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Imbolc/Candlemas
The Festival of Brighid, time of the hearth fires, the lambing season, first stirrings of spring and of the snowdrop. The children

Berengaria Order of Druids ceremony – Candlemas / Imbolc
By Sarah Rooke, Archdruidess

On an altar let there be a phial of anointing oil, a chalice of water, a salver of salt, burning incense, three lighted candles, a rock or crystal, some flowers, a wand and or athame, a sword or bat’leth (if possible), bread and wine/fruit juice and a container of herbs. Druids in white or pastel, or Druidic/Celtic robes

Opening Ceremony

Celebrant: Before I begin, am I ready to start this ceremony?

Celebrant: I am

Celebrant: (Takes sword or wand in the air, going round in a circle) I conjure thee oh circle of power, that thou may be a meeting place of love, joy and truth, a shield against all wickedness and evil, a container and a condenser of all the power that we shall raise within thee. A rampart and a protection. Until the time when the sky falls above our heads, or the sea rises up and smothers us, or the earth opens her maw and swallows us, in the holy names of the gods and goddesses that we worship, I do consecrate and bless thee

Celebrant: The earth is blessed

Celebrant holding a container of salt water, walks round the circle, sprinkling on floor saying:

Earth and water were you cast, let no adverse purpose past. Be in complete accord with we, as is our will so mote it be

Celebrant holding burning incense, walks around circle, wafting the scent everywhere saying:

Air and fire harken now to our desire, awaken the sleeper deep within, let no evil enter in.  Be in complete accord with we, as is our will so mote it be

Celebrant (at East):  There is peace in the East

Celebrant (at South): There is peace in the South

Celebrant (at West): There is peace in the West

Celebrant (at North): There is peace in the North

Celebrant (standing in centre):  There is peace throughout the entire land

Celebrant: Holds athame/wand up and in a sweeping circle points it down saying:

The Earth our mother lies at our feet, the sky above protects us. This circle is now complete, and the ceremony may now commence

The main ceremony

Celebrant: I stand before the Sacred Grove of Minbar of the Berengaria Order of Druids and to the Guardians, Ancestors, and Spirits of this Place.  I declare my intent, I am grey, I stand between the candle and the star. We are grey, we stand between the darkness and the light

Celebrant: Imbolc or Brigantia, also called Candlemas, is the time of the first ‘Fire Festival’ of the Celtic Year. It signifies the start of the lambing season, the time of the appearance of the snowdrop and the melting of the winter snows, as spring starts to shine through the cold dark days and nights. It is the time of the children, of milk and honey, and is the Festival of Brighid, and is associated with the hearth fires. The ‘Fair Feast’ is linked to the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries in Greece and to the Aztec New Year in South America. It is also the time of rebirth and new beginnings, and it is traditionally a joyful time. The feast is generally associated with the Goddess and Her Priestesses, who are Her Daughters, so it is very much a women’s festival, as they would gather together to celebrate Her Mysteries.

Celebrant: In ancient times, a corn dolly, or the Brighid Oge, or Cross of Brighid, would be made by the women, so it could be offered during the festivities to ensure fertility and good luck for the tribe. In Celtic mythology, Nine Maidens, sacred to Brighid, guarded a giant cauldron near the underworld, which had a rim of nine pearls and a hefty fire was lit underneath. Brighid was the Goddess of the Hearth Fires and Sacred Waters, and She was Daughter of the God Manannan and the Goddess Dana. The Nine Maidens signify the Triple Goddess of Maid, Mother and Enchantress aspected thrice over. The Cauldron is the Grail, the Cup of the Goddess. May the light and waters of Brighid bless all those who seek the gifts of the Goddess. In later Christian times, the character of Brighid was so engraved in the Celtic people that she was made a Saint, St Brighid of Kildare, who was in turn recognised as the foster mother of Christ in the Catholic liturgy. 

Celebrant takes time to meditate and reflect on this mystery, reflecting in ones own life and at this special time of the year. 

Celebrant (Pouring wine into cauldron or container):  Accept Oh Brighid, this wine of the wise as an offering to you. Brighid, patron of poetry, flame of our hearts, voice in our heads, grant us inspiration and the blessing of the Muses, who are the Nine Maidens, who guard your cauldron and its secrets. Share the wine that has matured with experience with all, as we remember that the Grail is life and serves all.

