Sinnissippi Tuath Grove Public Imbolc 2016 Celebration and Community Healing Rite
Saturday February 6, 2016
5:00PM to 10:00PM
Margaret Fuller Room
Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford
4848 Turner St.
Pre-ritual information for attendees
On February 6 we will be having our Imbolc Celebration and Community Healing Rite at the Unitarian Church in Rockford, IL. Check the event on our Facebook page, and in our Events section for more specifics. The Imbolc celebration is one of the 4 Gaelic Celtic Fire Festivals.
Imbolc, also known as Oimelc, is the time for the folk to begin to prepare the herds to be moved out of winter habitat. The ewes are giving birth near this time and coming into their milk. The days are noticeably longer, and while it is still cold, the light and the temperatures carry the kiss of the spring with them. At this time watch the skies, and look for the signs of the spring in the Earth – the coming of thunderstorms, after which Sun symbols can be put up, and the poking through of the crocus, herald of the springtime. In Scotland, the Bride washes the brown wool trying to make it white, and the Cailleach still rules with Her hammer of frost.
Many households will make a Bride’s Bed, a small basket fitted with linens and decorations, in which will be placed the Bride, a dolly made from the last of the seed heads of the crops from the harvest. Another tradition is the Mantle, which is a white cloth decorated with gold, that is taken out on Imbolc and wrapped around an evergreen tree or bush, as an offering to Brigit. Also traditional are clooties, small strips of white cloth with prayers written on them that are tied on trees near holy wells, asking for Brigit’s help or blessing.
Our Tuath has a tradition that we started years ago, the Community Healing Rite. It takes place during our Imbolc ritual, and involves invoking Brigit into our midst, and having 3 Priestesses embody Brigit in her triple form, and wash the heads and hands of persons desiring healing with waters from a Sacred Healing Well. This tradition has been well received, and we feel it is an important service we can offer the community. This will be the 5th year we have done this.
Our Deities of the Occasion are Brigit, and An Daghda. Brigit is a beloved goddess, a pan-Celtic goddess, who is represented in Irish myth as a triple figure as Goddess of the Hearth Fire, Goddess of the Smith Fire, and Goddess of the Fire of Inspiration. She is also a Goddess of Healing Wells, and is a protector of herds and children. There are many symbols linked to her, chief of which is the Brigit’s Cross, a woven, 3 armed triskele or 4 armed cross made from reeds. It is said that St. Briget (the Christianized version of the Goddess) wove the cross of reeds while trying to calm a dying Pagan lord. He became interested in what she was doing, and asked her about the cross. St. Briget told him the story of Christ, the Crucifiction, and the Ressurrection, and the dying lord asked to be baptised Christian. In any event, the Brigit’s Cross is likely older than the coming of Christianity to Ireland.
Another symbol linked to Brigit is the Brigit’s Mantle, a white cloak or cloth that is placed on trees outside the dwelling on the night of Imbolc (remember the Celts reckoned their days as starting at sundown, so if Imbolc is on the 2nd of February, the day started at sundown of the 1st) to attract the blessings of the Goddess. Another tradition (which we observe as part of our rite) is the making of clooties. These are small white strips of cloth, which are traditionally hung on trees outdoors, with a prayer chanted while tying them on. Alternatively, a prayer can be written on the clooties before tying them to the trees. As the wind blows and flaps the clooties, the prayers are picked up by the wind and carried to the Gods. We will have strips of cloth available for people to make their own clooties, to tie on trees at home.
An Daghda is Brigit’s father, and a powerful chieftain in the Tuatha de Danaan. He is called the Good God, also Ruadh Rofhessa, the Red Man of All Knowledge, and Eochaid Ollthair, Horse-borne All Father, and Fer Benn, Horned One. An Daghda is the Druid of the Gods, a powerful ally in the Arts of Druidry, as well as a powerful warrior and God of Plenty and Prosperity. He carries a cauldron called Undry, from which none go away hungry. He also carries a harp called Uaithne, or Four Corner Music, which has 4 songs, a song of sleep, a song of battle-fury, and a song of healing. The fourth song is the one that An Daghda plays to turn the seasons. He also bears a war-club, Lorg an Daghda, which kills with one end, and restores life with the other. He is a God of great appetites and mirth, consort to the Morrigan and Boann (by whom Oengus Mac Og was born).
For us in this season, An Daghda is the great protector and father of the tribe, and we call on His gifts of plenty and rebirth in this dawning year. We plant the life-giving end of the Lorg an Daghda in the soil to awaken the Earth and ensure fertility for the coming year, and we feast to honor his gifts of plenty through his Cauldron.
For more information please feel free to contact Oengus Sea-Eagle at firstname.lastname@example.org