Nurturing the Home Fire at Imbolc

This weekend we celebrate Imbolc, one of the four major Sabbats in the pagan Wheel of the Year. At the winter solstice we welcomed the return of the Sun, but the peek of winter doesn’t arrive until Imbolc. Even though the days are slowly getting longer, the temperatures are at their lowest and the weather is bitter.

Imbolc is a Gaelic celebration of the goddess Brigit, who was later integrated into Christianity as Saint Brigit. She is a fire goddess, associated with creativity, inspiration, and healing. In the depth of winter, Brigit calls on us to turn inwards, to nurture the fire in both our homes and ourselves. This is the time of year when we generally experience cabin fever - and creativity is the best antidote. By pursuing creativity, we honor Brigit and nurture ourselves.

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The Brigit Novena

One of my teachers taught me a meditative exercise for deepening one’s connection to Brigid, which can be used as a devotional exercise or as an intention-setting ceremony. Use this exercise to help you with your creative endeavors or any project that could benefit from some fire energy. This exercise can be performed at any time of the year, not just at Imbolc. You will need 9 red candles, and commit to a 9-day stretch where you can meditate for 10-15 minutes every evening.

Before you start, clearly define the intent of your novena. The intent can be to simply develop a closer relationship with Brigit, or you can ask for guidance or energetic help for a specific project or situation. Whatever you pick for your intent, this is what you’ll be nurturing for the duration of the 9 days. Write this down on a piece of paper.

Every night, for nine nights, you will perform a short ceremony for Brigit. Using a fire safe dish, set up one of your candles in a place where you can leave it to burn all the way down. Place the piece of paper with your written intent under the fire safe dish. If you are able to set up an altar, you can arrange offerings in front of the candle, such as a dish of rosemary or a piece of carnelian.

Before lighting the candle, take a deep breath and clear your mind. As you light the candle, say: “I light this candle in honor of Brigid and ask her to witness my ceremony.” Then make it clear why you are calling on her, such as: “With this novena, I ask for her blessings/I ask for her guidance on this project.”

After stating your intent, take a few minutes to enter a meditative state and watch the flame. Allow yourself to feel your connection to Brigit and your inner fire, and hold your intent clear in your mind. When you feel ready, take a deep breath and release your intent. Allow the candle to continue burning all the way down.

Repeat this every night for the duration of the 9 day period, burning one candle each night. On your last night, use the last candle to burn your piece of paper and thank Brigit for her blessings.

Speaking of creative projects, my book A Little Bit of Shamanism is officially available for pre-order!