Imbolc, Brighid, and the return of the snow

As I write this we are in the midst of a classic winter storm. This year it almost feels as if the weather hereabouts has gotten back to “normal” (whatever that is). I can remember 20 foot snow drifts, higher than a school bus, back when I was a teenager and going to the Putney School in Vermont. I remember wind so cold I had to wear an old nylon stocking over my face, just to keep it from frost bite. Now they call that kind of cold a “Polar Vortex” and everyone acts surprised.

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal are sheltering in the Rhododendron bush next to the living room window. Other birds are chomping away at the seeds and suet I put out and I have seen fresh Coyote or Coy-Wolf  tracks in the snow every day. The flock of wild turkeys that has adopted me hasn’t been around for a few days. Hopefully they are roosting high up in a conifer somewhere, safe from the snow and predators. When the storm is over I will put out my usual cracked corn for them, at the edge of the driveway.

I love late January and early February because that is the time of year when my Patroness, the Goddess Brighid, is honored. I don’t know what happens in other parts of the world but here in New England we have a yearly event called “The January Thaw” when the air gets warm for about a week and water drips from roof tops and puddles and mud form in driveways. In Celtic traditions it is said that when Brighid walks the countryside, everywhere She steps the ice melts and the Earth turns to green. It is far from green here, but we certainly get hints of Spring at the time of Her festival.

I always know that Brighid is here by the weather, and I put out a candle in the snow, oatmeal or oatmeal cookies for Her and her donkey, and a basket of cloths to be used for healing throughout the year, for Her to bless. That magical time is now over and the snow is dropping on us in buckets, by this evening we will have a foot or more.

Here are some prayers and invocations that I like to use.

INVOCATION OF BRIGHID
(from PRIESTESS OF THE FIRE TEMPLE – A DRUID’S TALE)

by Ellen Evert Hopman
(translation by Alexei Kondratiev)

A Brigit, a ban-de beannachtach
Tair isna huisciu noiba,
A ben inna teora tented trena,
Isin cherdchai,
Isin choiriu,
Ocus isin chiunn,
No-don-cossain,
Cossain inna tuatha.

O Brighid, blessed Goddess
Come into the sacred waters
O woman of the three strong fires,
In the forge,
In the cauldron,
In the head.
Protect us.
Protect the people.

~   ~   ~

Brighid, Patroness of the Druids and Bards
By Ellen Evert Hopman

(From A DRUID’S HERBAL FOR THE SACRED EARTH YEAR, Destiny Books)

Beloved Brighid of the triple flame
Daughter of the Dagda
Guardian of the sacred spring
Whose voice is the soul of the harp
We call on thee.
Teach our hands to heal
and our hearts to sing.
We entrust our life’s progress to your care
and ask that you shape us
bending and turning our hearts
on your bright anvil of flame
till we are made perfect jewels
fit to be set into the eye
of your timeless harp
to play for the soul of the people
in times of sorrow and times of celebration.
We thank you for your gifts to us
of poetry and music
of laughter and tears
and for the healing balm of your wisdom.
May we always remember to meditate
on the gift of your sacred waters
which surround us at our birth
and sail us to our destiny.
Our hearts are open
to receive your blessing.
Midwife of our souls, rain on us.
Shower your inspiration
in curtains of song
from sacred waterfalls
in the realm where you dwell.
Come to us as Virgin
with the soft smell of flowers.
Come to us as Mother
and feed us your fruits.
Come to us as the Wise Woman
in the stark blasts of Winter.
Help us to see your Mystery in all creation
that we may know gratitude
and reverence.
Our hearts sing to you with love.
Teach us to change
like the revolving seasons.
Teach us to grow
like the green corn that feeds the people.
Teach us to fashion beauty
like the stillness of the forest pool
and the roar of the ocean wave.
Teach us to heal
like the soothing gem
which cools the eyes and Restores the limbs.
With humility and bright expectation
We invoke thee this hour!

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