Musings of a Hereditary Witch

The Need Fire of Imbolc/Brighid’s Fire

In ancient Ireland, all hearth fires would be extinguished and laid with fresh logs on Imbolc. A community fire would be built and presided over by the community leaders, most often Chieftains of the tribe. The fire represents the purification from the winter energy and a blessing from Brighid.

A young girl would be chosen to light a torch from the fire. In a procession, she would then go house to house with her torch. She would be welcomed in and praised as the embodiment of Brighid. The girl would then light the hearth fire and offer a blessing to the household.

On Imbolc morning I extinguish all fires in my home, from the gas heater (turning off the gas of course) to shutting off the breakers for the electricity.  Going out onto my patio, I take the Yule greenery, some juniper berries, candle for Brighid, bowl of sand, my flint and steal. On a stone paver, I pile a small amount of soft starter material like dried moss, lint, anything soft that will catch a spark. Next, I set up a simple ritual space and ask Brighid for her blessing and to grant me patience. Working with flint and steal isn’t always easy.

Taking the flint and steal, I begin striking them together, hoping to get one of the sparks to catch in the starter material. Once I get a spark to catch and a thin ribbon of smoke to rise, I blow gently on the spark, attempting to coax a flame from the ember. This doesn’t always work on the first try, hence asking for patience. When a small flame does catch, I slowly begin adding a few sprigs of left over Yule greenery, some juniper berries, a few twigs and leaves, until I have nice little fire going.

I meditate on what the fire represents to me: warmth, creativity, inspiration, light, life. There is something about the act of creating the Need Fire that speaks to a deeper part of my spirit. When I am ready, I light the candle from the fire. Then I extinguish the fire, by smothering it with sand. I leave everything to cool and open my ritual space.

Next, I take the candle inside and re-light the pilot lights (ok, I light a match from the candle and re-light the pilot light). Then I take the candle with me to the breaker box and hold it in front of each breaker switch as I turn them back on.

When I am through, I place the candle to my altar where it will sit burning all day. If the candle should burn too quickly, I will move the flame to another candle so it can continue to burn. All of my candles for my Imbolc ritual will be light from this Need Fire candle.

I would love to hear from anyone else who does this or if you do something similar for the fires of Imbolc.

Happy Imbolc/Brighid’s Fire

Note: You can purchase a flint & steel kit at a sporting goods store or just about anywhere they sell camping supplies. If you cannot find one, you can use a magnifying glass and hope for a sunny day.