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To those in the Northern hemisphere, I hope you had a wonderful Lá Fhéile Bríde, Imbolc or St Bride’s Day, however you chose to celebrate. I too decided to celebrate on this day, although I am in the Southern hemisphere in a part of the world where the seasons are out of alignment with all of the Gaelic festivals. It is an issue I’ve been struggling with for many years, for celebrating Lá Lúnasa at the moment seems just as out of place, given that Summer is only just beginning. So, I asked Bride to give me some sign if she wished me to honour her feast on the eve of February 1st, and she obliged by unexpectedly getting everyone out of the house so I was free to honour her in privacy.

It was too hot to bake, so I gave offerings of milk and some very nice shortbread, as well as a new beeswax candle. I sained the house, each corner of each room with silvered water, inviting the blessings of Bride on our house, and made a simple bed for the small wooden doll of Bride that resides on my hearth-shrine year round. Next year I would like to weave a proper bed for her and perhaps a cros too, if I can get a hold of some decent material.

I have an open fireplace, but do not burn wood in it so in place of ashes I sieved some flour on the black hearth for divination in the morning. Last thing before bed I went to the front door and invited Bride in, whispering in to the night with my hands on the door jambs.

When I woke in the morning I took the offerings outside, bathed my hands and feet in the tiny amount of dew that had collected on the lawn, and returned to the hearth to look for signs of Bride’s visit. Sadly, there were no marks from her staff or feet, by I did find a single, golden hair curled in a perfect ringlet on top of the flour. Perhaps she did visit after all?

How did you celebrate Bride’s feast?

** When I wrote this I forgot to mention that I celebrated not on February 1st/2nd but a week before on the Gaelic New Moon (first crescent) which is tied, in my tradition, with the beginning of a new month.

Kilmeny

Bonnie Kilmeny gaed up the glen;
But it wasna to meet Duneira's men,
Nor the rosy monk of the isle to see,
For Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.
It was only to hear the yorlin sing,
And pu' the cress-flower round the spring;
The scarlet hypp and the hindberrye,
And the nut that hung frae the hazel tree;

Kilmeny, James Hogg