As Wiccans, we celebrate the Goddess Brigid with rites on Her sacred day at Imbolc, also called in Her honour, Brigid.
On Brigid's Eve, the Goddess walks the Earth among us. She has been absent the whole winter long, leaving us in the cold, impersonal, dangerous embrace of the Hag of Winter, the Cailleach.
And finally She has returned... and we celebrate!
Brigid's holy day is February 2nd, also known as Imbolc. Imbolc rites are designed to honour this Goddess, who embodies the return of Spring and hope and life.
Goddess Brigid and Her Rites
Although worshipped primarily as a Sun Goddess, it's clear by the surviving Brigid rites of old that She is also worshipped as a Water Goddess and Earth Goddess as well.
This seems fitting, as Brigid has always been seen as a multiple deity — Triple Goddess, Two-faced Goddess.
On Brigid's Eve, the Goddess Herself was invited into the house in the form of reeds or stalks that would be used to make a Brigid's Cross — a Sun Wheel or Solar Cross, a sign of the Sun Goddess. (You can find out how to make one here: Cross of Brigid. It's easy and fun, and grants protection to your home throughout the year.)
There would then be a feast of welcome for the Spring Goddess.
On Imbolc morning, people would go to a lofty hill and sing a triumphant welcome to the Sun Goddess. Offerings of food and drink would be set out; some version of "cakes and ale" would be shared.
Candles would be blessed and lit. Families would gather at the hearth for warmth, light, cooking, and storytelling. The hearth fire was fed special woods, likely hawthorn.
Brigid's day was also a time for divination.
Imbolc would also be a time when Brigid's Cross from the previous year would be burnt.
Her holy wells would also be included in the celebration. Flowers, bits of cloth or items of clothing, coins and metal gifts would be left for the Goddess in thanks for the healing waters.
In some places, ancient traditional Brigid rites are still observed. Off the northwestern coast of Scotland is the Outer Hebrides, and there on Brigid's day, the women collectively create an image of the Maiden Goddess like a corn dollie, dressed in white and with a crystal at Her heart. They put her in a basket like a cradle, and bring her into the house with songs of celebration.
Another tradition that survives is leaving out libations for the Goddess: bread, milk, and a candle.
Any and all of these historical Imbolc traditions are wonderful as Brigid rites for modern Wiccans.
In Wicca, we celebrate Brigid with other rites as well.
Imbolc is seen as primarily as a women's celebration, and a celebration of women, and that influences much of what we do at Brigid. Rites that honour the Goddess, her priestesses, and daughters are appropriate. And also empowering women to lead, and focusing on the Divine Feminine, enhance Brigid's reverence during any Imbolc rituals.
The most important Brigid rite that Wiccans perform is our dedication to the Goddess (and God) and to our spiritual growth as a Wiccan.
When we first set foot on this path, we Dedicate ourselves and begin the year and a day of study. When we have learnt and practiced the fundamentals of Wicca to a certain level of competency, we are Initiated as full-fledged Wiccans.
And every year after that, we may take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, our love, our devotion.
Brigid is the Goddess of the earliest signs of Spring, of the seeds and bulbs beginning to germinate within the Earth Mother's womb. At this time, before things have been born and fixed into form, all potentials exist.
Gardeners know this time well. It's the time to choose which seeds you will plant, what crops and flowers you choose to grow this year.
In a similar way, Wiccans bless seeds and do seed magick for Brigid. The seeds are symbols for what we want to bring into our lives this year. We set our intentions, charge the seeds with the energy of what we want, and plant them to let the Goddess incorporate them and bring them to life.
In this way, Brigid reminds us as Wiccans that all futures exist as potential, and being responsible humans, we are required to make the choices for what we want to grow. We envision the future we want, we charge that vision with the power of belief and intention, and we let the Goddess take it from there. But She can't grow the seeds we don't plant! We must tell Her what we want, and in seed spells such as this, we sow the seeds for our future.
When you plant spell seeds, remember to care for them afterward. They hold power to fulfill your intentions.
See this article for more on Brigid Seed Spells: Bridgid / Imbolc: Planting the Seeds of Intention.
This is also a time when Wiccans honour and empower the priestesses among us. If you are a woman, this is a time to honour yourself as a woman...
Take stock of your skills and power. Accept that you are strong, capable, magickal, and wondrous!
Appreciate the beauty of the body you are in, just as you are right now. Give your body the love it craves!
A deceptively powerful daily practice is to place your hands over your heart and womb, and say to your body (as many repetitions as you like) ...
I love you, body!
I honour you, body!
I thank you, body!
I bless you, body!
Try this, and notice how your body drinks in appreciation like a woman dying in a desert would revel in a beautiful wet oasis!
