Kindling the Fire at Home & in the Community

Pagan Community

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M is for Misconceptions about Pagans

There are many misconceptions, assumptions and misunderstandings about Pagans, Wiccans and Heathens. Some are rooted in age old myth and others are rooted in ignorance and fear. Whatever the case may be, there are several things that I would like to address. Here are some of the questions we are often asked:

witches-devils“So, don’t Pagans (Wiccans, witches, etc) worship the devil?”

No actually, we don’t. The “devil” is a Christian construct and not something/someone that Pagans, Wiccans or witches believe exists, much less worships. The Pagan Gods and Goddesses are in no way related to the devil or Satan although many depictions of the devil and/or Satan closely resemble the God Pan, who is guardian of the forest, the wild parts of nature and known for playing a wooden flute.

“Aren’t you afraid of going to Hell?”

Again, no. Like the “devil” is a Christian construct so is “Hell”. I personally am not concerned about damnation or Hell and neither are any of the other Pagans I know because it’s not a place that exists in our beliefs. I do believe in an Underworld, but it’s not somewhere that fire and brimstone, gnashing of teeth or torture and torment exists. It’s simply the land of the dead. A place that isn’t feared by most Pagans because we see death simply as part of the cycle of life, not something to be feared.

“Isn’t Paganism like a cult?”

No, it’s not. Not any more than any other religion, anyhow. Paganism is an umbrella term that includes many different recognized religious groups including Wicca, Santeria, Voodoo, Asatru, Druidism and many other earth-based and re-constructionist focused belief systems. The definition can seem a bit vague though. If you look it up in Merriam-Webster it defines a cult as:  1.”a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted cultreligion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous”. 2.”a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much”. and 3.”a small group of very devoted supporters or fans”. Many Christians may argue that many of the rituals, practices and beliefs shared by Pagans seem “extreme and dangerous” to them, but that doesn’t make it true. There are rituals in every religion, some are unique to that faith and others are shared. For instance, lighting of candles and incense… Christians and Pagans share this ritual. Chants and spoken prayers… Buddhists, Christians and Pagans all share this ritual. Sacrament/Cakes and Ale/ Eucharist/Communion… shared ritual that Christians and Pagans both share.

I believe that the more common understanding of a cult is where a small group of people become isolated from the general public and are brainwashed into believing a certain set of extreme or fringe beliefs perpetuated by a single charismatic leader who uses his/her influence to control, manipulate and monitor their followers every move with fear/intimidation, guilt, seizing their money, relationships and time. Often times the leader claims to either be God or have a direct line to God where they insinuate their instructions, beliefs and requirements are inspired by God and failure to comply will result in damnation.

This is not something that Pagan groups do. Most operate transparently and although some covens or circles are secretive and limit those involved, they do not try to consume someones entire life or impose restrictions on who they can interact with, how they spend their money or where they can go.

“Do Pagans perform human or animal sacrifices?”

The short answer is no. I don’t know of any Pagans who believe in human sacrifices or of any tradition that promotes or condones human sacrifice. In ancient times, many cultures are believed to have participated in human sacrifice. This sacrifice of life was considered to be the ultimate offering to appease the Gods. The most well known culture to engage in human sacrifice are the Mayans. However, human sacrifice is not a practice that is accepted among civilized cultures in 2016. With the establishment of law and order, human sacrifice would be considered murder. So no, Pagans don’t sacrifice humans.

What about animals? Well, not as a universal belief or practice. However, there are many Pagans that are involved in animal husbandry and farming. Some of those Pagans may consider the slaughtering of their animals as a ritual sacrifice and offer some of the meat rendered as a gift to the Gods. As a universal practice though? No. Most Pagans do not practice animal sacrifice.

“Why don’t Pagans believe in God?”

Well, we do actually, just not in the Abrahamic God worshiped by Christians, Jews and Muslims. In fact, most Pagans are polytheistic, meaning that we believe in the existence of many Gods, but typically honor the Gods of our individual traditions. Others who identify as eclectic, like me, honor the Gods of many traditions depending on which Gods we are working with at the time.

