America. (I was going on holiday, not the cross). When I reached Asheville the energies seemed incredibly disturbed as the land which was important to the Cherokee had been "developed". There were many troubled souls in the area with the near by hotel famous for its ghosts. The energy of the land was trí na céile so I was inspired to put the cross here for the native americans who were killed in this area. We will be linking in with this area to calm the land using the cross as an anchor and a focus for the Brigidine healing energies.
Picture by August Malmström
Many thanks to Thomas Eriksson, Motala, Östergötland, Sweden for this article. Thomas participated in the Tara celebrations/ritual meditations whilst living in Ireland. He liked what he saw, made a connection with his homeland in Sweden and has drawn parallels between the two cultures.
What I do know is that the Dísablót was celebrated in honor of the Dísir, which translates into "ladies", and were the Norse goddesses. Also the valkyries and norns were Dísir. I assume you know of the valkyries, who were responisble for bringing fallen warriors to Valhalla. The norns were goddesses of fate, the most famous being Urðr, Verðandi and Skuld. Who you might known as "The Wyrd Sisters" or "The Weird Sisters", "Wyrd" being an old English word for Urðr, meaning "Fate".
The Three Norns The Goddesses Urth, Verthandi and Skuld. The Norns stand at the base of the World Tree.
The main goddess for the Dísablót was Freyja (some times known as Vanadís), who was the leader of the dísir and the goddess of fertility. The blót was mainly held to insure a good harves for the coming year.
The symbols for Freyja include: the falcon (which was her shape-shifted form), the boar (she and her twin brother/husband Freyr both owned a magical boar), her necklace (made of golden and amber and forged by the three most skilled dwarven smiths and traded to her with a night in bed for each of them), her cloak (made of falcon feathers and allowed her to change into any kind of bird) and a chariot pulled by cats.
One source (Hervarar saga) leads us to belive that the Dísablót was held solemny by women, but another one (Heimskringla) says that it was led by the high priest of Uppsala, who was also the king of Sweden.
The first of these sources say that the doughter of the elven king was kidnapped while preparing the hörgr (an altar made with piled stones) with blood. The second one tells us that the king Aðils, who supposedly ruled Sweden during the 6th century, died when falling of his horse and splitting his skull while riding around the shrine.
The Disting, or "Disæþing" as it was called in the old nordic tongue, was a big fair held in Uppsala in conjunction with the Dísablót. It was sometime called the "Ting of all Swedes" (ting being an political assembly), because so many people assembled from all around Sweden (or what was Sweden at the time), or at least Svealand, to meet and trade with each other. The fair lasted for about a week and was abolished in 1895. This is from Snorri Sturlusons saga Heimskringla:
"In Svithjod it was the old custom, as long as heathenism prevailed, that the chief sacrifice took place in Goe month at Upsala. Then sacrifice was offered for peace, and victory to the king; and thither came people from all parts of Svithjod. All the Things of the Swedes, also, were held there, and markets, and meetings for buying, which continued for a week: and after Christianity was introduced into Svithjod, the Things and fairs were held there as before. After Christianity had taken root in Svithjod, and the kings would no longer dwell in Upsala, the market-time was moved to Candlemas, and it has since continued so, and it lasts only three days."
Goe month means February and Svithjod is Svealand (which I have mentioned earlier) and that was the northenmost part of Sweden at the time, before the big part in the north was incorporated (parts of which was stolen from Norway and Finland). Svealand is the part of Sweden that actually gave it its current name.
Some more Imbolc photographs and.....
Some strange Brigit Facts
I bet you didnt know Brigit was an Ice queen six feet tall with a magic snow leopard cat thing and that she frequently is fond of a few stiff bevys and has just come out of rehab!
Thats Brigit the 6 foot ice queen and her magic ice panther type dog type thingy.
And Below you see the mysterious brigit writing .... answers on the back of a post card please.
And yes Snuggles the cat does know a magic snow panther dog type thingy and looks suitably shocked. Snuggles is recovering with TLC next door.
And this is Brigid before Rehab.......................................................................................and Brigid after Rehab
Little robin red breast said he was delighted about Brigits recovery.
But later that night...... It wasnt long before brigit was back to her old ways and getting down to Limbo
This can only end in one way..............
Brigid continues to defy the law of gravity
Page last updated: 8th Mar 2017