Imbolc 2021 - Exercising the Goddess Muscle - the Heart

Monday 1st February 2021 at Home

Beannachtaí lá fhéile Bríd dhiabh go léir

Imbolc is one of my favourite fire festivals. It is the feast that announces moving out of the winter darkness and into the start of spring.

In Ireland it has strong associations with Brigit (also known as Brigid, Bríd, Bridy, Bridget, Brigid, Briget, Brigita, Ffraid, Mary of the Gael).

This year's celebration will be done in our own homes due to Covid.

But this is exactly the type of environment that supports a healthy celebration and will add to the energetic health in our homes.

In preparation for this ceremony I couldn't think of anything else so had to go with what came up - to give me peace - so this celebration may have more of an edge than perhaps we are used to. In truth I feel that ritualising the hard stuff gives it a type of salve to help it move on and away.

I have included a suggested format for the ceremony and some inspirational music. I think it's the first time I've ever included a piece that is so full of righteous anger and hurt, but it's also crucial to work and wrestle with these issues as a collective, to move beyond the shock and hurt of winter into the warmth of compassion and the promise of a kind spring as a species.

Brigit was the offspring of Boann (goddess of fertility and the Boyne river) and the Dagda (good father, god of the Tuath De Danann).

As the church grew in Ireland her details were changed and she became an illegitimate child of Brocca, a mistress and slave of Dubhthach, and was subsequently sold into slavery by the insistence of Dubhthach's wife.

Later she was resold back to Dubhthach after the Druid she was sold to had enough of her. Her father also had enough of her and tried selling her to the king of Leinster. Brigit won her freedom and the right to work . She became a virtual mother to the poor, destitute and downtrodden.

There is a wealth of stories but for our ceremony I'm looking at the narrative of mothers and slavery.

Read some of the rich detail of St. Brigit here thanks to Anne.

Fast forward to the 60's and 70's (and before), to the days of the mother and baby homes.

These “homes” were set up to process unmarried mothers and their babies. Both mothers and babies were treated like slaves. But it was not just the church and State that were to blame but society who acquiesced it's power and better judgement. It is believed about 9000 babies died in these homes and 56000 mothers were processed.

It is we, as a society, that owe an apology to these mothers and babies.

We may consider "it was nothing to do with me", "I didn't know anyone affected". But this energy of "them and us" needs to be brought kicking and screaming from the shadows as it is replaying today before our very eyes in the Direct Provision centres. Centres where profit is made off the misery of migrants.

We can not as a society sit in criticism of mother and baby homes when the same thing is happening again with different actors today.

Perhaps we can see the parallels of Brigit, born into slavery and sold as a slave with no one wanting her, Brigit being someone else's problem.

Had we exercised our goddess muscle (heart) then we would not have what's going on in Direct Provision centres now, where the residents are little better than slaves with business trading them for profit through accommodation and food.

There were approximately 7,400 men, women and children living in the 38 Direct Provision centres across 17 counties in Ireland by the end of April 2020. Amnesty International state:

“Ireland’s Direct Provision system is an ongoing human rights scandal, trapping asylum seekers in limbo for years and violating their human rights. It is a fundamentally flawed system. No amount of reforms or improvements will ever make it acceptable. After 20 years of cruelty, it is well past time for the Government to finally end Direct Provision.”

What would Brigit do?

We can inform ourselves and say this is a terrible thing and leave it there which is okay, or we could find a migrant charity and donate, which is good, or better still we could email our politicians or sign a petition to end Direct Provision, which is better, or we may find ourselves entering these centres and treating people with kindness - exercising the goddess muscle we all have, the heart.

For further information go to the movement of asylum seekers in Ireland, www. MASI. ie

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is a grass-roots organisation based in Ireland. We are people who are or have been in the asylum and Direct Provision system in Ireland, working and advocating together for justice, freedom and dignity for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Our focus is on the Right to Education and the Right to Work for all people seeking asylum, on the complete abolition of Direct Provision and an end to deportations.

You can sign the Avaaz community petition here: community petitions - Ireland Justice Minister Abolish Direct Provision in Ireland

However masked or morphed, the goddess remains.

She is standing in the doorway of the shadow of winter, in the chains of migrants and the heart break of mothers and babies.

She is standing frozen in our hearts weighted with our own slavish thoughts and routines.

She needs our help to open our own hearts to our own slave master mindsets and engrained habits. In doing this for ourselves we add to the energy of love and compassion in this world and as Ghandi once said, we become the change we wish to see in the world.

