Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Court of Brigid - journal

On Friday of the Summerland Festival 2011 L. and I worked the Court of Brigid working for a group of about 35. This was the first public working of the rite, and the first time that I had applied some of the spirit-arte principles in a public group rite intended to allow contact with specific spirits. In the past I have often offered spirit-contact workshops intended to allow alliances with personal ‘familiars’ from the Land-wights and the Dead. This is the first time I’ve done a general group ‘prospecting’ rite, intending to compile a list of spirits.

This, I was a bit nervous on approach. Like any piece of performance, there’s a certain risk of personal dignity involved – I’m laying out both my ideas and my skill as an enchanter for public examination. So a certain amount of flop-sweat comes with the territory. On another level, I intended to open roads for a group of festival guests with very little attention to the purification and preparation of the individuals involved. I felt a degree of concern about all that, as well.

I attempted to assuage both levels of concern. We had held a preliminary workshop and simple prep meditation the evening before, so at least some guests had a clue. The group that showed up did include a number of the skilled, experienced folks that I had hoped would be there, and I’m sure that the success we had depended largely on that fact.

I got to the rite early and was well set-up before guests arrived. I was a little worried about the excellent weather making the sacrifice ground rather too sunny, but fortunately the shade was over most of the space by the time the rite began. There’s little more counterproductive than hot bright sun on the face when you’re working into trance.

The crew arrived promptly, and we began on time. Rather than processing into the pace we simply did an intonation, followed by a chime and proclamation of the rite. L. and I worked through the ordinary portions of the Order of Ritual (this was done in the ADF style) which flowed quickly. I felt as if the additional banishing and securing (compared to our usual worship liturgy) was being effective, and certainly felt the presence of MacLir and his sword of protection over the Grove.

The ability of the group to communicate with the spirits would depend on their ability to enter trance and perceive what I refer to these days as the Threshold Realm. This is the visualized inner environment, usually at least partially conscious construct but also partaking in the spontaneity of dreams, in which magical vision begins. Since we weren’t ‘journeying’ anywhere I didn’t expect the extra-deep trance of efforts to move into the deeper places to be needed.

I think my trance-guidance worked ok. I tried a couple of newish tricks, including mixing short segments of guiding speech in-between the verses of the Charm of the Threshold. Students working with the Nine Moons will eventually become somewhat conditioned to enter trance by reciting the charm, but I can’t expect that of a festival crowd. The entrancement process began before the rite, with suggestions leading toward confidence and resourcefulness, then was given the first formal induction in the Two-Powers centering during the opening. Following the Gates the Threshold Charm was the first formal call for the Inner Eyes to open. This was followed by a short, pro-forma preliminary offering to the Three Kindreds then straight into the invocation of the Goddess.

If I were to rewrite this I might choose to make a bigger deal out of the distinction between the Wights and the Dead in the Court of Brigid. It has been made clear to me that both human Dead and the various landwights may be present in the Sidhe-host. Of the spirits who answered the rite’s calling some seem clearly to be the Dead, while others are less determinate. There could be a case made for making the presence of the two distinct types in a god’s court more clear.

The calling to the Three Powers of Brigid went well, in my experience. I chose to invoke these three beings as a kind of ‘archangel’ to be intermediary between the Goddess herself and the host of spirits. The response I felt during the rite was very positive, and I intend further work with those powers. In this version of the rite the Three Powers were offered to during Key Offerings. So, once all that had been done it was time to take the omen.

So, I had discovered that my set of ogham lots was one short. Damn, blessed little cats – but my fault for leaving it laying on the shrine… L had hers but she thinks its tattered (it is, in fact) and I was hoping to get a new one, perhaps, at festival. Fortunately, Jean Drum had sets made from lightning-struck oak! A little annotating and a new bag later, and I was back in the omen business.

In the flop-sweat dept., taking the omen at a big rite is always a little scary. The funny thing is that I have come to trust the spirits and the system. If the rite is well-done the omens will be good. These were our three lots:
Dair: The Oak – Strength, law, rightness. Always a good omen for Druids.
Onn: Foundation/Wheel – Gorse, Movement, means of advancement
Nion: Letters/Support – Ash, Connection, weaving together.
With Oak leading the way, I interpreted the other signs to say that we were ready to weave our connection with the spirits of the Court of Brigid.

