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Evergreen: A Year of Yule Tree Crafts and Rituals... In the belly: the Brideog
The Brideog, or “little Brigid,” comes down to us from ancient times. She was a corn doll (corn being wheat) that was fashioned into a female form and decorated with ribbons and shells. A bed of straw was prepared for her before the hearth in the home where she was assembled, and the young, unmarried women of the village would sit vigil with her on the night of January 31st. The next morning, on Imbolc, the girls would parade the brideog through the village to each home. There, the married women (or the female head of the household) would welcome the spirit of the Goddess. Create a modern-day Brideog using branches from your evergreen as a base, so adding a dash of Yuletide's hopeful energy. (Yule tree? But it's FEBRUARY! If you need to backtrack a bit, have a look at our introduction to this year-long magical project and tips for preparation and storage. If you do not have access to a Yule evergreen, fallen branches from other trees can be used for this craft. Use your favorite resource to identify the tree from which the branch came, and what energy that particular tree will bring to this work.)
- Two Yule tree branches. The length will depend of the wheat being used for this craft (branches should be half the length of your wheat stalks)
- 30-40 Stalks of wheat. Soak the wheat in warm water for three to four hours in a container that will accommodate its length. Weigh the wheat down with a brick or stone so that it is completely submerged. When you're ready to construct your Brideog, remove the wheat from the water and pat it dry with a towel before crafting.
- White ribbon
- Optional: Small shells that can be threaded through the ribbon
Tips to make this a greener craft: An often overlooked resource for ribbon—and other supplies—is gift packaging. Try to salvage all ribbon, wrapping, boxes, and packing materials so that they can be recycled for crafting. Yarn can be substituted for ribbon. Left over lengths from other projects can be used for magical crafting, but articles of knit clothing that are no longer wearable—hats, mittens, sweaters—are also good resources for yarn. When using recycled materials of this nature (especially articles of clothing) be sure that the material is clean and free of stains, and sprinkle it with salt to remove any unwanted energies and associations that may be attached to it.
- Lay the branches on a flat surface so that they form a non-equilateral cross, the bottom half of the vertical piece being longer than the top. Both sides of the horizontal branch should be equal in length. Then cut a length of ribbon or yarn and bind the twigs together where they intersect to stabilize them. This will be the base of the Brideog.
- Divide the wheat into two equal piles and set one of them aside.
- Next, divide the remaining pile into two smaller ones. Lay one of these smaller piles on top of the left hand “arm” of the crossed twigs, heads pointed outward. With a short piece of white ribbon, tie the wheat to the arm, right beneath the heads.
- Align the other small pile with the right hand arm of the crossed twigs and, again, tie the wheat to the arm with a small piece of ribbon. The stalks of the wheat should be long enough to overlap the center of the crossed twigs. If the stalks are too long, trim them down. With two more pieces of ribbon, tie the stalks to the arms at the axis of the cross, left and right.
- Lay a piece of ribbon or yarn (about a foot long) on your working surface. Then take the remaining wheat and place it on top of the ribbon vertically, heads downward.
- Next, place the branch cross on top of this wheat, face down. The bottom of the cross should be even with the wheat heads. The wheat should be long enough that the stalks extend above the top of the cross. Fold these stalks over the top of the cross.
- Use the horizontal ribbon to tie the stalks in place at the back, anchoring the stalks to the heads. If desired, another piece of ribbon or yarn may be used to tie the stalks directly above the point where the two twigs cross.
- When turned right side up, the Brideog should now resemble a female figure, the folded stalks being the head, the horizontal twigs and wheat, her arms, and the wheat stalks and heads facing downward, a skirt. Fan out the downward facing wheat stalks for fullness.
- To add stability to the Brideog, wind a length of ribbon over and across at the intersecting point and knot it three times. Small shells representing Brigid's water element can be threaded onto the ribbon ends.
It was traditional to parade a Brideog through the village so that Brigid, in the form of the Brideog could visit every home and bless it. Bless and purify water with three pinches of salt and anoint the Brideog. Carry it, and the water through your home, speaking the following poem to invoke the blessing of Brigid for the coming year:
Welcome the spirit of Brigid
Welcome, to our hearth and hall!
With water and pyre
With dew, mist and fire
We welcome the healing of all.
Using your fingers, spritz the corners of each room with the purified water. When every space is so blessed, hang the Brideog where it can watch over you, undisturbed. At the Winter Solstice, place her atop the Yule log before it is set alight.
Up Next... An Imbolc Healing Necklace
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