On a cold and snowy day Hollow Hills Grove met to celebrate the festival of Imbolc, the feast day of the goddess Brighid.
This time of year is the time the sheep are giving birth and things are starting to stir within the earth. Ewes are lactating and this means that cheese and butter can be made and even though there are several weeks of winter left to survive, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This is a time of increase.
Brighid is a Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft and she is associated with holy wells and sacred flames. She is also a goddess of childbirth. In Ireland there are many holy wells dedicated to her and her fire centre is located in Kildare Ireland where a flame is kept lit and is tended for her.
Her association with candles, warmth and fires reminds us that spring is on its way and the sun will gently warm the earth soon.
We have the ritual indoors at the hearth to honour Brighid.
Hollow Hills Grove celebrates Brighid with offerings of butter, cream, whiskey and Guiness, which are traditional offerings. Also handmade items, stories and songs are also appropriate offerings to this goddess of creativity.
One of the traditions that Hollow Hills grove follows is the ritual of the Brighid’s Mantle (or Brighid’s Cloak or Brat Bhride ). We believe that if you hang the mantle outside over the night on Imbolc Eve, Brighid will come and bless the mantle with healing and protective powers for the coming year. We use a white cotton cloth and tear strips from it to give to Grove attendees and friends to use for their healing needs. We burn the old strips of cloth from the previous year.
As you can see, we didn’t expect to have a snowy Brighid’s Mantle this year, but we had two inches of snow overnight.
The omen for this ritual from the Wildwood Tarot was particularly good:
From the Nature Spirits we drew the card HARE
The meaning of this card is a beginning of a new cycle as indicated by the egg and hare depicted on the card. It also means an early start (we had an early start to spring that quickly ended with the snow!) and new beginnings. It also represents new growth.
From the Ancestors we drew the card WOODPECKER
The meaning of this card is a mystery heard but not seen and things hidden which we will discover. This omen is indicated by the green woodpecker depicted on the card. The green woodpecker seems more rare than it is because of its ability to hide in the trees.
From the Deities the card we drew was STOAT
This card represents renewal of an alert determination and realignment with the sacred will of the land. It also means secrecy and magical sensitivity and playfulness.The stoat has an ability to slip out of situations. This bright yellow and sunny card really seemed to represent the spirit of Imbolc.
All the attendees agreed that this ritual felt like a new and fresh beginning and the shedding of an unsatisfying recent past.
After the ritual we feasted and sat in front of the warm fireplace thanking the Kindred for our blessings.