Monday, 27 October 2008

Local Goddess

Sitting on the riverbank and watching the sunset.
I daydream as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Watching the dancing rivulets of water, as the river flows
shining golden and sparkling in the evening light.

The river meanders on townwards.
The hungry river that has swallowed many a life
of people playing on this riverbank.
I wonder about those lives lost.
swallowed by this local deity.

I sit and look into the deep, brown water.
Thinking with sadness how those
who were dragged into these murky depths
must have felt.
And the heartbreak of those left behind.

Rising upwards with ferocious speed
she floods our little town.
We think we are the ones in control...
The waters break the riverbanks
and take, take whatever is in her path.

It is not to play without respect
with this local goddess who weaves her way
through our town.
For her power is awesome.
And she is ever hungry for more.

Helen Caladhiel.

Sunday, 12 October 2008


I have been asked what flamekeeping is and what doing a shift means and so I hope this explains what its all about.

I am a member of Ord Brighideach which is an order of flamekeepers. Each keeper tends a flame for 24 hours once every 20 days, although some people take more than one shift.

There are several cills that make up the ord and each cill is made up of 20 shifts, 19 shifts held by flamekeepers and the 20th shift being held by Brighid herself. Each cill is named after a tree and so people can contemplate the qualities of the tree if they want to along with whatever else they contemplate while they tend their flame.

At the basic level, a flamekeeper dedicates a candle to Brighid and keeps it lit in honour of her for 24 hours once every 20 days. However many people also pray, meditate and perform rituals in honour of Brighid during their shift time. I do a mixture of all of the above, some shifts I light my candle and it burns with the minimum of attention, at other times I pray and do ritual, or sit and contemplate the flame. 

At the moment, my flame is burning on my outdoor altar in a hurricane lantern and it will burn all night until sundown tomorrow. My flame is lit from the perpetual flame that burns in Kildare, and is passed on in the wick of a candle. I also burn my flame on my indoor altar. I have a beautiful wooden lantern on a table specially for this.

I also hold more than one shift and I am contemplating having a flame lit all the time since flamekeeping has become a major part of my spiritual path, although I'm not sure how that would work out, or even be possible or desirable. 

A quote from the website "We hope that through everyone's effort we will be sending forth into the universe an eternally tended flame for Brighid in the spirit of the historic Kildare flame."

Friday, 10 October 2008

Autumn Equinox

I am glad it is autumn.  This year has been difficult and so it is nice to feel it drawing to a close.  I decided to sort out the garden recently, as to say it had become overgrown is something of an understatement. 

One week before the equinox I decided to tackle the vast overgrowth and so I spent a great day outside chopping back all the hedges, taking out the weeds from the herb beds and generally sorting out what had become a huge mess.

That done I bought a chimenea from the garden centre and set to burning all the old, dried out branches etc from previous years.  I lit the fire with my Kildare flame and also put some dried herbs in the fire and did a Flamekeeping shift at the same time.

Once all the chopping was done I stopped and looked round. Lots of nice mud and a huge compost pile at the end of the garden, excellent.  Next, sorting out the overgrown herbs and cutting them back.  I brought in lots of wonderful smelling herbs and put them on my various altars, the house now smelt wonderful.

A week later and my parents came to visit. It was  the equinox that weekend, so I decided to make my herb circle into a living altar of sorts.  My dad helped me to make the circle  circular, as it was a bit of an odd shape,  geometry certainly not being one of my strong points.

One or two candles and a green man and goddess figure later and its done really, not that it needs the little figures, they are just nice for me to see. I burnt some nice incense too and acknowledged the time of year and sat and thought for a while.  I dont tend to celebrate the festivals with a ritual generally, somehow it just doesn't seem to work for me.

 This year it was lovely to be outside with family, building something special and celebrating of sorts, the closing of the year.