“Do you guys have orgies in your rituals?”

Nope. While many Pagans do prefer to participate in ritual skyclad (naked), ritual orgies aren’t typically something that happens at public or private rituals. However, there is a sacred ritual called The Great Rite that is observed both symbolically (through the use of an athame and chalice) great-riteand literally (through the joining of two individuals in sexual union) by some Pagans. It’s not observed by everyone and those who do observe it generally do not consider it casual sex or an orgy, as it’s carried out with either their spouse/mate or close coven/circle mates, not usually strangers and is considered sacred in nature. This particular ritual is often carried out around Beltane, during the Spring Equinox, as a fertility ritual in honor of the God and Goddess and their sacred union.

“Do Pagans, Wiccans and/or witches cast spells or hex people?”

Yes. Many Pagans, Wiccans and witches use spell casting the same as others use prayer. Magic is considered part of the natural world. Many Pagans, Wiccans and witches believe that they are able to tap into the energy around them and through spellcasting, using their will and intent bring something they desire to fruition. Spellwork is often part of ritual and devotionals used for healing, prosperity, protection, clarity, fertility, luck and other intent. Spellcrafting can be charged and cast alone or as a group. hex-symbol

As for hexing, Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede and the Rule of Three which essentially says “An ye harm none, do as ye will.” and “Whatever you put out will come back to you threefold.” So Wiccans do not hex. As for other witches and Pagans, I believe that there are some who do. Many will say “A witch who cannot hex, cannot heal.” and I believe in that adage. The way that I personally use hex spells and symbols is to ward off negative energy, not send it to someone else.  Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I’ve found that using the hex symbols used by the Pennsylvania Dutch work well for my purposes. I suppose whether one chooses to use magic with the intent to hex or harm is up to the individual. So to answer the question, yes, some do hex. Those who do, understand the risk of using this kind of magic and generally do so very judiciously.

“What kind of people believe in witchcraft and the occult? Should we be afraid of them?”

we-are-everywhereAll kinds of people from all walks of life. We’re every day normal people, with normal jobs and families who happen to believe in something outside of the mainstream religious ideologies of Christianity, Judaism or Islam. We are teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, clerks, writers, police officers, accountants, nurses and in all other fields of work. We’re parents and grandparents. We’re sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. We’re business owners. We’re land owners. We’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. We’re Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American, Native American, Pacific Islanders and every other race, color and creed. We’re your neighbors. We’re your friends. We’re people you see and speak to on a daily basis. Some are quite overt about their beliefs and some are discreet. Not all remain hidden or afraid anymore. We aren’t looking to recruit your children or convert you. We just want to live, work, raise our families and practice our constitutionally protected right to believe in the God or Gods of our choosing. You shouldn’t be afraid of us, but you should be mindful of us. We’re everyday people and we’re everywhere.

Blessings,

Bridey-signature

 


Through the Veil

Beloved Dead Skull

“The Goddess is Maiden and Mother and Crone; Her children surround Her; She is never alone.

She lives in the moment, knows no grief or uproar, ‘til Harvest rolls ‘round and brings death to Her door.

Then Her bright colors fade and Her glitter grows dim, For Her son lives no longer; She’s mourning for Him.

He’s fallen upon Her body of Earth- Oh, how can it be deadly, which once gave Him birth?

She buries Him gently, and follows Him down, And She casts off in grief all Her robes, jewels and crown.

There is no need of finery where now She sets foot, Down in the darkness of loam and of root.

Her heart is bound tightly, no peace stills Her mind.

She is cold and bereft; She is angry and blind.

She stumbles and staggers; ever weaker She grows, But then hears a voice She is certain She knows!

“My Mother, My Lady, why have you come here?” ‘Tis the voice of Her lover, Her Son, in Her ear.

“Why have you left me?” She cries out in grief. “Why must I bear you to be my joy’s thief?”

