Lus: a flame, an herb

by Jenne Micale

Lus means both "a flame" and "an herb," and invokes Brighid of the hearth, the locus of everyday healing, sustenance and storytelling.


Tea Brewing (Chi Pot)

Come then. Your hands lace around the
chipped cup framing your eyes with
rising steam. The knots and veins of them thread
a landscape -- mountains, valleys, broad rivers.

Age hones you into the image of Earth.

At your back, the snow catches sound like mice
on a cat's paw. Turn instead to the fire.

Let it delight your eye, let it spark a
story as it heats the tea, as it draws
us to the corners of the hearth. A breath
and again. Begin with prayers to cattle
and to men. Come then, you chant, let me tell
you of times spun of mist and shit and earth.

Let me tell you of the herb you hold in
your cup. Let me tell you, the singing harp
the strings unstruck, of the hiss of fat from
the cooking fish that turns boy into bard.

It starts with a hearth, with a cup of tea,
with age in your hands and fire in your eye,
a hearkening ear, and a crackling tongue.⁠

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Tinne / The Ingot

by Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

Tinne, whose name means "ingot," is all about technical skill and mastery; it invokes Brighid, the smith, in its way. Its initial line is a quote commonly attributed to the Anglo-Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

In dreams begin responsibilities,
the poet hammers, the blows echoing
through the damp halls of a benighted past.

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GryphonSong Clan – Feast of Awakening (Imbolc 2014)

Photo of GryphonSong's Keltrian Druid Altar
GryphonSong Altar

Our group is moving toward preparations for The Feast of Awakening in our area.  We will be enacting the sevenfold blessing of stepping through Brid's Girdle (the Crois Bhrighde ).  Healing and Protecting Mantles (Bhrighde Bhrat) will be hanging in the branches all around our Clan's Nemeton.  Our clan family and guests will be told to take them home but leave them outside all night to fully impart the Blessings of Breo-Saighit...our much loved Fiery Arrow.

"A Brighid,
scars os mo chionn
Do bhrat fionn dom anacal?

[Trans: "O Brighid,
 spread over my head
your bright mantle 
to guard me?]

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown me,
No arrow of fairy, nor dart of fay shall wound me.

May the blessings of Brid of the Many Names
be with all of our Keltrian family as we collectively
join our Tree selves in the Great Work of awakening the Earth!
As was shared by our Matron


I put songs and music on the wind
before ever the bells of the chapels were
rung in the West 
or heard in the East.

I am Brighid-nam-Bratta (Brighid of the Mantle),
but I am also Brighid-Muirghin-na-tuinne (Brighid of the conception of the waves),
and Brighid-sluagh (Brighid of the immortal host),

Brighid-nan-sitheach seang (Brighid of the slim faery folk),
(Brighid of sweet songs and melodious mouth),
and I am older than Aona (Friday) 
and am as old as Luan (Monday).

And in Tir-na-h'oige (Land of the Ever Young)
my name is Suibhal-bheann (Mountain traveler);
in Tir-fo-thuinn (Country of the Waves)  
it is Cu gorm (Grey Hound);
and in Tir-nah'oise  (Country of Ancient Years)
 it is Sireadh-thall (Seek-beyond).

And I have been a breath in your heart.

And the day has its feet to it that will see me
coming into the hearts of men and women
like a flame upon dry grass,
like a flame of wind in a great wood...

May your hearts open with hope and joy like the first peeking flowers of the coming Spring!

Walk with Wisdom,
Eibhlean and GryphonSong Clan

Solitary practice: A full moon rite to Manannan

Solitary practice: A full moon rite to Manannan

by Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

Connecting with your Gods – whether it be your matron or patron, the Gods of the season or whomever you wish to work with at the time – is an important part of Druidic practice. And as a special blessing for solitaries, much of this connection must be made on your own time, rather than with a grove. Grove rituals augment your personal practice but cannot replace it; solitary work provides the spiritual depth and skill development that group ritual draws on.

In my experience, one of the best ways to foster such connection is to have a designated time and ritual to connect with your matron or patron. I have a vigil ritual I perform every 20 days in honor of my matron Brighid, as part of Ord Brighideach. For Manannan, my patron, I do a divination and/or trance-themed rite on the full moon.

“Why the full moon?” you may ask. “Isn't that Wiccan?” The reason I honor Manannan on the full moon is two-fold; first, and most importantly, He requested it. The second concerns his role as sea god; the moon is the puller of the tides, both oceanic and spiritual. Traditionally – and yes, the Wiccans are right about this part – it's an opportune time for magic and divination. Unlike Wicca, however, my full moon rite does not center around a moon/mother goddess, but on the god of the sea and liminality. Granted, one could conceivably honor Manannan on the dark moon as well, but the ritual would have a far different tenor; whereas the full moon is the time of peak flood-tide, the dark moon marks the deepest ebb.

The ritual below can be inserted into the typical Keltrian ritual structure, with the honoring of direction, opening of the Gates and honoring of the Gods, Nature Spirits and Ancestors. Much of the language is co-opted and occasionally reformulated from Alexander Carmichael’s [amazon_link id="0940262509" target="_blank" ]Carmina Gadelica[/amazon_link], that indispensable book of Scottish lore. I did use some from Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson’s compendium [amazon_link id="0140442472" target="_blank" ]A Celtic Miscellany: Translations from the Celtic Literature (Penguin Classics)[/amazon_link]. If I marked it, it’s borrowed from elsewhere. The working/trance invocation — the one that mentions the crane bag — is my own. The salt-water and sage purifications aren’t all that different from other Pagan traditions, probably; feel free to substitute whatever form of purification you feel comfortable with. Feel free to share with whoever is interested; it’s for public use.