Accept compliments with grace, and let the truth of them sink deep into your heart.
Set an intention to say only positive things about yourself, and to yourself.
Speak up; take up space; share your wisdom and your gifts.
You have something important to contribute to the world, and only you can do it. When others try to elbow you out or shut you down, push back! Not in an angry way, but simply asserting your right to be heard, your right to have a share of communal space.
Treat yourself to something that makes you feel good. A massage, a luxurious bath, a sauna, a long walk in the forest, a special dinner on the good china, a decadent desert. Whatever your treat, enjoy it to the full!
Chocolate eaten with full attention and absolute pleasure contains no calories, in my opinion.
You can do this for other women in your life too. Tell them what you appreciate about them. Mirror their strengths and magick back to them. Give them a card with these things written on it, so they can keep remembering their power and beauty.
Coming Into Power
In particular as a priestess of the Goddess, this is a good time to practice holding and wielding power in ritual and magick, and make a commitment to increase these skills in the year to come.
Many women have difficulty with holding power, and many men have difficulty sharing power. There are gender roles involved, as well as assumptions about power that are based in the old domination paradigm.
It's crucial to learn to distinguish between the 3 kinds of power:
Power-over — the most familiar (unfortunately); domination, control.
Power-within — personal authority, empowerment
Power-with — the new-rising paradigm; sharing power, leadership as service, non-hierarchical or rotating hierarchical management
Brigid's Day is a perfect time to explore these power paradigms, how they play out in your life / spirituality / coven, and what actions you can take to improve the areas that are still playing out in the dominance paradigm.
Poetry, Art, and Inspiration
Brigid is the Muse of poetry, music, and arts. You can dedicate any such artistic endeavour as a Brigid rite.
You can also do magick (or prayer) to be more receptive to Brigid's inspiration, to let creativity blossom in you.
So you can invoke Brigid for any rites with poetry and song ... and whistling! It's said that Brigid invented whistling, so that people could find each other and come together, so it's a great way to invoke Her presence.
(You know the saying, whistling in the dark? You can use whistling as a way to invoke Brigid if you're in a scary situation — Brigantia the victorious, the Warrior Goddess!)
This is a perfect time to call on Brigid for healing, and for skill as a healer if that's what you desire.
Candle spells are also natural Brigid rites, as She is the Goddess of Flame and magick.
You can do the spell-casting version, where you endow the candle with an intention and then burn it to release that magickal power into the world, where it can create change.
Or you could do something simpler, like lighting candles (with fire safety awareness, of course) in the windows, to invite inspiration, wisdom, clarity of purpose, and blessings for your year.
Flame And Well
A great way to honour Brigid is by making a home version of her Holy Well and Sacred Flame. A cauldron would be perfect, if you have a cauldron: place a candle within it... either in a candle holder or stuck upright in sand in the bottom of the cauldron. Otherwise you could use a stock pot, a very large heat-resistant bowl, or something else that's safe to use with fire nearby.
Decorate around the "Well" with Her symbols, such as flowers and seasonal greenery, strips of ribbon or cloth, cups of milk and cakes of fig or oats or corn, coins and metal bangles or ornaments. (See more symbols of the Goddess Brigid.)
As you light the candle, within Sacred Space, invite Brigid to be present with you at this altar, in your life (in whatever capacity you'd like Her), and welcome Her back into the world again!
Other common Brigid rites are scrying, prophecy, dream-work, and any other kind of divination.
Early Spring is a time to clear away the debris of Winter, in order to prepare for planting and growth.
On a symbolic level, this means that we need to clear away the debris in ourselves, our hearts and minds, and one way to do that is with a house-cleaning ritual. If you know Feng Shui, you'll know that our home reflects our inner state, and our inner state is influenced by the state of our home.
See this article for more on this Brigid rite: Imbolc: A Fresh Start.
Embracing the Crone
As the Two-Faced Goddess, Brigid is met wearing the face of the Crone. If She is welcomed and embraced and loved (as in so many fairy-tales, not coincidentally), She transforms at once into a most beautiful maiden.
How can you embrace the Crone?
One way is to celebrate, honour, and learn to love the Dark side of life -
Constriction and limitations
The gifts of pain
The signs of the Crone in your own face and body
Another way is through fertility rites (which are very appropriate to this season), that is, the Great Rite. This one can be done in visualisation: embracing the aged, haggard Crone Goddess with respect and love, and discovering that she transforms to a sweet-faced maiden with the first embrace.
Let Brigid's Inspiration Guide You!
After reading the other articles on Brigid and Imbolc, you are likely to have the seed of some ideas of your own starting to form. Allow the Magickal Muse to guide you to find your own rites to celebrate this most wonderful Goddess.
And have a blessed Spring!
With Bright Blessings,