He has come here before but She does not recall, And He touches Her hand, to explain again, all:

“It’s age and fate, Lady. There’s naught I can do, Save promise by rebirth I shall rejoin you. You are ever my Lady, my Mother, my Dear, And I swear that in death there is nothing to fear.”

Now She remembers: the grave’s but a womb And a promise of rebirth brings light to the gloom.

There’s peace and reunion to follow each death, As a moment of stillness will follow each breath.

And the Goddess emerges each time She withdraws, And the Wheel turns to freedom, and rolls without pause.”

Ancestor Altar 2This past weekend we gathered to celebrate Samhain and to honor those who have gone before us in a quiet & reflective way. We initially intended to do so outside, but with the fickle SE Texas weather were relegated to the indoor sanctuary once we realized the wind and rain wasn’t going to let up anytime soon. It was as it should be. The atmosphere was  serene, peaceful and calming.

I went into this ritual with an open mind willing to honor whoever came to me. I thought that I knew who would be most prominent in my mind, but it turns out who I expected isn’t who weighed heaviest on my heart. It was my Grandpa Turkey (Dad’s dad) and I wasn’t expecting him to move me to tears, but grief has a funny way of revealing itself  long after you think you are past it. Maybe having him suddenly taken from my life is what made his return rush over me like it did. Whatever the case, I was happy to revisit memories of him and think about him after so long. I spent many summers and holidays visiting him growing up so once we sat down to try our hand at divination I sat with Rowan’s prayer beads in my lap and let my mind wander through the many thoughts of my childhood spent at his home. Playing billiards. Swimming in the pool and having him chase my cousins and I with the water hose. BBQ’s on the back patio. Early morning wake ups with him reading the paper and handing me the funnies to read. Butter pecan ice cream. Many hours of Legend of Zelda together. Cocktail hour where I’d get my virgin drink with extra cherries. My mind had no shortage of cherished memories.

This was the first time I attempted meditation with prayer beads. At first I was a bit clueless as to how to begin or what to do to use them. This is probably something that a former Catholic would be fantastic at because of experience with rosaries, but I had none of that. So I asked Rowan what she had in mind when she made them. She quickly showed me that they were Maiden-Mother-Crone prayer beads and counted them out with me once to show me how she used them. That’s all it took and I was off.

Counting… 1… 2… 3… fingers sliding over the beads one by one with subtle pauses to reflect, breath and allow the memories and any message to come to me. I gave each message some space and time to really sink in before moving on. Once I was satisfied with the messages I received and was sure it was time to move on  I decided to attempt to use the prayer beads as a pendulum and they worked beautifully. I was a bit surprised at how quickly the responses came to my questions, but thankful. By the time I was set the prayer beads in Rowan’s lap I was feeling quite pleased that I had accidentally forgotten my intended divination tools for ritual. Turns out that the divination tools I needed that night weren’t my own.

My last divination was with a 3 card tarot spread. Samhain Tarot Reading 2013 It told me that my hearts desire was fully acknowledged and would come to fruition when the time was right. Ugh… you mean I have to wait?!? Patience is something I have been working hard at getting better at. Sometimes I can be extremely impatient and get very grouchy when what I want and what I get don’t match. It’s a struggle at times to know that something good is on it’s way, but not know when it’ll arrive. This is also why I am terrible at surprises. I don’t dislike surprises, but I dislike knowing one is on it’s way. So if you plan on surprising me with something don’t tell me “I have a surprise for you!” That’ll drive me crazy! Hopefully the subject matter I was inquiring about prior to this card spread will manifest sooner rather than later… I’m ready universe!

Samhain seems to always bring out emotions in those who could otherwise usually conceal them. If you thought being moved by a spiritual entity was something you’d take in stride, you soon realize you were mistaken. Even though I know what to expect now after so many years of celebrating Samhain in ritual, the profound truth of sharing space with someone who has crossed the veil always brings out emotions in me. It’s a jolt to your system, not only to sense a presence, but to literally feel it. I am never really prepared, no matter how much I think I will be. Reaching through the veil to greet loved ones is taxing both physically and emotionally. This is why I can only handle ancestor work at this level very infrequently. While it is greatly rewarding, it is equally draining. Still, it’s hard to say goodbye when the time comes.