My adaptation of the ADF Order of Ritual for this work used the ‘blessing’ as a spell both to call the minor spirits of the Court and to enchant the eyes of the group. It’s common in Gaelic lore to use a potion or anointing to grant vision of the Sidhe, so we first convoked the general-purpose Host of Her Court, and then hallowed the Blessing Bowl. To distribute the blessing we directly anointed the hands of each, and they then put their hands to their eyes to place the blessing on their sight. Each individual got a direct anointing, but we were able to speed along pretty well, and I don’t think anyone waited too long. I also think that the trance guidance did in fact crescendo to this point, with the sensory cue of the cool water of the Blessing the final goad to send folks deeper into Threshold vision.

Following the blessing, there was then the period of first sight of the host of spirits, and the Oath. In an individual calling of spirits the Drui would extract an oath of peace and cooperation directly from the specific spirit that was called. In these group rites, and in general if ‘prospecting’ for a crowd of spirits, I have developed the method in the script, of reciting the oath and requiring that all who do not abide by it depart. Thus far it seems to produce a cooperative body of spirits from which to draw alliances. The participants reported a departure of spirits that made sense to them during the Oath.

We all recited the Welcome to the Spirits together, which contains elements of both a traditional welcome and charge. I then led a final round of focusing guidance, and after some silence asked whether someone present had met a spirit who would speak with us.

The instructions had been that once the vision was established, those who felt able were to seek to meet a specific spirit. We were looking for spirits who would be willing to aid ‘the magicians of Ar nDraiocht Fein’, and certainly the folk gathered there. Seers were to seek first a name to which the spirit would answer, what abilities the spirit had, or in what works it could aid, and what offering it would ask in return for its work. Of course all these spirits called were of the Court of Brigid and we rather expected them to serve that goddess’ goals.

I might have sought more detail from each spirit. I should, I think have been more explicit about seeking a description of appearance, though gender and general appearance was plain for each. I might also have asked what sort of spirit they were, whether of the Dead, or of one of the Other kins. We got snippets of all that anyway.

My own trance state was focused on the big picture in the rite. I was still directing, calling “who else has a spirit?” I made it my business to hold the big model of the work in vision – especially the goddess in her central enthronement, and secondarily the Three Powers. I myself ended up seeing the spirits only in a shadowy way, though they would become more visible by reflection as they were described.

The Archdruid was the first to respond, with a clear and simple description of a Cupbearer of the Cupan’s court. That opened the way, and there was a steady slow flow of vision. L. served as the scribe, writing the data down, once spirit per page, in a blank book of rough brown paper. It would have been sensible to have more than one scribe, though by working one at a time most of the spirits were described audibly to the whole group. As it was I limited the collection of names to nine spirits during the actual rite, and encouraged those with more to come up afterward. Another seven were given in that way, for a total of sixteen names recorded.

The closing of the rite seemed to go well. I did not add any huge ‘banishings’ to our usual Order, simply giving the license to depart along with the other round of thank-yous done to all categories of spirits.

After the rite folks were buzzing with the juice. Fortunately it was off directly to dinner and a drink for the event, so grounding was encouraged. A couple of folks displayed intense emotional reactions, though only one reported a vaguely negative vision, characterized by featureless dark and a sense of threat. By morning no one reported any difficulties.

One of the concepts current in spirit work is that the spirits who present themselves to magicians have, as one of their desires, to grow in fame. BY aiding mortals they gain renown for their name, receive more offerings and become more present in the world. Now, one might suppose that not all spirits care about that – no matter, it’s the ones who do that are willing to help us. So, after some consideration I publish here the names and basic notes of each.

