In the traditions of my Celtic ancestors, tomorrow was considered the first day of spring: St. Brigid’s Day, or Imbolc. A feast of hearth and home, this was also the day when the Goddess Brigid* began bringing the world out of the womb of winter’s dark and into the awakening of the seasons of light, sparking the new growth of tree buds and sprouting plants. Winters in the north Atlantic can be dreary (I happened to have lived in Ireland during the the rainiest it had seen in 60 years! It was dreary indeed) so it seems reasonable that spring would be so anticipated. This year, Imbolc follows a fabulous full moon, calling for prayers of gratitude and relishing in what is lush and already present in abundance. I’ll be spending the day in the quietude of woods, and the evening with community in a healing sound bath and meditation practice.
It has taken several years to start building these holy days into my life’s rhythms, against the grain of mainstream culture--and I am a single person, with a pretty flexible kind of schedule! I am aware of my privilege in this regard, and also of the gift given from being raised in a family that was steeped in heritage and holy days. Consequently, as I’ve grown in my own spiritual path, I have had a heart for the nurturing of the spiritual life of families.
Though we’ve been on hiatus the last 6 months or so, I had been leading monthly spirit circles for families called Circle Round. In lieu of us gathering together in person, I wanted to share a simple outline to observe the shift of this season with your family. This simple ceremony could take just 15-30 minutes, with alter construction time. Don’t stress if you can’t do it on February 1st! Give yourself permission to do it any time this month.
1. Create an Imbolc Altar.
This might include:
- A large bowl in the center for the water offering
- A candle or a ring of candles around the bowl, for fire.
- A bulb or dish of seeds
- Tokens representing your dreams for the coming year
- Photos of loved ones or places in the world in need of healing
- Shells or Images/figurines of water creatures like dolphins or fish
- Have a jar of water, either that you’ve collected from local sources like streams or rainwater—or just use tap-water.
2. Share with your Little Ones:
- The Irish called this Spring’s Beginning
- When you put a seed in the ground, what does it need to grow? Rain and Sun! Water and Fire!
- Brigit is the Goddess/Patroness of Sacred Fire and Healing Water
- In honor of the Sacred Fire of the Goddess, Imbolc is a celebration of creativity
- In honor of the Sacred Water of the Goddess, Imbolc is a celebration of healing
3. Ask your Little Ones:
- What else do we need fire for? (Warmth, making food, etc)
- What do you like to build/make/create? (Songs, legos, drawings, etc)
- What do we need water for? (Drinking, bathing, playing!)
- Is there anyone you know that is sick we can keep in mind today?
4. Fire Blessing: If age appropriate, take turns lighting a candle and sharing something, or about something, you have recently created. Kids might each find a poem to recite, sing a song, or show a painting they have recently made. Or they can simply answer the question: How are you being creative right now?
Then say the following prayer: I (say your name) light the fire of the Goddess Brigit. May she clear away the need for things to look perfect! And ignite within me the joy of creativity.
5. Water Blessing: Take turns pouring water into the center bowl, saying the following prayer:
I, (say your name), bring water to the Blessing Well. May St Brigid bless the waters of the world, for the healing of all of creation! I especially pray to bring healing to (name anyone who is sick or any water animal/species, or place in the world you want to send healing)
When each family member is complete, you can:
- go around the circle again and each collect the blended water in their own containers, while singing Healing Water Sacred Flame. Children can have these as their own blessing water.
- OR one member sprinkles water from the bowl on the family with a branch while all sing the song in response
Imbolc Chant to St Brigit
Brigit come and heal us
Bring the hope of Spring
Listen to the chant here:
May the dawning spring bring lightness, laughter, and new life to you and your little ones~
PS: I'm thinking of bringing back Circle Round! Are you a local Tacoma family? Is this something you would like to see offered again? Please let me know in the comments below, or send me an e-mail!
*Note: Wait. Brigit? Or Brigid? Goddess or Saint? I know I am inconsistent with how I use these terms and spellings. To me they are of the same essence, a weave of the ancient traditions with later Christian influences. There is lots of fascinating scholarly work out there about this! Please explore and let me know what you find!
Source: Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk.