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Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

Brigid’s Cloth

The beginnings of spring can be noted near the first of February if you pay close attention. Hours of light and warmth increasing each day cause seeds to begin stirring beneath the hard winter ground. The life force of the green world may even show itself with brave early shoots of crocus pushing through the snow.

The celebration of the emergence of spring is known as the Feast of the Flame or St. Brigid’s Day. The goddess Brigid was such a strong deity of the native people that when Christianity came to Ireland she was transformed into Saint Brigid. An old saying goes “Brigid breathes life into the mouth of dead winter.” She tends the fire of illumination as she melts the coldness of winter. Candles are lit in profusion celebrating the return of longer days and warmth.

Brigid’s Cloak is made of heavenly sunbeams. Sunbeams have been honored in many cultures as indications of Divine Presence in our lives. The custom of blessing Brigid’s Cloth on the eve of February First has been observed for generations in Celtic households.

On that night, take a piece of white unwashed cloth. Hang it outside where it can absorb the light of the sun, moon and stars for the night and the day. It was believed Brigid walked the earth during that time and would bless the cloth as she passed. Bring the cloth in and tear, do not cut, into strips. This is traditionally done by women and then stored in the thatch above the door of the cottage. I place my Brigid’s Cloth in a basket and hang it near the doorway.

Brigid’s Cloth can be used for healing, crafting, writing, or other works of inspiration. I’ve used the strips as prayer flags hanging from trees, placed under pillows, twisted around tools, as a collar on my dog Morgan. I’ve wrapped Brigid’s Cloth around body parts needing healing, bringing Brigid’s light, warmth and blessings.

One of her powers is guardianship of the land. When I pray for a place, I tie a Cloth strip in a tree and envision Brigid’s Cloak cast over the entire area. I ask her to wrap her Cloak around the land and all beings upon it as a protective and healing circle.

Aligned with the element of Fire to forge and mold, Brigid is the spirit of transformation, change and regeneration. She presides as midwife of the arts of poetry, healing, smithcraft. Feel her wise presence in moments of creativity and motivation. Her role as fire keeper and guardian of the hearth manifests daily at home through hospitality, cooking, and crafting, breathing new life into everyday activities.

The Feast of the Flame is a time to purify the physical, psychic and soulful strands of life to prepare for the coming year. Light your candles, hang your Brigid’s Cloth and make a prayer to the ancient Celtic Fire Goddess. “Help me breathe life into whatever is dead around me. Let your radiance shine in my life so that my actions may sparkle with the heavenly light the Creator of the Elements showers upon us.”

Check out Pat’s “Nature Chronicles” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship. Go to pattuholske.com. See her Wild Wreaths and Prayer Wheels crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com.

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