Each year, at the cross-quarter fire festival of Imbolc, I bring a large tree branch from the woods near our house, into the home, to use as a prayer tree. Imbolc is an ancient seasonal festival that celebrates the first stirrings of the earth and honors the Goddess Bridget. Her sacred day of Imbolc is February 2. Around here, we celebrate it through the entire month of February and on into March! (She is my other favorite Goddess!)
This year I asked my son, Seamus, to find the prayer tree for us. He chose a perfectly beautiful large branch. And now, after two months of being the recipient of so many songs, heart-felt prayers, gratitude offerings, and healing wishes, it is one of the most magically infused prayer trees in New Hampshire, I am sure!
In the corner, where we place the prayer tree, I also set up an altar draped in white fabric (Bridget's sacred color) and fabric containing Celtic knotwork. On it, I placed objects sacred to Her. At the base of the tree, I created a healing well for Bridget, as she is Goddess of the Healing Wells and of any place where three streams or other bodies of water, meet! I create the symbolic well out of many shimmering shades of blue fabric. Beside it, I place a pitcher of water and a goblet shaped like a bee-hive, for She is also known to have a sacred apple orchard in the Otherworld and Her bees go there to gather honey for Her.
Bridget is also a fertility Goddess. She is the Goddess of the herbalists and the poets and is a great inspiring force in my life.
This morning I dismantled the well, shook out the fabric off the side of the back porch, and placed my sacred Imbolc items into a special magical closet where I keep just these sort of things.
Over the last two months, women have come in and out of my home for ritual and ceremony, and for resting time at the monthly Red Tent we hold on the new moon. Seeking, praying, healing hearts and hands of many of these women have left offerings in the symbolic Bridget's Well. There are coins, jewelry, birch bark, carefully-folded notes, small candles, and crystals; and there are so many prayer ties on this tree! It is like a holy treasure!
Between today and tomorrow, I am going to find a home, near a small stream, in the forest, for this prayer tree and all the offerings that have been left in gratitude to Her, my favorite Irish Goddess, Bridget.
I am thinking about this prayer tree lying up against a larger, Mother tree, with it's strips of white cloth, ribbon, scarves, and lace, blowing in the wind, going back to the earth, slowly composting our prayers into the soft pine floor of the New Hampshire woods. This image fills my heart with the deepest gratitude to the Divine Feminine presence in my life; to the deepest love of the Earth, for her daughters and sons; to the Gods and Goddesses of magic, and creativity, and healing!
I'll be on a journey over the next two days and feel honored to do this sacred work. Spirituality and creativity infuse my daily life with magic, mystery, and joy. I feel a deep excitement that I am going out into the woods, like Artemis, with my prayer tree and bundle of offerings, at the turning of spring!
With Her Promise in my Heart!