As we crossed back through the veil with a candle to light our way into the dark half of the year we closed the portal behind us. Once we had all reached the other side we watched as each candle was snuffed out one after another… it was as if someone had gone down the line and  blown them out with heaving breath. It was startling, but not scary and we all looked at each other with dazed expressions having shared the experience together. There in the dark we shared soul cakes, listened to the Lyke-Wake Dirge and honored our loved ones and each other with great big hugs and heavy hearts. No matter the time that has passed since the loss of a loved one, when grief is released into the universe in shared ritual space, we all feel it… we all share it… we all carry it a little while. It’s that short distance of carrying the grief for someone else, that gives us each the space to breathe and let go.

May your burden of grief be light through the dark half of the year.

Blessings,

Bridey-signature


Opportunity Knocks

Recently Rowan & I have been talking a lot about leadership and what our roles entail. We’ve also been discussing how we’d like to expand on our knowledge as leaders and grow our circle. There are a lot of ideas being tossed around. We’re both ordained and considering what that could mean for our circle and our lives personally. While we hold the title, both of us want formal training and some guidance from other people in leadership roles. It’s one thing to call yourself a High Priestess and another to actually fill that role appropriately. I feel that we both live up to the standards of what I believe a High Priestess should be, however, it doesn’t hurt either of us to ensure that we learn how to better serve our community.

The other day we started talking about formal Pagan clergy programs. Most of them are geared entirely towards Wicca, require that you are there in person or require such far-fetched time periods (2-4 years) that neither of us were sure we were going to find something we could both feel comfortable paying money for & committing to. It was about the time I thought screw it, that Rowan was thinking up ways to create our own training program… And then I remembered Covenant of the Goddess.

Prior to moving overseas I had considered joining CoG and went so far as to ask for letters of recommendation from my circle mates who were already members. They had provided me with them… and then life happened (divorce, move back to the states, being without my belongings for months) and I completely lost sight of that goal entirely.

A few days ago I asked a former circle mate who had previously vouched for me, Lady Justice, if she’d do it again and she said she’d happily write me as many letters as I needed. (Goddess blessed me with amazing friends!) She also mentioned that Merry Meet (annual CoG shindig) was going to happen this year in Albuquerque, NM. That just happens to be where my friend, Lady Justice, and her adorable family all live. Not only did she mention that Merry Meet was happening in her town, but extended an invitation to Rowan & I to stay with her, eat her food & get carted to and from Merry Meet via her chariot if we got our booties to Albuquerque for August 16-19th. Yikes! That’s only a little over a months time to save up. After figuring our travel expenses, overnight lodging in a hotel 1 night on the way there and 1 night on the way back, food/snacks on the road, general entrance fees for Friday/Saturday & the leadership conference… we estimated about $500 each. Gas alone is going to be about $400 because we’re driving 1,900 miles roundtrip.

Never fear… Bridey has a plan, because while I think we’re quite capable of saving $500 each, I’m not sure we can both do it in 6 weeks time. Well, not on our own.

SO, this is where you come in. If you think you’d like to help us make our way to Merry Meet for a much needed leadership getaway, then click on the little link provided below & contribute to our cause! Not only will you be helping our circle here in Beaumont, Texas thrive, but you’ll also be supporting the greater Pagan community when we become recognized clergy too!

Contribute to the Merry Meet Fund!

Thanks in advance & Blessings,


Summer Solstice

Last year for Summer Solstice I made my way to Hillsboro, Texas to participate in a Summer Solstice festival being held on the property where Middlefaire Renaissance Faire is held. Initially it was going to be a girls retreat, but many of the women invited weren’t able to come… it ended up being a mother & daughter retreat for mom & I. That’s how I sort of think that it was supposed to be. We needed the time away to reconnect and let loose a little together. Believe me, we did! It was hot as Hades out, but we managed to have a good time and tried to keep cool. It was our 1st Pagan festival in Texas & we were determined to make it memorable!

