The Cauldron of Inspiration with Brigit, the Lady of the Sacred Flame
February begins with a Sabbat that is usually celebrated on February 2nd. Although it has many names, it is usually referred to as Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced em-bowlg or immol’g) meaning “in the belly” (being pregnant with life) or Oimelc (pronounced oy-melk) meaning “ewe’s milk” (nourishing life). Other names for this day are Disting-tid (Norse), Laa’l Breeshay (Isle of Mann), and Candlemas (Saxon; “mas” meaning “feast”, not a Catholic word). As this is the day of Brigit, be she goddess or saint, this day is also called White Brigit’s Day, Feast Day of Saint Brigit (Irish) or Feast Day of Saint Blaise (an Armenian saint that has a King arthur connection and may be the goddess Brigit in disguise).
Brigit is the Goddess of Inspiration and the Lady of the Sacred Flame. As a goddess, she is usually referred to as Brigit, but after her demotion to sainthood, she was usually called Brigid. Brigit has many other names, but to keep things simple, I will continue to refer to her as Brigit here. Although her holiday falls at a time of the year where both light and warmth are waxing, her day is about the light, not the heat. This is expressed through candlelight, torchlight or firelight.
Fire has been considered sacred for thousands of years and the practice of tending it goes back to the Greeks and continued on to “Saint Brigid” and her “nuns”. Brigit’s lineage can be traced back to other goddesses with fire associations such as Juna, Minerva, artemis/Diana, Tanit (Lucifer or Lucia, the Son of the Morningstar Venus, not the Christian “Satan”), Hecate (they both have crossroads connections) and Hestia (Greek) or Vesta (Roman).
The Name Hestia or Vesta means “dwelling place”, as in the womb of the goddess, the cauldron or Holy Grail Cup, as she is the mother of the Sun God. Although her name came to mean “fire”, “Hestia” means “ a house” or “a dwelling” as it is derived from the word “hes” or “hese”, meaning “shelter”, “to protect” or “to show mercy”. Hestia to the Greeks and then after her Roman “adoption” as Vesta, was the goddess of domestic life and it was believe that she resided in every household, the reason for her shrines. She was also sometimes called Ashta, another name meaning “fire” and she was referred to the Goddess of Fire.
Fire was so sacred to the Greeks and Romans that select women were chosen to tend the sacred flame in temples built to Hestia/Vesta. In the time of the Romans, these were called Vestal Virgins. This practice was also found throughout history in other parts of the globe, sometimes because of the Collective Consciousness and sometimes from Roman occupation.
“In Scandinavia, the priestesses of Freya, who were generally kings’ daughters,
whose duty it was to watch the sacred fire, and who were bound to perpetual virginity,
were just an order of nuns. In Athens there were virgins maintained at the public expense,
who were strictly bound to single life. In Pagan Rome, the Vestal virgins,
who had the same duty to perform as the priestesses of Freya, occupied a similar position.
Even in Peru, during the reign of the Incas, the same system prevailed,
and showed so remarkable an analogy, as to indicate that the Vestals of Rome,
the nuns of the Papacy, and the Holy Virgins of Peru, must have sprung form a common origin. These were young maidens dedicated to the service of the deity,
who at a tender age were taken form their homes, and introduced into convents,
where they were placed under the care of certain elderly matrons, mamaconas,
who had grown grey within their walls. It was their duty to watch over the sacred fire. ”
From “The Two Babylons
Why were these young ladies, their occupation and the fire held in such high esteem?
“The fire of Vesta was regarded as one of the grand safeguards of the (Roman) empire.
(It) was kept with the most jealous care by the Vestal Virgins, who, for their charge of it,
were honored with the highest honors.”
From “The Two Babylons
So ingrained into the people’s psyche the importance of this sacred fire, that even after Paganism was outlawed in Rome, the temples survived and the practices remained.