Celebrant (lifting Brighid Oge up at altar): Accept oh Brighid, this Brighid Oge or Cross of Brighid. In South America, these are known as ‘God’s Eyes’ and are believed to avert the Evil Eye. In Celtic times, these would have been made from the last harvest. Share your good nature with us to ensure fertility and good luck for our families, friends, animals and plants for the year ahead. 

Celebrant: Harken to these words from Caitlin Matthews. Blessing for the hearth keepers, Brighid of the mantle, encompass us. Lady of the lambs, protect us. Keeper of the hearth, kindle us. Beneath your mantle, gather us. And restore us to memory. Mother of the mothers, foremother strong, guide your hands in yours. Remind us how to kindle the hearth.

Celebrant (offering incense): To keep it bright, to preserve the flame. Our hands within yours. To kindle the light, both day and night. The mantle of Brighid about us, the memory of Brighid within us. The protection of Brighid keeping us from harm, from ignorance, and from heartlessness. This day, this night. From dawn till dusk, from dark until dawn. 

Celebrant: In our minds eye we see the Triple Goddess. The maid Niwalen with a crown of spring flowers, the mother Brighid with a golden crown of stars, and the Enchantress Cerridwen, with a veil of hidden knowledge. (Celebrant visualises the three Goddesses before them). As it is on Earth below, so it is in Heaven above. The Goddess is shown in Her three fold aspects around the Cauldron as three, but is seen as One. 

Celebrant: Always remember that the land and people are one. So take care of the Earth and all Her creatures, plants and people living here, as they are all under her care. For without winter there would be no new spring, and without spring, no new summer. And without summer, no new autumn. And without autumn, no new winter. So it follows on that life is a process, not a state. Nothing is static, but subject to change in the universal scheme of things. 

Celebrant (Passes by candle flame): As we pass by this candle flame, we visualise that all negativity and past recriminations that are holding us back, are burnt and let go in love and light. (Celebrant may also write these on a piece of paper and burn them in the flame. Take care here!)

Celebrant: May the Goddesses and Gods bestow their gifts of joy and love to all in peace and harmony.

A path working or meditation in the celebrants chosen path may follow. Celebrant may seek to commune with the Gods and Goddesses of their tradition.

Celebrant: I give thanks to the Guardians, Ancestors and Spirits of the Place for the Inspiration, Originality, and Imagination that has been bestowed on me today.

Celebrant holds out platter of bread, with wand/athame makes pentagram to bless it

I hereby bless this in the name of the Gods and Goddesses

Celebrant holds out chalice of wine, with wand/athame makes pentagram to bless it

I hereby bless this in the name of the Gods and Goddesses.

After partaking of bread and wine, celebrant intones druidic chant of Awen three times: 

Awen, Awen, Awen

Celebrant: I shall now recite the Druids Prayer, Grant oh God/Goddess, thy protection, and in protection, strength. And in strength, understanding, and in understanding, knowledge. And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice, and in the knowledge of justice, the love of it. And in the love of it, the love of all existences. And in the love of all existences, the love of god and goddess and all goodness

Celebrant: I shall now say the Druids Oath, We swear, by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand, mark oh spirit and hear us now, confirming this our sacred vow.

Celebrant may like to offer their own poems, dancing or songs here, and also any special prayers or thoughts at this time as they feel appropriate

Closing Ceremony

Celebrant: As is tradition, I raise my hands in the air, sending out thoughts of peace and harmony to all things and beings, and any projects I have in mind

Celebrant:  My ceremony completed, I close this circle so I may return to everyday life. But first i thank the Guardians, Ancestors and Spirits of the Place.

Turns to East: There is peace in the East

Turns to South: There is peace in the South

Turns to West: There is peace in the West

Turns to North: There is peace in the North

Standing in centre: There is peace throughout the entire land

Celebrant: In the Name of the Gods and Goddesses that I worship, I send blessings out to the cosmos and the soma of our Universe, and all lifeforms, things and beings, remembering that the truth is out there! We also give thanks to the Gods and Goddesses for the love, beauty and truth that surrounds us now and forever. May we go forth with the Divine Blessing. Live Long and Prosper. May the Force Be With Us! Happy Candlemas!

Celebrant: Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again

 

Note: This a solo use ceremony that can be performed alone by oneself or with others

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