And here I was contemplating just a few weeks ago whether I’d have anything new to say about our Grove’s various annual traditions after writing for this blog for over a year. Glancing back at last January’s entries, I now see that I really didn’t say anything at all about the Brídeog! Well, a brief mention in this article, but nothing to give the non-SluG reader a sense of what it’s about. I only included our actual Imbolc weekend practices in the article about Imbolc, of course that’s enough to do a double-sized article, since so many traditions have been built up around Bríd over the years, both in Ireland and in our Grove.
Starting back in 1997, our Grove has done our own variation of the old Irish tradition of the Brídeog. Our information about the Brídeog procession doesn’t go all the way back to pre-Christian Ireland, but we thought it was a fair assumption that practices centering around Saint Brigit have been at least influenced by the ancient practices surrounding Bríd/Brigidh/(your ad here)/whatever name for the Exalted One you want to use. A group of us (known as “biddies”, a traditional nickname form of “Bridget”) decorate our Grove’s corn dolly and carry her from house to house – well, drive her, we being moderns and this being winter – to bestow her blessings upon the homes and those who live in them. There’s fun, there’s singing, there’s praying, there’s collection for our favorite local food bank, and there’s a real sense of connection to the Ancients and the Goddess who was right there in their household every day.
Over the years, we’ve had busy processions and not so busy processions. 1999 saw so many requests that we had to start in the afternoon and were still out past midnight; other years have seen us visit all of two homes. This year isn’t looking busy so far, with all of one request for us to visit. I can understand the reticence, no really, as my mother pointed out this morning a lot of people aren’t thrilled with the thought of having strangers invade their house, even when it’s only a mock invasion. But I do think that folks are really missing out on something that takes us beyond our High Day rituals into the real meat of our practice and our faith. If the only reason you’ve given the Brídeog a miss before is because you don’t want visitors to your home, at least consider joining the processional. A three-house Brideog can still be very energetic and meaningful if we have enough people involved.
And if you can’t be involved in the Brídeog at all, there’s still our An Bruane session on Tuesday evening (7 PM, 263 Larkspur, Ann Arbor), when we’ll be making the Bríd Crosses and decorating the corn dolly. While An Bruane is usually our only members-only event, we’re opening this one up to anyone who wants to take part. People who are better with handicrafts than I am (i.e. everyone) can help us prepare for both the Brídeog procession and the Imbolc ritual.
For more info on Bríd and her traditions, check out these articles written by our former Senior Druid, Fox: http://www.shininglakes.bravehost.com/deities/bridol.html
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF
What we did for our 1998 Brídeog: http://www.shininglakes.bravehost.com/brideog98.html