Imbolc Protection Ritual

Snowdrops ButleyThis rite uses what is commonly known as “The Descent of Brighid” from the Carmina Gadelica. This rite specifically calls upon the powers of the goddess Brighid, and cannot be used interchangeably with another goddess. If you honour or work with other deities, you might consider using the poem as an example to write your own spell or charm of protection. Alternatively, you might just leave out all the references to deity. At the end of the poem, we find the term luatha-luis, whose meaning is not wholly clear, and which is open to interpretation. It may mean a fast-acting, possibly poisonous plant. Luis is the rowan or mountain ash, a powerful and magical tree, whose berries are poisonous when raw, but delicious and nutritious when cooked.
You can perform this ritual every Imbolc, especially if you are a follower or would like to honour Brighid. Or you can simply use it as a rite of protection. You can perform this rite after undergoing a purification such as smudging or saining yourself with smoke from mugwort or vervain.
For this ritual, I would strongly encourage the entire formality of designating sacred space. This will lend focus to your intention, as well as inviting the powers of the ancestors, the three realms, the spirits of place and more to your rite. Choose something that symbolises protection for you, a talisman if you will: something strong and durable, something that will “shield” you physically, spiritually and psychically. You can make a shield yourself, using whatever materials you prefer. This doesn’t have to be a full-body protecting hunk of steel, but again can be symbolic; you can make one out of papier maché to keep near your altar, should you so wish. You might wish to use something natural that you can carry with you, such as a stone or crystal, or even say the poem over a pendant bearing the triskele or triquetra symbol, reflecting the triple nature of Brighid. There are many ways you can use this; be creative!

Rite of Protection Using the Shield of Brighid

Set up and designate your sacred space. Once you have done so, sit or stand for a moment and breathe, focusing your intention on what is to come. Visualise a glowing light beginning to emanate from within, centred on your chest. This light reflects the light of the moon, or the light upon water, or the light of a flame. The energy from this light is not hot, but cool, flowing through you and filling you with strength and confidence, as well as compassion and love. Raise your arms to the sky, drawing down the power of the sky and the full moon. Then hold your hands out in front of you, and draw in the power of the sea, and the highest tide. Finally, hold your hands to the ground, and draw the power of the land into yourself, the serpent energy that courses and connects everything to each other. Stand fully upright once more, noting how the light emanating from within you is even brighter now. Take that light within your mind, and form it into a circle or sphere of light around you. Visualise that light encompassing you, shielding you. If you have a talisman to represent the shield, hold this aloft and still visualise the circle around you. Then say the following words, from “The Descent of Brighid” from the Carmina Gadelica, feeling free to adapt or leave out the Christian influence:

Brigit daughter of Dugall the Brown
Son of Aodh son of Art son of Conn
Son of Criara son of Cairbre son of Cas
Son of Cormac son of Cartach son of Conn.

Brigit of the mantles,
Brigit of the peat-heap,
Brigit of the twining hair,
Brigit of the augury.

Brigit of the white feet,

Brigit of calmness,
Brigit of the white palms,
Brigit of the kine.

Brigit, woman-comrade,
Brigit of the peat-heap,
Brigit, woman-helper,
Brigit, woman mild.

Brigit, own tress of Mary,
Brigit, Nurse of Christ, —
Each day and each night
That I say the Descent of Brigit,
I shall not be slain,
I shall not be wounded,
I shall not be put in cell,
I shall not be gashed,
I shall not be torn in sunder,
I shall not be despoiled,
I shall not be down-trodden,
I shall not be made naked,
I shall not be rent,
Nor will Christ
Leave me forgotten.

Nor sun shall burn me,
Nor fire shall burn me.
Nor beam shall burn me.
Nor moon shall burn me.

Nor river shall drown me.
Nor brine shall drown me.
Nor flood shall drown me.
Nor water shall drown me.

Nightmare shall not lie on me,
Black-sleep shall not lie on me.
Spell-sleep shall not lie on me,
‘ Luatha-luis ‘ shall not lie on me.

I am under the keeping
Of my Saint Mary;
My companion beloved
Is Brigit.

Let the words sink into the air around you. Let them suffuse the light that encircles you with their power. When you are ready, draw the circle of light that surrounds you back into yourself, centred on your chest. If you have a special talisman that you’d like to infuse with this energy instead, draw the circle of light that surrounds you into your talisman. When all the light has gone where it should, stand for a moment and see how this makes you feel. You can test the circle of light, by holding up your dominant hand (right if you are right-handed, left if you are left-handed) and immediately bring the circle of light back around your being. See it spring back up with ease, to surround you and protect you. If you are using a talisman, see it coming forth from the talisman. You can call and release this power as you wish, as you need. It is not something to be played with, but something real, an energy being focused around you. You are connecting with the power of Brighid.
When you are satisfied that you have the protection you need, it is time to reciprocate and leave an offering for what you have been given. As the lady of poetry, smithcraft and of healing, an offering related of one or all of these would be suitable.
Close down your ritual, and renew this rite of protection whenever you feel it necessary.

This ritual is an excerpt from my latest work, The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker, published by Llewellyn Worldwide.

(c) Joanna van der Hoeven 2019

New video about Imbolc is now up!

Learn about the festival of Imbolc, and how to incorporate it into your magical life 🙂  Subscribe to my Youtube channel to keep up to date with all my new videos! Blessings of the coming gentle time of Imbolc to you all. xoxo

Reblog: Autumn Equinox and the Serpent Energies of Albion

This is a reblog from my channel, DruidHeart at SageWoman Magazine’s section on the Witches and Pagans website.

