On Saturday the Setantii Grove held our Imbolc Ceremony in Heaton Park. The day started off bright and clear but it was bitterly cold, so we were doubly appreciative of Badger’s wonderful fire bowl which was kept well topped up with wood throughout the ritual!
Imbolc is a celebration of the first stirrings of Spring and is a ritual dedicated to the Goddess Bride. There was an opportunity for us to share poems, prose or our thoughts on the season during the ritual and it was no surprise that these focussed on the Goddess herself, and one of her symbols – lambs! Badger, our Setantii Bard had memorised a poem by Philip Larkin (incidentally, he was still librarian at Hull University when I was a student there, one of the 2nd years asked him for his autograph and he refused saying she was a ‘very greedy girl’ 🙂 )
Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasurable surprise.
Guy read a poem dedicated to Brigantia –she is the tutelary deity of the Brigantes tribe which lived across Northern England and the Scottish Borders, she is a water deity, often depicted in warrior form and is one aspect of the Goddess Bride/Bridget/Brigit.
Hail, Brigantia! Keeper of the forge,
she who shapes the world itself with fire,
she who ignites the spark of passion in the poets,
she who leads the clans with a warrior’s cry,
she who is the bride of the islands,
and who leads the fight of freedom.
Hail, Brigantia! Defender of kin and hearth,
she who inspires the bards to sing,
she who drives the smith to raise his hammer,
she who is a fire sweeping across the land.
I decided to say the Blessing of Brigit, which is something that I use regularly in my practice:
The Blessing of Brigit
I am under the shielding
Of good Brighid each day;
I am under the shielding
Of good Brighid each night.
I am under the keeping
Of the keeper of the flame,
Each early and late,
Every dark, every light.
Brighid is my comrade-woman,
Brighid is my maker of song,
Brighid is my helping woman,
My choicest of woman, my guide.
It was lovely to meet new folks at the ritual, especially when they arrive with delicious food – Lindsay had made some oat cakes which we shared during the ritual! Unfortunately it was a bit too cold to stand and talk for too long afterwards, especially when the fire was quenched and we’re looking forward to the return of the picnic, hopefully at Alban Eiler.
Craig and Badger had both brought provisions for the squirrels and birds – we seem to leave more and more each ritual. Funnily enough there wasn’t a squirrel in sight in the Grove, although there were plenty trying to mug you on the walk through the park. However we did spot something lurking in the undergrowth….
It was a rat! Actually there were two of them and they were quite cute. A lot shyer than the squirrels, you could see them psyching themselves up to leave the bushes and make a dash for the food.