We have arrived at one of my favorite times of the turning year: Brigidtide, also known as Imbolc among those who honor the old ways. It has come down to us here in the States as Groundhog Day, a true weather auguring holiday, but is also part of the Christian church calendar as Candlemas or Candelaria. I love it because of the presence of my alchemical yet steady, deeply protective goddess, Brigid. She may be called St. Brigid in Ireland, where just last year they elevated her status with a national bank holiday, but her roots are much older than the church. She is part of the land there, and beloved by all.
I place my quill and ink pot on my hearth altar, hang the Brigid’s cross made from wheat stalks some years ago, bring water in a vase for the flowering quince which in California signals this earliest springtime, and light a consecrated candle, for Brigid is a fire goddess. These symbols enlarge, at her festival time, my daily devotion to Brigid.
Every morning, I light my hearth candle with these words.
The light of Brigid shine about me
on my going out and coming in
from dawn to dusk
and all the dark hours
I pray with my arms and my breath, lifting, encircling, opening, up, down, around. At the end, I cover my eyes, as I learned from my Jewish friend as she lights the shabbat candles at dusk. When I have time or need, I say the whole invocation, inviting the aid of the four directions, the four elements, and spirit within and all round. There is a version of this prayer here. I often forget parts, or say them out of order. Sometimes I cry or laugh, venture a petition, or am interrupted by my other householders. As the poet said, forget your perfect offering. Just showing up is the thing.
This is how I bring focus to my day, for the word focus comes from the Latin for hearth fire. Touching in with this prayer every day at my hearth grounds me in my place and centers me in my mind and heart. The overwhelm of modern life is ongoing, the news terrible, the flood of information and images unrelenting. I need every kind of grounding and serenity I can find.
Then I sit with an open notebook on my lap and focus on my words for a while. But soon the cats are at me, or the body with its cravings for tea and oatmeal. My children are grown, but life is life and needs must be met.
This post is part of a newsletter I am sending out on Substack where I have begun a new presence. I am adding it here because I have been posting in this space for so many years about Brigid that I just can’t not have this year’s post included here for my archive.
A blessed Brigid’s Day to you all. May you be well and may the muse of creativity in her myriad forms visit you at your hearth too.