Much of our time was spent chatting with merchants & patrons there. I quickly befriended a musical group called Dublin Doubles comprised of Teresa, Trey & Lala. For 2 days they were our surrogate family of sorts. They were very welcoming and friendly so it was easy to hang with them and get the lay of the land… plus I really enjoy their music and it gave me lots of time to listen to them play. Next to them were the lovely couple Denise & Mel, who felt like kindred spirits to me the moment they opened their mouths to speak. Something about them just felt very familiar and comforting. Mom & I both bought some fantastic loose incense & burners from the business they run called Practically Magick. When we weren’t buying stuff and mingling with the people… we were off by the stage finding our spiritual groove…. in drum circle with a really cool guy named El Lobo. This was obviously not his first rodeo because El Lobo brought a bunch of drums and noise makers for everyone to play with. We spent hours both days we were there getting lost in the rhythm of the drum beats… it was a lot of fun and very relaxing.

This Summer Solstice when Akasha & Indigo started talking about what we needed to bring with us for ritual, I was excited to find out that we’d be drumming. On our Litha craft day I made a little hand-held drum to bring with me for ritual since Jay was going to be playing my doumbek. I’m not sure how long we drummed, but it was a fantastically freeing sensation. I felt very tranquil drumming and swaying to the beat. Prior to that we were encouraged to dance with abandon, Akasha described it as “mad monkey dancing”… so we did. Danced, spinned & jumped the fire. It was a lot of fun. Probably the most free I’ve felt dancing in circle in a long time.

The tone of the ritual felt very playful & fun… like the sort of ritual a faery would want to attend. What with the flowers, fire, drums, poetry & dancing… who could resist?

Here’s the poem I wrote:

Blazing heat
Fairies dance
‘Round the wise oak
Spin & prance
Rhythmic beat of the drum
Twirl and whirl to the hum
Sacred earth
Summer’s warmed air
Flicker of fire
Cleansing water mists their hair
Energy grows with desire
Solstice sun high in the sky
Joy & merriment as they fly
Longest day has arrived
Blessed Litha they all cry!

We also went on a guided meditation to visit “Ancient Ones” who told us about whatever it was we were seeking. We were told to envision ourselves riding a white mare and when we came upon the opening in the rocks we spoke to the Ancient Ones who talked to us about perception. From our end it appeared to be an opening only large enough to peer through, but on their end it was an opening large enough for us to ride through on the mare. That meditation sat with me even after ritual was concluded, the concept of perception and the need to reevaluate how you look at things. I thought it was a really insightful meditation.

It has helped me focus some attention on some of the things I perceive in my life as “not right”… I have too little time, too little money, too many responsibilities, too many chores, etc. You know, when it comes right down to it, none of that is correct at all. Sure, I wish I had more time to do the things I enjoy, but with good time management I can do most of what I want with my leisure time. I wish I made more money, but who doesn’t? With good budgeting I can afford the things I truly need and even a few of the things I want. Responsibility is something I should welcome & appreciate because that means that I am trusted and counted on, things that only come to someone who is tried & true. I’d much rather spend my time visiting with friends, writing, crafting, reading… really anything other than doing chores, but they’re one of those evil necessities in life. What a drag to have to do laundry, dishes & vacuum the livingroom, but I’d much rather do that than live in a dirty, unkempt home. Perception is important. It helps you to look at the very same thing from a different vantage point to gain a broader view.

That’s what Summer Solstice was for me. Drumming until my hands hurt. Dancing with abandon like a “mad monkey”. Writing poetry. Leaping the fire. And reevaluating my perception. So, what was your Summer Solstice?

