Group Ritual To Honor Brighid at Imbolc

Lantern at Dusk
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This ritual is designed for a group of individuals, but could easily be adapted for a solitary practitioner. Imbolc is the time between Yule and the Spring Equinox, the halfway point in the dark months of the year. It's the time when the days suddenly seem to be getting longer, and the snow is beginning to melt, showing us small patches of earth and green. At this time of returning spring, our ancestors lit bonfires and candles to celebrate the rebirth of the land.

In many areas of the Celtic world, this was the fire feast of Brighid, the Irish goddess of hearth and home. She is the keeper of the flame, the protector of the home, and a goddess of holy wells and springs. At Imbolc, we acknowledge her many aspects, especially that of her role as a deity of transformation. As the world awakes from the dark slumber of winter, it is time to cast off the chill of the past and welcome the warmth of spring.

Cassia is part of a Pagan group in New York that honors Brighid each year with a small, private ceremony at Imbolc. She says, "We see the Imbolc season as a time of change and renewal. It's when we're all coming out of hibernation, getting off the couch and peeking out the window to see if the snow has started to melt yet. We try to do a ritual each year on Brighid's feast day, and we honor her as the keeper of the hearthfire that kept us warm and fed all winter."

To do this ritual, set up your altar with the symbols of Brighid and the coming spring -- a Brighid's cross or dolly, potted daffodils or crocuses, white and red yarn or ribbon, young fresh twigs, and lots of candles. Also, you'll need an unlit candle for each participant, a candle to represent Brighid herself, a plate or bowl of oats or oatcakes, and a cup of milk.

If you normally cast a circle in your tradition, do so now. Each member of the group should hold their unlit candle before them.

The HPs, or whoever is leading the rite, says:

Today is Imbolc, the day of midwinter.
The cold has begun to fade away,
and the days grow longer.
This is a time in which the earth is quickening,
like the womb of Brighid,
birthing the fire after the darkness.

The HPS lights the Brighid candle, and says:

Bright blessings at midwinter to all!
Brighid has returned with the sacred flame,
watching over home and hearth.
This is a time of rebirth and fertility,
and as the earth grows full of life,
may you find abundance on your own path.
Imbolc is the season of lambing, of new life,
and a time to celebrate the nurturing and warmth of Brighid.

At this time, the HPs takes the cup of milk, and offers a sip to Brighid. You can do this either by pouring it into a bowl on the altar, or by simply raising the cup to the sky. The HPs then passes the cup around the circle. As each person takes a sip, they pass it to the next, saying:

May Brighid give her blessings to you this season.

When the cup has returned to the HPs, she passes the oats or oatcakes around in the same manner, first making an offering to Brighid.

Each person takes a bit of the oats or cakes and passes the plate to the next, saying:

May Brighid's love and light nurture your path.

The HPS then invites each member of the group to approach the altar, and light their candle from the Brighid candle. Say:

Come, and allow the warmth of Brighid's hearth
to embrace you.
Allow the light of her flame
to guide you.
Allow the love of her blessing
to protect you.

When everyone has lit their candle, take a few moments to meditate on the warmth and nurturing nature of the goddess Brighid. As you bask in her warmth, and she protects your home and hearth, think about how you will make changes in the coming weeks. Brighid is a goddess of abundance and fertility, and she may help you guide your goals to fruition.

When you are ready, end the ceremony, or move on to other rituals, such as Cakes and Ale, or healing rites.