The Temple of Nine Wells - ATC

The Feast of Brighid

Observances and Observations

by
Erinna Northwind
The Yule ends with the Eve of Oimelc. Heed the poet Herrick: toss out your Yuletide greens, they've absorbed all the reek and malign humors they're going to. Soon they'll start releasing them back into the air. So out with them, every leaf and berry with your general housecleaning. Let them be mulch or compost, and the Earth balance and embrace them. Do you see Yule trees end their glory on the curbside? Yours deserves better! Burn its remains, or leave them in a wild place. Then bring in fresh boughs to see out the Winter.

The coming season is one of ingathering. Earth gathers Her forces to burst forth in the Spring, and Her people prepare for A fresh start. What projects will engage your efforts in the year to come? In what new directions will you press? Now comes the time to get our ducks in a row. We reassess and refine our resolutions.

We will turn the pages of nursery catalogs, mapping gardens, penciling in new herbs and shrubs of virtue to plant on our plots of ground. We will stretch our sluggish bodies and set them in motion,,anticipating days outdoors. Pounds put on over the Yuletide will come off, we are determined!! Lady Day should see us leaner and speedier.

But Oimele is more than a boundary-stone between seasons. Pause and listen.

Life stirs in the Earth. You help. The maiden Fire-Goddess Brighid embodies this awakening. Her deep fires rise and warm the roots of trees, Her crown a ring of light. Wear a candle-crown in Her honor. Remember: ancient dancers stamped and pounded on the ground. Bearing torches they formed blazing wheels that revolved and uncoiled and snaked across the fields, blessing them with holy fire. You quench every light and kindle new fire in Her name. From this you light every lamp and know all Nature greets the growing light.

Her maidenhood notwithstanding, Brighid cares for lovers. She rules marriage, childbirth and the family, the hearth Her shrine in every home. Girls, say the grannies, seek Her help to find a bonny mate. Read omens in the ashes. You have no proper fireplace? Make do! Besides poetry and healing, She rules inspiration and smithcraft. Young men, show your sweetheart your devotion, lest a better make off with her heart.

Ewes are Her sacred beasts. In their byres lambing begins. The milk flows. Oi-melc: "ewe's-milk." Pour a libation of milk, or a milky posset made with (Irish?) whiskey.

Gather at midnight with torches and a bucket of hot spiced ale, if you know an orchard that wants wassailing. Go to the eldest tree. Blow horns, bang on pots, make a din. Wake the tree spirits! Sing them the carol exhorting the trees "to blow well and to bear well." Drink a health to the trees. Soak a crust and wedge it in the crotch of a branch. Walk the aisles, singing and slinging a ladleful of wassail on every tree.

No leaf opens. Earth seems to sleep in deep silence; yet life stirs. You help. You are The Wise.


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