Five years ago an Englishwoman, a Scottish woman and an American-Irish woman travelled together to Galway to attend the Spreading Brigit's Cloak conference at Brigit's Garden.  My friends Morag and Jo, and I had a memorable weekend celebrating the Feast of Brigit together with many other woman from across the globe. In the intervening years we have not always been able to celebrate together, but this year we all had day time available on Imbolc New Moon day, 4th February. So we three, the self-styled Cailleach Coven, met again at Imbolc.

At that conference we encountered the Crios Bríd and it's ritual. If you have ever read Seamus Heaney's poem "Brigid's Girdle", you will begin to understand. It is the belt of the goddess (or saint). I had seen one made once before, with the man trying to facsimilate the traditional way of weaving a straw rope with a hand sickle. It was tricky and it looked like a recipe for injury. At the Brigit's Garden conference there was a much more health and safety version one made from yarn. 

This gave me the inspiration to make one of my own back in December 2016 for Imbolc 2017. And I have to say, with it coiled in a basket, it really does look like the serpent of Brigid's Day weather lore and

Gaelic hymnals.

"Early on Bride's morn

Shall the serpent come from the hole.

I will not harm the serpent,

Nor will the serpent harm me.

If you decide to make one for yourself, you will need white or cream Aran wool and 6-7 mm knitting needles. Cast on 15 stitches. Sorry but I cannot remember how much wool I needed, but I believe I needed two large balls of cream wool.

Knit three x 15 foot lengths 

Plait/braid the three lengths. Tie them with a ribbon (I chose green for new growth) at either end.

I adorned my crios with symbols of Brigid's associations. For writing/poetry I sewed on my Girl Scout badge from back in the day! My friend Morag embroidered a badge of a snake to represent healing. For smithcraft I attached two silver trinkets - a Brigid's cross for the saint and a sun for the solar goddess Brighid.

After catching up  and admiring Morag's new set of Oracle Cards,we settled down to creating our own Crios Bríd ceremony, based on our experience at Brigit's Garden five years ago. Now that ceremony was very lovely, but most of it was in Irish. Although a translation was provided, it seemed appropriate to write one that resonated with English speakers. So after some discussion I wrote the words for the ceremony that reflected our collective wish to honor the triune nature of Brighid at Imbolc New Moon.

The Crios is held aloft in a rough semi-circle, which Jo said reminds her of the womb

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Incidentally, that gorgeous painting in the background is by Morag Donald (on the right), entitled The Bird Flies High and Sees All. She is an artist and reiki master and you can find out more about her on her blog at https://moragdonald.wordpress.com.

You will need a minimum of three for this ritual.

After calling in the directions and some time to silently compose our individual Imbolc intentions I read:

This is the womb

This is the gate

This is the tomb

 

The earth opens Herself.

She welcomes.

Open your heart, offer yourself

to the multiplicity

of new possibility.

The earth offers itself to us

in its greening dream.

 


Then I went through the crios saying for the Maiden/Seed:

Walk through the gate. Sow your intention.


As I passed through deosil I took the crios so Morag could walk through. Then she took the other end of the crios so Jo could walk through.

We repeated that for the final two passes.

For the Mother/Fruit:

Walk though the gate. Manifest your intention.


For the Crone/Seed:

Walk through the gate. Offer your intention.

And of course, after the ceremony is the 'cakes and ale.' Except it was lunch followed by tea, coffee and cake.

(As an aside, I make a poppy seed cake each Imbolc as a nod to the seeds implanted at this feast. Although lemon drizzle is also a nod to the increasing sunlight of the season. We had both!)

And abundant thanks to Jo and Morag, Brighid's cailleachs, who were generous enough to allow me to share with you this ceremony.

I hope your Imbolc New Moon felt as tender and blessed as our domestic ceremony amongst three women.