Blessings,


Celebrating Our First Year Together

Earlier this month we celebrated a full year together as a circle. Since we started cooking up ideas in May of 2011, it seemed reasonable to have a get-together the beginning of June. Rowan and I weren’t real sure what to do to celebrate, but we knew we wanted to spend some quality time together just socializing and bonding with the members of our circle. Truth be told, this anniversary/birthday sorta snuck up on us. So all of the ideas we had brewing had to take a backburner to reality. What could we realistically put together that would be meaningful and fun with little time to plan? Not to mention that was affordable? We wound up deciding to have a group dinner & then head over to a local “paint-it-yourself” pottery place. It turned out to be a great time.

We all chose a piece of pottery, our paints & quickly got to work. Turns out the lady I made reservations with took off at 8pm, so as we all arrived to paint… they were “technically” closed. Nothing talks quite like money, so I let the manager know there was a group of at least 10 eager painters and we needed him to make an exception and allow us to paint since it was a mistake on their scheduling. He agreed since the rest of the facility was open for business until 10pm. We got to paint until 9:45pm. I looked around for awhile before I finally decided on what to paint. I wanted something I could get done in 2 hours and something I’d actually use… the trinket box won.

Fire lid & interior with  triple moon

Since the discussion of the flamekeepers cell had already started and I’d chosen a name for my cell, I decided creating a little trinket box in honor of it’s creation was appropriate. I thought about making something specific to our circle, but decided that I wanted to do what was really in the forefront of my mind. Besides, creating Circle of the Black Moon has given way to more inspiration and gumption to create other things, like Cill Willow. In a round-about way, making the little trinket box for Cill Willow IS honoring the creation of our teaching & ritual circle. When I sat down and thought about what I wanted to paint, all that came to mind was fire. So, I painted a little fire on the lid. It represents the fire of inspiration, the fire of the phoenix, the fire that cleanses… it represents the journey I’ve taken without & within our circle to get to where I was on that day. I plan to keep the matches & lighters that I use to tend Brighid’s flame stored in this little box.

In reflecting on how the last year has gone, it’s been an eye opening experience filled with a lot of growth for me as a witch & as a leader. It has been challenging in many ways, tried my patience, made me laugh, drawn people closer & tighter into my circle of friends and seen a few leave it, taught me new things about the path I walk, the people I’m experiencing this with and the topics we’ve covered. It has proven to me that it is possible for a group of people who come from different backgrounds, economic statuses, ethnic groups and walks of life can find common ground in a teaching circle like ours.We are a cohesive group who care for, trust and respect each other as individuals and as circlemates. This feeling of true community is what I was hoping for when I started talking about the possibility of creating my own teaching circle a little over a year ago. To have it come to fruition like it has is a blessing unlike any I’ve had on my path thus far. So, I’d say this past year has been a success! I’m not sure what I was afraid of before, because it has been more reward than challenge every step of the way.

Here’s to many more years of shared learning & ritual space with the people in my circle who have become an extension of my family! You are loved & appreciated more than you all may ever know. Thank you.

Blessings,


K is for Keeper of the Flame

The Three-Fold Fire of Brighid

Fire in the forge that
shapes and tempers.

Fire of the hearth that
nourishes and heals.

Fire in the head that
incites and inspires.

In more than 2,000 years the flame in Kildare has only ever been extinguished twice. Once by Henry of London, the Norman arch-bishop of Dublin who ordered it to be put out as he considered the tending process to be a Pagan practice and not to be tolerated. However, it was quickly relit by the locals and the Sisters continued tending the flame secretly until the 16th century’s British Reformation. During the Reformation, King Henry VIII had a campaign to destroy Catholic monasteries and in this process, attacked the St. Brighid foundation at Kildare, thereby extinquishing the flame. On February 1st of 1807, the Bishop of Kildare, Daniel Delany, restored the Sisterhood of St. Brighid and thereby re-lighting the Eternal Flame of Brigid. The Sisterhood of St. Brighid’s mission was at this point to restore the Ancient Order and bring back the legacy and spirit of St. Brigid to Kildare (and thereby the world). Today Brighid’s flame is tended in Kildare by Brigidine Sisters at their centre called Solas Bhride. It is by the dedication of those who follow her and the deep love for this Goddess that her flame, whether tended by Priestesses or nuns, has continued to burn bright not only in Kildare Ireland, but across the world. Every day there are men and women from many different paths who find themselves drawn to the warmth of her flame like moths. They light candles, tend hearths and keep the oil in their lamps filled in her honor.

