Festival Outline

I’ve detailed some rituals in this section, which I perform either on their own or all together for the festivals. On their own, on various pages, they don’t necessarily give much sense of how I put them together as a whole. This page is intended to help remedy that, for when I celebrate the festivals; but of course, these rituals are very personal to my own circumstances and outlook, with a focus on the hearth and home, and generally they’re solitary in nature, which means they won’t be of use to everyone. You’re more than welcome to try them out, if you wish.

I find it helps to have some set pieces of liturgy that I can perform again and again, but there are parts of ritual that I prefer to take a more improvised approach to. For this reason, I’ve yet to write down any formalised rituals specific to the festivals, although I do tend to plan what I’m going to do, and in what order, ahead of time.

With a young family, it’s sometimes necessary to move things around and adapt as best I can. Generally, I aim to keep to the order outlined below:

• The Deiseal
• Saining
• Rowan Charms
• Feasting and Festivities

But this is an ideal, and sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got and go with the flow.

Preparation

It helps to have a focal point, either a hearth, altar or specially prepared space to put your candle, offerings and libations on, etc. It will also help to have everything prepared – at the least, you will need:

  • A candle (or fire) and lighter
  • Offerings and libations
  • Spring water or the skim of the well
  • Silver or gold penny
  • Sticks of rowan (cut to size)
  • Red thread (cut to size)

You can also decorate the house or living area as appropriate for the festival, and don’t forget anything else you might need for the festivities.

An Deiseal

This can be done as a devotional on its own, or as an opening to a larger ritual. It helps to have a focal point for your devotions, either a hearth, altar or specially prepared space to put your candle, offerings and libations on.

Begin with paying your respects to the ancestors, spirits of the place and the gods. Light the candle/fire saying something like:

“I light this flame in welcome:
For the gods and ungods, noble and honoured;
For the ancestors, beloved dead;
For the spirits of this place, peace be to you.”

Give an offering and a libation, a sign of your devotion, saying something like:

“Mar a bha,
Mar a tha,
Mar a bhitheas…

(As it was,
As it is,
As it shall be).

A blessing of blessings
Upon all three.”

Taking a quaich or glass of milk (or whatever else) raise it before the gods, spirits and ancestors and take a drink. Make the sunwise turn and a Good Wish, going round three times, saying:

Gliocas beithir dhuit,
Glucose fithich dhuit,
Gliocas fiolar euchdaich.
Wisdom of serpent be yours,
Wisdom of raven be your,
Wisdom of valiant eagle.
Guth na h-eala dhuit,
Guth na meala dhuit,
Guth mhic na reula.
Voice of swan be yours,
Voice of honey be yours,
Voice of the son of the stars.
Tacar mara dhuit,
Tacar talamh dhuit,
Tacar nèimhe.
Bounty of sea be yours,
Bounty of land be yours,
Bounty of skies.

Some quiet contemplation and meditation can follow before finishing with some words of thanks and a final offering. Alternatively, a saining of the space can also be performed (a protective warding, performed especially on the Quarter Days, usually with water or the smoke from burning juniper), before feasting and further ritual, or whatever you feel is appropriate.

Saining

Go to the hearth or the designated centre of the house (if you have no hearth, the stove in the kitchen will do, or wherever you keep an altar or shrine if you keep one). Using some of the water skimmed at Bealltainn, or fresh spring water if you don’t have any, put something gold or silver into it with the words:

Toradh, airgead, uisge,
(Produce, silver, water,)
Blessings of An Trì Naomh on this water.

Dip your fingers (or a small bundle of straw) into the water and sprinkle it liberally over yourself, saying:

Ta mise for dhìonadh
Na Brìghde gach latha;
Ta mise for dhìonadh
Na Brìghde gach oidhche.
I am under the shielding
Of Brigid each day;
I am under the shielding
Of Brigid each night.

If you are in a group, repeat for everyone present. Now go deiseil (sunwise) around the house, sprinkling the water around. Concentrate on the thresholds and windows especially, and as you do so repeat:

Dìon Brìghde air gach uinneig,

Dìon Brìghde air gach doras,
Dìon Brìghde gach toll a leigeas solas,
Air ceithir oiseannan mo thaighe,
Air ceithir oiseannan mo leaba,
Air ceithir oiseannan mo thaighe,
Air ceithir oiseannan mo leaba.
The protection of Brigid upon each window,
The protection of Brigid on each door,
The protection of Brigid on each hole that lets light in,
Upon the four corners of my house,
Upon the four corners of my bed,
Upon the four corners of my house,
Upon the four corners of my bed.

You can keep reciting this as you go around your home sprinkling the water. You should ideally finish where you started, making a complete circuit of the house.

Once you are back at the hearth (or wherever you started), sprinkle some water over it (or process round the outside of the house, if you can, but either way sprinkle deiseil), saying:

A Bhrìghde, beannaich an taigh,

Bho steidh gu staidh,
Bho chrann gu fraigh,
Bho cheann gu saidh,
Bho dhronn gu traigh,

Bho sgonn gu sgaith,
Eadar bhonn agus bhraighe,
Bhonn agus bhraighe.
Brigid, bless the house,
From site to stay,
From beam to wall,
From end to end,
From ridge to basement,
From balk to roof-tree,
From found to summit,
Found and summit.

When you have finished, return to your hearth or shrine and give prayers of heartfelt thanks and offerings to Brigid for her assistance. Take some time to contemplate and decompress so you come back to yourself properly.

Rowan charm

As you make the charm:

I make this charm for the threshold,
With the name of belovéd Bride on my lips,
A charm between this house and harm.

Then go to the place where it will be hung and secure it in place, saying:

I place the rowan and red thread before the door,
With the name of belovéd Bride on my lips,
A charm between this house and harm;

Against eye,
Against envy,
Against withering glance,
Against malice,
Against lightning,
Against storm,
Against flood,
Against disaster,
Against disease.

A charm between this house and harm,
Charm of subduing and averting,
Under sky, over sea, across land,
With the name of belovéd Bride on my lips.

Feasting and Festive Rites

Now is the time for the feasting and the appropriate festive rites for the occasion (suggestions are given in the Celebrations section). Further offerings should be given at the end of the evening, and omens can be looked for to see if they have been accepted.

In the morning, as the sun rises, I might perform the frìth, and make the bannocks if I haven’t already done so.