Invocation (combination of 11th and 9th century Irish verse from A Celtic Miscellany):

The ocean is full, the sea is in flood, lovely is the home of the ships. The sandy wind has made eddies. The rudder is swift upon the wide sea…. Look before you at the glorious sea, home of creatures, dwelling of seals; wanton and splendid, it has taken of flood tide. Manannan, Lord of the Sea, of wave and of magic, of travel and journeys, of wisdom and truth, I honor you on this night.

Salt water blessing:

I cleanse myself with the salt and the water, with the waters of the sea, the realm of Mac Lir.

Anoint and sing, from the Carmina Gadelica:

A wavelet for thy form
A wavelet for thy voice
A wavelet for thy sweet speech
A wavelet for thy luck
A wavelet for thy good
A wavelet for thy health
A wavelet for thy throat
A wavelet for thy pluck
A wavelet for thy graciousness
Nine waves for thy graciousness.
May the spirit satisfy me with the water of grace.

Cleanse with smoke:

I cleanse myself with the flame and the herb, so that all that is ill is washed from me.

Waft and sing, from the Carmina Gadelica:

Ward from me every distress and danger
Encompass my course over the ocean of truth
I pray thee, place thy pure light before me
O Mananann on this very night
O Mananann on this very night
Be thyself the guiding star above me
May you light every reef and shoal
Pilot my boat on the crest of the wave
To the restful haven of the waveless sea
To the restful haven of the waveless sea

The working; use divination, scrying or trance. Sing:

May Manannan grant me
A glimpse of the crane bag
A glimpse of the mysteries
In the bag of secrets.
A glimpse of the Apple Isle
And its cup of truth
The isles of the Otherworld
And the swine at its feast.
Rattle the silver bough
To laugh, cry or sleep
To lead me on my journey
And to bring me home.

The divination/trance follows; use whatever you’re called to.

The return.

Ground and sing (from the Carmina Gadelica):

Bless to me, O Manannan
The earth beneath my foot,
Bless to me, O Manannan
The path whereon I go;
Bless to me, O Manannan
The thing of my desire
Bless to me, O Manannan
Bless me to my rest.
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my mind
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my love
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my hope
O Thou Lord of the Wave
May I be blessed in your eye.

Close with the standard Keltrian ritual format.

Celtic knotwork bar

Brighid’s Well: A Meditation

Brighid's Well: A Meditation

By Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

The following meditation is one that I frequently use for myself, as well as use in rituals for White Cat Grove. The central images are Brighid's well and the bilé, or sacred tree, upon which strips of cloth are hung. In Ireland, wells are sacred to Brighid – the goddess and later the saint – and the destination for pilgrims seeking healing even today. As Irish monk Sean O'Duinn notes in [amazon_link id="1856074838" target="_blank" ]The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint[/amazon_link], strips of cloth were frequently hung on the sacred trees located beside holy wells, perhaps as means to transfer illness away from the body.

On a practical note, solitaries performing the meditation can either record it themselves or, if more experienced, memorize the basic sequence of images and see where it takes them. I've included pauses for those who are reading the meditation to others. The best way to make sure the pauses are long enough is to go on the journey yourself, splitting your consciousness just enough to read and see at the same time.

Use whatever trance induction works for you. The one I use most frequently is descending a staircase into the Earth, with the stairs shifting from red to orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and then white before ending at the gate to the Otherworld. I use a frame drum as a trance “steed” or ritual tool; feel free to use your bell branch, a rattle or go without, as your spirit calls you.

Follow the beat of the drum, deeper and deeper into the Otherworld. (Pause.) Settle yourself under the Otherworldly Tree, the World Tree, the axis mundi that links the worlds within and without. Settle in and let yourself see or feel this tree; let your mind wander until the vision comes into focus. Let the drum guide you, focusing your attention. How does the tree appear to you? (Pause)

The tree is the starting place on our journey today. Breathe in and out, in and out. Standing beneath the tree, let your eyes skim the landscape of the Otherworld. What do you see? What sort of land lies before you? Is it day or night? What season is it? (Pause)

Today, we shall journey to Brighid's well, her holy well of healing. Call for a guide to come to you, speaking from the depths of your heart. (Pause) Who or what is this guide? Greet your guide and ask to be taken to the well. (Pause) Your guide begins to lead you there. Where does the road lead you, through what landscape, in what direction? Notice your journey, for the path has meaning in and of itself. (Pause)

You arrive at the well. See how it appears to you. Does it have the rough-hewn loveliness of nature, or has it been ringed by stones or decorated by human hands? Is it open to the sky, or covered by a roof – the thatch of the countryside or the majestic shaping of stone? (Pause)

On one side of the well, you see a tree decorated with ribbons and streamers of cloth. They are clooties, prayers to Brighid tied on its branches. What sort of tree is it? Look closely. (Pause) At its foot is a basket containing ribbons. Take one and notice its color. (Pause) If you feel moved, tie one on the trees branches to ask a prayer of Brighid. (Pause)

Now, we go to the side of the well for a prayer. If you wish it, your guide will offer a a ball of clay  for you to shape your prayer into or possibly a clay tablet to write on. You can shape the clay  into an image of a body part or person you wish to heal, or use a stylus to write your prayer on the tablet. Take some time to do this. (Pause)

Your guide beckons that it is time to go. Give your thanks to Brighid, the well, the tree, this holy place. (Pause) Follow your guide back along the path, back to the Otherworldly Tree where we began. (Pause) Take a moment to thank your guide. (Pause)

Now slowly open your eyes. Shake yourself out. Slap your cheeks, pull your earlobes and stamp your feet. Welcome back!