While the calling to be a keeper of the flame is personal and the reasons one would feel compelled to do so varies, the most common reason is simply to honor the Goddess Brighid. Since fire is sacred to her, it becomes sacred to those who follow her. In lighting and tending her flame,  the spirit and power of Brighid has a physical presence in our home. Some of the other reasons someone may feel drawn to tend a flame:

    • As a healing request
    • For creative inspiration
    • For guidance
    • To request protection
    • As a reminder of her presence
    • As a focal point in meditations

On the Daughters of the Flame site they say: “The reasons for rekindling are many. It is a celebration in our own lives of Her triple aspects of poet, healer, and smith. It is one effort to address the need for a global network of magical prayer, with special emphasis on some of the traditional concerns of Brigit. These include peace and reconciliation, sharing of wealth so that all will flourish rather than protecting wealth for a few, guarding the land and the creatures which nourishes us and share our lives, being tender with and caring for ourselves and each other. It touches on the need of individual women for a focus and a community through which to develop our personal spiritual practice, to reduce isolation and aid in developing our thought and learning while maintaining the autonomy of working as a solitary, if that is what we prefer or how we find ourselves due to life circumstances. It is, however, very much a self-motivated discipline, both in terms of tending the flame and in connecting with others in the group.”

Traditionally, tending the flame was done by 19 Priestesses who shared the task of tending the flame in 20 day rotations. Each of them tended the flame for a 24 hour period starting on sundown to sundown the following day. On the 20th day the Goddess Brighid tends the flame herself. At sundown following the Goddess tending the flame, the rotation starts anew.

Today in similar fashion as what was done by the Priestesses, each Flamekeeper is assigned a shift to tend Brighid’s flame on a 20 day cycle – 19 shifts, plus one day upon which Brighid tends the flame herself. Since the Celtic day runs from sundown to sundown, we tend from sundown to sundown. The expectation is that you will tend the flame for as much of the day as possible, taking safety into consideration. If you can only manage a few minutes, that is acceptable, although tending the flame the entire day is optimal. The longer you are able to tend, the more energy will be generated: an offering to this world and the otherworld, as well as to Brighid. Tending the flame isn’t meant to just be literal. The point of tending the flame is to spend time with your lit flame in prayer, meditation or silent contemplation. It is the best time to work on strengthening your spiritual bonds.

As a child of Brighid, I have always been drawn to fire and especially intrigued by those who are called to be flame keepers. There have been many times that I have considered tending her flame myself, but for whatever reasons have not followed through as a consistent vigil. This year that has changed and I feel the call louder than I ever have. As a member of Ord Brighideach International I have committed myself to tend her flame starting on June 5th. From June 5th until July 15th I will have 3 shifts where I am honored to keep her flame lit from sundown until sundown. Between now & August 1st I am trying to find 18 other people who are interested in creating a 19 member cell so that we can tend it in rotating shifts together. I’ve put out a request to members in my circle, but not all of them follow Brighid. My hope is that some of them will want to join, even if they don’t follow Brighid, as an offering to her and in honor of my devotion to her. Once I see if anyone from circle is interested I’ll open up the offer to join the cell to others in the broader Pagan community I’m a part of.

If anyone feels drawn to the ideal of being a flame keeper or feels a calling to dedicate themselves to Brighid, I would suggest looking into Ord Brighideach International. You have the option of being an individual flame keeper, joining an existing cell or creating a cell of your own. In addition, you can request and have a candle that was lit with the Kildare perpetual flame of Brighid sent to you for a nominal fee of just $3. If you think you might be interested in keeping the flame with me, please let me know as I am certain that I will need several people to make up my cell of 19 even after some of my circle members join.

