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."