“The “great serpent of fire” was cast out, when by the decree of Gratian,
Paganism throughout the Roman Empire was abolished-when the fires of Vesta
were extinguished, and the revenues of the Vestal virgins were confiscated…
How strong was the hold that Paganism had in the Imperial city,
even after the fires of Vesta was extinguished,
and state support was withdrawn from the Vestals;
but the Emperor yet spared the statues of the gods which were exposed to public view;
four hundred and twenty four temples or chapels
still remained to satisfy the devotion of the people.”
From “The Two Babylons
Brigit was no different than Vesta; history repeated itself, the fires were to be extinguished as they were in Rome, but the flames would burn on. Even after her “demotion” to sainthood, Brigit simply chose to evolve to survive. She became the first nun in Ireland and created a small community of seven virgins at Croghan Hill. Later it was said that she moved to a new location, into a cell at the base of an oak tree (oaks being sacred to the Druids). This tiny community grew into a nunnery and monastery, the famous center of learning at Kildare; or “cill-dare”, meaning “oak-cell”. Seven nuns grew to be 19 that tended Brigit’s flame and many daughter convents peppered Ireland from this original one.
In her goddess aspect, before her demotion, Brigit also had a cauldron (that she may have obtained form her father) and one of the jobs of what would become “nuns” was to tend to the flame beneath it. In many of his books, Raven Grimassi makes the case that many of the practices of the Celts actually come from the Greeks and Romans, and this is also one of them. The Greeks had nine muses, who among other things inspired humans, and Brigit originally had nine fire attendants and one of her powers as a goddess is to inspire humans. Brigit can do many things, but for the purposes of this spell, we will tap into the power of the Sacred Flame of inspiration.
If possible, perform this spell either at your hearth, but if you don’t have one, you can simply substitute your kitchen stove (the modern-day equivalent). Preferably perform this spell either on or as close to February 2nd as you can.
- Candle (color of your choice, to correspond with your need)
- Cauldron/fire-safe bowl
Either create Sacred Space or cast a Magick Circle in the manner of your own tradition.
Call to Brigit with this or another evocation:
“On this day of waxing light
Longer days and shorter nights
I call to Brigit, Goddess White
On this day of Your powers’ height.”
Light the candle after placing it inside the cauldron and say:
“As I light this candle fire
Lady of the Flame, please inspire.”
In your own words, speak to Brigit about the subject that requires her aid in inspiration. Perhaps like a Muse, she can inspire you to find a solution to a life-problem that is blocking you from moving forward. Perhaps she can lead you to a solution that will destroy your negative situation in a blaze of glory. Although this article has focused on Brigit in her flame aspect, she is also associated with sacred wells and streams, so perhaps Brigit could teach you to move like water; finding the path of least resistance or to crack a giant boulder simply by freezing within the cracks. If you have writer’s block or another kind or artistic block, ask Brigit to help you to move past it. Whatever your situation may be, simply pour your heart out to Brigit and ask for her help in finding the best outcome for all involved.
Mediate now on the light in the darkness, the candle in the cauldron, the life within the womb. With Her inspiration, you can plant a seed to grow in the coming season. During meditation, Brigit may give you the answer to which you seek. If not, do not worry, She may use a dream to get the message to you or you may get the message from a chance encounter in your daily life, so be vigilant as to what messages are coming your way.
To thank the Goddess Brigit:
When finished, if you feel so inclined, in gratitude to Brigit for Her help, you may wish to tend her flame as others have and still do. If this is not for you, please consider making a donation in Her honor. Although I didn’t cover it much here in this article, Brigit’s cauldron fed many and she was known for providing for those in need. You could do the same by making a food donation to either your local food bank or to the local animal shelter. Don’t worry if you have to make it a small donation due to your current state of finances if that is an issue for you; Brigit will see what is in your heart. After all, She is the flame that burns within all of our hearts.
Candlemas: Feast of Flames by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K
The Two Babylons or the Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and his Wife by the late Rev. Alexander Hislop