I am looking forward to honoring Brighid in this way and hope that my relationship and understanding of her will deepen with each flame of hers that I have the honor of tending.

Blessings,

Blessed Beltane!

This weekend we celebrated, with much fanfare, the beauty of Beltane. We took a lot of photos with the Maypole… ribbons blowing in the breeze.

Rowan & I lead this ritual. It was our first time to lead together & was a lot of fun! We had so many ideas when we were brainstorming that it was hard to narrow down what all we wanted to do, but we managed to do nearly all we had planned. As with any ritual, we realized a little modification & improv was needed in order to get done so that the CUUPS group could hold their ritual after us. So the river stones we intended to decorate for the fae had to be put off for another time. Instead, we offered cookies, sweet wine & flowers.

The ritual was really beautiful. As I said, we made sure to make offerings to the fae (so not to anger them), danced the Maypole & paid homage to the nine sacred woods by utilizing the re-vamped nine sacred woods that Rowan came up with for our area. (Check out her post on it here!) Some of the things we did to make this ritual special were: using a besom to “sweep” the circle doused in peppermint oil, starting the fire in the pit with pieces from each of the nine sacred woods, having our circle mates enter the circle after ritual cleansing of their hands in magnolia, sweetgum & jasmine infused water and we raised energy not only around our usual circle, but incorporating the circle around the Maypole as well dancing a figure eight. This time in order to invoke the elements we used a guided meditation and the sounds of earth, air, fire & water, which was lovely. All of these things were fresh ideas Rowan & I came up with. They made the ritual feel very sacred and connected… exactly what we were hoping for.

Much like our New Moon ritual in March, our Beltane ritual seemed very focused on fertility in my interpretation. While this sabbat is generally very strongly connected to fertility and love, it felt even more so for me, as I’ve recently been taking steps to regulate my hormones through the help of modern medicine in an effort to become more fertile. It’s become a central priority for me and I’m ever hopeful that someday Jay & I will find ourselves planning for the arrival of a new baby. In keeping with the theme of fertility during ritual, Rowan and I carried out the ceremonial Great Rite with the athame & chalice. We decided that Beltane was the perfect time to perform this ceremony and chose to really make a bit of a production out of it. I was veiled and faced Rowan as she said a few words to explain the Great Rite to our circle mates (many of them never witnessing it before)… then I knelt down on the ground, veiled and waited for Rowan to reveal my face. As I knelt down on the ground I thought about the significance of merging the energies of the God & Goddess. As she lowered the athame into the chalice, I visualized the sexual union of the God & Goddess.  It was really powerful.

The highlight of the ritual though, was definitely the Maypole! We couldn’t get enough photos of us by it, draped on it, kissing it… it was a lot of fun. Not to mention dancing it was amusing to say the least. With many first timers, it took us a little bit to really get a good rhythm going, but once we did… we were unstoppable! We had the ribbons woven so well that it was hard to find enough slack to weave the flowers in between the ribbons, but we found a way to make it work (as evidenced by the photo above!). It turned out really beautiful after we were done decorating it. I think everyone was pretty proud of the collaborative work it took to dance the Maypole together and the symbolism wasn’t lost on anyone.

As with many Pagan circles, ours is predominately women, but we do have a few men and they were feeling REAL close to the Horned God standing next to the Maypole. There were many hilarious displays of channeling the Horned God on the part of the men in circle. Much to the delight of Raven (who’s love is on the left) and I (my Jay is on the right), as we knew they would certainly need to properly release some of that carnal energy. I don’t know about Raven, but I was happy to oblige Jay since they he was full of playful energy.

It has certainly been a good time bringing in the May this year. I couldn’t have spent it with a greater group of people. As the days, weeks & months go by, our circle is becoming a very solid family unit full of love, friendship & humor. I look forward to the time I spend with my circle mates, both in teaching circle, ritual and in social settings. Many of them have become some of my best friends and I cannot imagine my life without them.


Here’s to bringing in the May with loved ones! Wishing you all a fertile year full of prosperity & amazing sexual energy!

Blessings,