Category Archives: Festivals

The Eternal Flame of Bride

The weather has been quite literally foul today, I drove through snow, thunder and lightning all at the same time. Whilst walking between buildings I stopped to enjoy the sunshine whilst being pelted with hail. Much to the amusement of my work colleagues. Truly a day of change. And according to some folk lore, if Brides Eve is fair then the Callieach will venture out for some time to come. But if the weather is foul, the. spring is just round the corner. So if my day was anything to judge, I’m hoping for a balmy Saint David’s day.

My Imbolc this year could not be any more different if it tried. 12 months ago found me in a quiet woodland grove in silent contemplation on a cold, crisp and very much still winters night. I contemplated the nature of The Goddess and the lessons (and gifts) she had for me. This year I find myself early to bed, a wondrous weekend of magic and transformation ahead of me, and a beautiful afternoon of snowdrops and cleansing ritual behind me. A time of new beginnings, I stand on the cusp of a time of change which like an enchantress tempts me forward.

It’s fair to say Bride has been a quiet but constant companion for me this year, she shares many of the same traits as other deities I work with such as Hekate and Ceridwen, so it’s not very surprising. She has province over flame, and Water, of healing and of transformation. She is a fierce protectress for those she names as her own. But isn’t above also teaching strict lessons to those who fail to heed her words and gifts. So to honour her I thought I would share this prayer of protection from the Carmina Gaedelica by Alexander Carmichael a folklorist from the 19th Century. Although the contents of this work often has much older providence. I have adapted it somewhat to make it slightly less Christian but believe it keeps its essence beautifully. A truly powerful prayer indeed.

Adapted from a Traditional Scottish Gaelic Supplication of Saint Brigit

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 the 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, Goddess of the Well,

Brigit, Nurse of infant child,

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 gashed,

I shall not be torn asunder,

I shall not be despoiled

I shall not be down-trodden

I shall not be made naked,

I shall not be rent

Nor will the Goddess Brigit forsake me

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,

Nor will the Goddess Brigit forsake me

For I am under the keeping of the Eternal Flame of Bride

And So the Wheel of Hekate slowly turns

LoI think it’s fair to say that this years Perseid celebrations were quiet for me. I celebrated a small rite with a group of friends and used the ritual to clear out some baggage that I’ve been carrying around this past year which was phenomenally cathartic. This year has seen some massive changes both personally and professionally. What with resigning from the Covenant of Hekate and starting my own business.

Despite it being low key I have been blown away by the energy of the last few weeks. I can only attribute that to the sheer quantity of Hekate devotees who now celebrate either the Perseids, the new Hekatesia on the 13th, or Nemoralia (The festival of torches) on the full moon just past. I sat in the dark late yesterday evening watching a golden glowing orb rise into the night sky. A fire burnt at my feet, I listened to the sound of the waves gently breaking just a couple of metres away. And I was quite literally filled with bliss, a sense of rightness and calm. A completion of a cycle. The wheel of Hekate has once again turned.

This completion couldn’t have been made more clear when I woke this morning, our glorious summer weather has turned. It’s still fairly warm, but now it’s blustery and rainy. We still have hope for more spells of warm; but it’s now that season where with every squall the returning fair weather will be each time just that little bit cooler. Then before we know it Autumn will be upon us. Listening to the wind blowing in the trees outside my bedroom window made me think about Hekate and the weather. She must have had some control over it, for she was purported to help sailors to bring in a good catch and that can be very weather dependent. But for the life of me I cannot bring to mind any specific references. Or even a grasp of how the ancient Greeks understood *weather*.

I have a grasp of their calendar systems, their seasons, even their notion of the winds. But they are quite a tract concepts aren’t they? I think I feel a project coming on.

And in the absence of facts…..Modern Festivals to Hekate

If there is one subject that is guaranteed to get some folks hot under the collar it has to be the trend of celebrating thoroughly modern and historically inaccurate festivals. It is a practise that until just a few years ago I disagreed with quite vehemently. Looking back now it is fair to say that in the early days of writing Temple of Hekate I felt that it was very important that people understood how the ancient Attic calendar really worked and wrote upon it at some length. Although those pages didn’t make the editorial cuts I felt strongly enough about it that at a later date I posted a blog entry so the details were available for all to see. This opinion hasn’t been a passing fad either, but as I stated when I discussed the Deipnon way back in 2009 and is worthy of repeating, I am not a reconstructionist, far from it. But I was and still am very heavily invested in debunking some of the more common “myths” that I had stumbled over myself in my early days of research and practise, so I tended to shy away from the modern, the unverified, and the inaccurate.

I’ve done some perspective changing since that time, quite surprisingly so. I think the first inkling of the change was when we realised that Her Sacred Fires was here to stay. Now hurtling towards its 7th anniversary and showing no signs of slowing down we appear to have created a thoroughly modern festival enjoyed by thousands. And this isn’t the only one. August the 13th is another, a modern date fixed as the result of a mis-understanding of how the Attic calendar worked, but it has grown and swollen and truly become a thing, a world-wide thing. A thing that people can get behind, work together with, create and share and laugh and love. How can this thing be bad?

Furthermore we have literally just celebrated Hekate’s Day on the 16th of November in The Sanctuary of Hekate Enodia. When Mima, my friend and CoH Torchbearer who co-runs the Sanctuary with me suggested we do something to mark the date I nearly fell off my chair. This festival doesn’t even have the dubious honour of being a festival that once existed and got dumped into a modern calendar. This festival has, as far as I am aware, no historical precedence whatsoever. In fact it is the epitome of everything I hate about modern practise, a new thing pretending to be something old. And then it hit me, it’s not the celebration that I hate, in fact I love a good excuse for our Sanctuary to come together and do work. It is the belief that it dates back to some long ago historical practise that fills me with dread.

So we put up some information regarding the provenance of the festival and ahead we went. And all I can say was that the connection between some of the group was quite startling. We were all working remotely but the imagery shared was so similar. So similar that I had to feel that we were getting nothing less than a resounding stamp of approval for our actions and the work and effort we have all been putting in recently. We certainly shall be celebrating this date again, along with Her Sacred Fires and August 13th (which traditionally is the Roman festival Nemoralia and the ill dated Festival of Kourotrophos, Artemis and Hekate – which should actually be celebrated on 16 Metageitnion but let’s not split hairs). At the end of the day the religion of the Greeks and Romans and many others was fluid, it grew and changed and was subject to regional variations. Somethings were adopted, others allowed to pass into memory only, some lost to the ages. If we fail to recognise that then we fall into dogma and fundamentalism. An ethos I decided I did not agree with a long long time ago.

So we shall celebrate these rites, knowing their true nature we shall perform them anyway. We shall lift our heads proudly and say, we created this in honour of the Goddess Hekate, we honour you just as our ancestors did but in times and climes appropriate to us.

En Erebos Phos!