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The autumn equinox is upon us today, and we stand on the knife’s edge, leaping, stumbling, tumbling or diving down into the long nights. I love this time of year, as many of you know. The scents of leaves decaying in piles on the forest floor, the brilliant colours and the crisp air fills my heart with such joy. It is a wild cacophony to the senses, one last “hurrah!” before the silence of winter descends.

 
I love the retreat back into the earth, feeling my energy sinking back into my roots. The crazy time of summer and festivals, camps, parties and revelry has passed, and now it is time of reflection. We turn ourselves inwards, away from the social gatherings and noise, and focus on our own inner selves and what we have achieved. We take stock, we sum up, we begin the journey down into the darkness where one by one our senses are lost, eventually dreaming into the winter and letting go during the peaceful rest of deep sleep.

 
During the spring months, when the earth was warming under the eye of the sun, I felt Brighde’s energy rising, a large white dragon/serpent beneath the land that connected all of Albion. Dancing in the energies of midsummer, she then slowly began her retreat back into herself, and now at the equinox I feel her pulling back into the earth, the wild ride of her energy sinking back into the soil, the serpent retreating back into the cool nourishing earth, preparing for slumber. I too feel myself riding these serpent energies, ready to dream big this winter with wonderful new plans awaiting me.

 
Brighde is ancient. She is, for me, the British Isles. She is the bones of this land. She is not a mother goddess. She does not follow cycles of maiden, mother, queen and crone. She always was and always will be. She is as young as the snowdrop and as old as the hills. She has no relation at all to the Bridget of the mixed, revealed Christian and Pagan mythos. She is not all loving, she is not a warrior queen, she is not human in any way. She is the land, in a vast and exceedingly simple but elegant way…

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To read the the full article, please click HERE.

A Rainy Day and 8 Coloured Pencils…

Brighde has called to me since my visit to the White Spring in Glastonbury (and twice before) and I have answered that call.  I am currently exploring her Fire element.  Here’s what the inspiration of Brighde provided this afternoon…

Fire of Brighde ©Joanna van der Hoeven 2014

Fire of Brighde ©Joanna van der Hoeven 2014

Fire of Brighde ©Joanna van der Hoeven 2014

Fire of Brighde, ©Joanna van der Hoeven 2014

Fire of Brighde ©Joanna van der Hoeven 2014

Fire of Brighde, ©Joanna van der Hoeven 2014

The White Serpent Rising and the Goddess of Spring

The earth is stirring, can you feel it? Walking out in the sunshine today, I felt that same feeling that I had when I was a child back in Canada, that first day when the roads are clear, though still thick with sand, and you can take your bicycle out after the long winter months.  That smell of warming ground, of sunlight and fresh breezes, that scent of spring lingering, filtering through every fibre of your soul.  The scent of life.

Today has been warm, the sun’s strength heating the shoulders and exposed skin, pale after a long winter.  The birds are singing with renewed vigour – the great tits and blue tits, the pigeons and blackbirds, jackdaws and crows.  The trees, still snoozing lightly, have the first buds appearing, and the daffodils are mingling with the snowdrops and the hellebore that the deer have decided to stop eating.

There is anticipation all around.  What will this year bring? What new growth will there be, both in the physical and in the spiritual realms?  It’s almost like a humming, deep within the earth, that is slowly rising to the surface. Indeed, the white serpent is rising.

At Imbolc, during ritual I had a vision.  Sitting on my picnic blanket in the rural idyll of my backyard, feeling the ground beneath my feet responding to the first warm sunny day; I had a flash of vision tear through my soul – the white serpent.  Deep within the ground of these isles, there lies a white serpent of the land.  The white serpent IS the land.  It connects all of this land, and it is the heart and soul personified.  I was connected to everything and everyone, and it was inspiring.

This land, England, and indeed the whole of the UK and Ireland, has been inhabited by humans for an indeterminably long time.  I can feel it when I place my hands on the soil here – it is different to Canada, where although humans have lived there for just as long, there are vast expanses of land where no human foot has ever trod.  With space limited in these emerald isles, the songs of humanity run deep through it, alongside that of everything else that makes these little islands so wonderful.

With the deeds to my house, I have old, handwritten ones that go back hundreds and hundreds of years, to when the land was first purchased, and became an orchard, and then “hovels” existed upon it in the Victorian era, growing into cottages and finally the houses that are seen today.  There is a lot of human history here, alongside the natural history that is incredibly fascinating.  Sitting outside today, I could feel the old apple trees, long since cut down, stirring in the first soft light of spring.  Voices of those who lived here, mingling on the breeze with the birdsong and the sound of airplanes, high overhead, bound for the west.

And through it all the white serpent was stirring, awakening from the slumber and rising to the surface. Incredibly beautiful, this white dragon-like being enveloped it all, and still does, closer to the surface now – I’m quite certain that at either Beltane or Midsummer it will be revealed in all its glory.

I have done some research on this white serpent – it is not the white wyrm of the Saxon heritage. It is entirely British, entirely native to these isles.  I have come across a few references of a white serpent and the goddess Brigit, whom I’ve always been intrigued by but never had a “calling” to explore.  I’m thinking that is all going to change in the very near future.

Riding the excitement of the rising tides, like riding down the street that first time on my bicycle in the Spring – that is what life is all about.  New discoveries, and every spring we are reminded to look for these things in our lives, and to take inspiration from it all.

Blessed spring, everyone! May the Goddess of Spring bring you joy.