I see the goddess as everything around us, nothing separate from us, everything that is kind and beneficent, not a personality that needs or seeks devotion..... but when we act in accord with our divine nature we naturally become the local extension of kindness and beneficence.

The divine is not limited to gender, that is only a human convenience which sees a dualistic world, which is a primitive world view and will only take us so far. Whatever is seen in the world is part of the seer. Good or bad. These qualities are in us also.

What we choose to identify with and how we choose to (re)act puts our divine nature to the fore.

So I thought it would be appropriate to act as Brigit did and give kindly to one another, with time, energy and love. Even while waiting to be sold to the High King, she gave her father's jewelled sword to the poor who could barter it for food, even though she had graver concerns pressing on her!

Brigit leads us like a guiding star and leaves us with a rich legacy.

So this Imbolc let us honour the spirit of Brigit, embody her energy, her magic and mantle and be kind to ourselves and to one another.

The ceremony is, like Solstice, a simple one.

Touching ourselves with unconditional love, gentleness and compassion to exercise the goddess muscle, the heart, and give to the goddess / world what she most needs.


Order of Ceremony

East: Fáilte East. I recall the birth of Brigit who was born in a doorway at the breaking of day. Her birth marks the beginning of fresh hope, full of promise and potential. I honour this creative flow and create space for magical birthing in my life. I place this seed in the east to represent new growth.

South: Fáilte South. I recall Brigit's warmth and beneficence. She gives as only a mother can, unconditionally. She was a sacred fire keeper and I call on her spirit to warm my heart and soul. I place this candle in the south to represent her fiery passion for life.

West: Fáilte West. I recall Brigit's watery wisdom to go with the flow in every situation, trusting that the universe had already provided. I welcome her trust in me to always do the right thing. I place this water in the west to represent Brigit's ability to fill the space she was given.

North. Fáilte North. I recall Brigit's lasting legacy on our culture and spirituality. She built the monastery in Kildare which still attracts thousands of people. With her help I too build a temple to the spirit in my heart. I place this stone to represent her physical and spiritual legacy

Centre. Fáilte centre. I recall Brigit's mastery of the arts, her skill in communication, her dedication to making life better for the poor, her kindness to strangers, her motherly love of those in her care and her child-like dependence on God. I place this incense in the centre to represent the unity of Brigit's diversity and her magical spirit and energy that to this day, wafts over us like a fragrant cloud.

Relax and breath. Imagine you are living, witnessing or watching a favourite story about Brigit. It is your job to be the witness to this beneficent energy and to bring it home by hearing, watching, witnessing.

... to remind us in the future of this special time and place. Create it in this environment with the intent of weaving in the magic of the ceremony. Hold the completed cross in front of you heart and bless it with every fibre of your being, from the deepest well of love in your heart. Allow this energy to reverberate in your being and channel it into any situation you are aware of that needs such a powerful gift. Craft Blog on making a Brigid's Cross

You can do this also with the Bhrat Bríd with the emphasis on healing.

Remember and mentally heal where you have been harsh on yourself.

Remember and heal where you have been less than kind to another.

Remember and heal where we have been less than kind to migrants, mothers or babies or any similar situation that has this type of energy of “them and us”.

Again whilst not being prescriptive I find a beautiful approach to this in Ho’oponopono. It's an ancient way of healing the world through praying in a way that recognises that everything in the world is an aspect of the self and what we focus on we get more of. A summery of its main modus operandi is:

“I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you, I thank you, I bless you”. (Google it)

Write on pieces of paper the energy you are channelling and burn it in a candle flame or fire, This may be for what you aimed for at Solstice and need to energise, or something from the life of Brigit you wish to ignite in yourself. There is no limit to the amount of paper you can burn.

Hold your hand to the flame and invite the flaming radiant energy of Brigit into your heart.

Touch your heart with as much love and acceptance as you can muster and more.

Then touch mother earth and channel that unconditional love into her heart. As you pray in the goddess, the goddess prays in you.

Send unconditional loving kindness to the earth, to the land that holds the sadness of mother and baby homes, to the land that holds the sadness of the refugee camps.

Finish on a high by sending as much love and light as you can to a favourite sacred site, home, or holy well.

Smile and Breathe.

Music to inspire you:

The Chieftans & Joni Mitchel – The Magdalene Laundries

Chloe Goodchild – Hymn to the Earth

Chloe Goodchild - OmTara

Jennifer Berezan – The Bodhisattva Vow

Mary Black & Eleanor McEvoy – Only a woman’s heart