This morning I started preparing for Imbolc. I cleaned out my altar paraphernalia and organised it, removed the last vestiges of Solstice-related objects from the main altar, and tidied Brighid’s shrine in the kitchen. There is more to be done, of course, because my house should be tidy and welcoming in preparation for Brighid’s arrival – and by extension, so that I may welcome any guest at any time, in the spirit of hospitality. Whereas my house is no means dirty, this year at Imbolc I would like to cultivate a higher set of standards when it comes to the hospitality I can show my guests.
This is the first year that I’ve had my own place, which I share with Lugaid only, and as such, the importance of Imbolc seems so much more real to me. I am the “woman of the house”, and I can stand at the threshold and welcome Brighid in. I look forward to it greatly, as I feel it is a real honour.
This year’s Imbolc with the Grove is going to look a little different. We are gathering the night before at my house to create the objects that will be used in the ritual the next day. In previous years, it has been only one or two members who have made the brídeog and the crosóg, but this year, all members who wish to gather will be participating.
We will begin with an opening prayer, then divide into three groups: one will make the brídeog, one will make her bed, and one will make the large crosóg for the ritual. We will gather again when the tasks are completed, and share in a light spread of delicious homemade bread, preserves, and dairy products (and dairy-like products for our lactose intolerant friends). After we feast, the ritual objects will be carefully packed away for the next day’s ritual.
Traditionally, certain tasks surrounding Imbolc were gendered: the making of the brídeog and bed, for instance. In the case of the Grove, when creating the additional ritual to accompany Imbolc, we have chosen not to make the tasks gendered. We will divide ourselves into the three groups based on what we feel like creating, and also, skill level. Some of us have made these objects before, some of us haven’t, and this will be an excellent teaching opportunity for everyone. (Our men also expressed worry when they heard that in some instances, men made the brídeog – Lugaid asked that the women help, so that Brighid doesn’t end up lopsided!)
At home, however, we live in a fairly traditional relationship (though it is I who takes care of the household’s worship), so we will be maintaining certain gender roles in our celebration. In past years I’ve not held separate celebrations for our household, seeing as we are participating in the celebrations for the group, but this year we will make our own brídeog and celebrate in a smaller fashion here as well.
In addition to the Grove and our personal celebrations, next week on Wednesday is also my flametending shift. I am a flametender in two Brigidine groups, including the ADF Brighid’s Hearth SIG. Given its proximity to Imbolc, I will be paying special attention to this shift, doing more in depth work, though I’m not entirely sure of all the details yet. I hope to write about flametending in an upcoming post soon, and deal with some of the issues surrounding it.
May your Imbolc preparations be blessed!