An Imbolc Journey
This is one of a series of calendar or seasonal 'imaginal journeys' which I devised over a long period, using as much authentic traditional material that I could find. For those not familiar with these journeys, it is essential before starting and when ending to "ground and centre" yourself. Usually the person taking you on the journey will lead you in this, and there are various ways of doing it; the key is to remain in contact with the earth; be sure before you start that you know where the earth is in relation to you, e.g., if you are in a high storey flat, imagine the building's framework going down to its foundation in the earth, and feel some part of your body actually on the floor, and connected to it. When coming out of the journey look around you and recall one by one the familiar people and objects in the room, and yourself among them, and again your immediate relationship to the earth. Have a 'feast' of grain and fruit, juice or wine.
So, going back to the start: close your physical eyes, and open the third eye of the mind:
You are among a group of women, dressed in long woollen robes, and scarves on their heads. You are walking on frosty ground and it is evening. You might be in the North of Scotland or in Ireland. There is an icy wind blowing but people take no notice of it, they are moving through the village towards a large bonfire in the centre of a field. You notice that the women in front of the procession are dressed in white robes and are carrying a statue or an image which sparkles. As you draw nearer you see that it is made from a sheaf of oats and is in the form of a woman. The women around you tell you that she is Brighde. She is decorated with brightly coloured shells, crystals, evergreens and snowdrops. The crystals sparkle as the firelight catches them, and also reflect the frost around you. As you walk among the crowd you notice that each woman has a small offering, perhaps a leaf or a feather or a stone, or pin, or brooch, something they have found or possess and you think of something that you too can offer.
Then you reach the fire and the white robed women are chanting. One of them comes forward, carrying a basket lined with rushes, and in it she places the Brighde figure. You all gather round the fire and the basket is carried round with the priestess stopping so that each woman may present her offering, placing it in the basket. When it reaches you, the priestess presents the Brighde figure to you in the basket and you place your offering in it. You may ask Her, imagining her in her Hag form, to let you shed the things you do not want to keep, the baggage which is inappropriate and unnecessary, the conflicts, pains, fears; then, in her new youthful form to help you achieve or become what you would wish. And you bless her in her triple form.
As the priestess passes on you see that all the people who have been presented with the basket follow her in procession and you go with them. When each person has offered, music starts and there is singing and dancing within the procession. Torches and candles have been lit from the fire and you realise it is midnight - a moment neither of the past nor of the future, linked to the eternal world of the Goddess which is always Now. The procession reaches the village, and stops at every house where each door is open, and has bunches of coloured ribbons attached to it. The women of the house, whether coming in from the procession, or from within the house, call out "Brighde your bed is ready" and the Goddess in her basket is taken into the house for a moment or two.
When you reach the house where you are staying your hostess takes the basket into the house, places it by the hearth and blesses it and offers it to you to hold inviting you to do the same. Then the basket is passed out again to the priestess who moves on, and your hostess tells you that the bright ribbons on the door are Brighde's ribbons and represent Her healing power. She presents you with one and says you must keep it with you all the year.
As you prepare to sleep, lying down wrapped in a rug or sleeping bag by the warm hearth, you hold the ribbon, and remember what you have asked Her to take away and what you want Her to help you find. Then you close your eyes, and resting, close the third eye of the mind. Eventually you open your physical eyes into the here and now, and into a new beginning.