Spirits of the Court of Brigid: These are the spirits that answered the calling and revealed themselves to our seers:
• Heal-fetch (Cneasaigh Beir): Young woman/teenage girl, member of the court of the Cupan Brigid. Cup-bearer of healing liquid. Asks for an offering of milk
• Fionna: appeared as a beautiful young maiden; Brings the gift of joy, asks only for the expression of joy as her offering.
• Sirona: Female figure bearing a cup and quill; brings the healing power of music; offering is to be a verse of thanks, burnt to her with sweet-smelling herbs.
• Corum: Gentle male figure; Helps bring dreams and inspirations into manifestation.
• Mendahlyn: Female; brings healing of financial illness/wounds, provides sufficiency moreso than wealth; gift of silver coins for offering.
• Tabar of the Forge; male wearing helmet, standing at the point of the anvil; helps us forge our gifts and wishes; asks fire as an offering
• Ehnnie; female gathering flowers; comforts with flowers those who are about to pass into death; offer her flowers.
• Mikel; male; bears messages and enchantments; aids in fine metalwork; offer components of metalwork.
• Gredda; female; gives the gift of smithcraft, especially of silver and fine craft; offer silver.
• Old Man (Fear Sean); Giver of gifts; wants song for an offering.
• Enach; older woman; brings wisdom, offer crystal
• Keimh; male, childlike yet like an old farmer; brings vitality to the forge and heart; offer charcoal
• Theala; plump woman; gives peace, vitality and joy to the hearth – full stomach and good times; offer bread and ale.
• Hanish; male with odd hands and clear eyes; gives the strength to see truth and speak it without fear; offer aromatic smoke
• Temper; young woman; brings precision, proper application of energies for making magical tools; offer iron.

• Cionnacht (or Ceannacht) ;male spirit wearing white feathers. Tends the Eastern Bellows, can increase energy for work ("more bellows"); offering of iron or white feathers.

The next step will be to create a sigil for each, using Fionn’s Window. It will then be up to individual mages to call on these powers and test their strength and ability. Each spirit should be able to reveal spells and methods to channel their power into the world, and work one’s will. Since we began with the Court of one of the kindliest and most arts-centered of the Gaelic gods we don’t have a lot of flashy intents on this list. Still, I think there’s enough practical stuff to be able to put them to work. I’ll post more on that process as we go, including models for simple conjurings to call these spirits in order to find out more, or put them to work. May we all be blessed by it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Court of Brigid - ritual text

I'm back from the Summerland Gathering, and the Court of Brigid working was a good success. We had contacts with several spirits, and began a list of those who were willing to work with us. I'll be compiling and posting that later, with a more complete journal of the work. First I want to put up the full text of the rite posted mainly for archival purposes and because some of the participants wanted to have it.

The Court of Brigid - A Druidic Spirit Working
The Nemeton is arranged with the usual hallows. At the foot of the Bile the image of Brigid is set, with sufficient room to receive the abumdant offerings. Offerings are prepared as in the text, for both Brigid and the Cumhachtai, and a general offering bowl of oil or incense is also present. The presiding Druids sit at the Hallows, and all sit ranged around them in a horseshoe, allowing all to see the forst of the shrine.
Props List
Hallows; Brigid Image; Harp, Hammer, Cup; Book of Spirits; ogham set
Earth Mother: corn.grain
Outdwellers: ale
Hallows: Trove, Oil, incense & sprinkling bowl
Kindreds: oil for all
Brigid Offerings: Milk, Bread, Ale, Silver, Bronze, iron, ogham wand, herbs, incense
Tri Cucmachtai: crystal, incense, whiskey
Blessing Bowl: Vervain, Crystal, Silver
Binding: Oak, Rowan, Hazel

1: Opening the Grove
a: Earth Mother
b: Inspiration
c: Outdwellers
d:Statement of Purpose
We have come to do as the wise ancients did, to make offering to the powers and to seek an alliance with the spirits. We come to make offering to Brigid an Ardhaon, the High One, Lady of Skills, hearth-woman of Water and Fire. We come especially to seek allies among her noble court, three queens, three Powers of the Court of Brigid, and those noble ones who will work with us in our wise arts. Hear us, Noble Ones, and behold us, for we seek to make pact with you. This we do that we may grow in health, and wealth and wisdom, in wisdom, love and power, in service to the spirits, to the folk and to my own being. To those ends, let us hallow this Sacred Grove.

e: Honor the Three Hallows
Offer silver into the cauldron, saying:
In the deeps flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred Well, flow in our Grove and in our hearts. O Eye of the Deep, be as a Spring of welcome to the spirits, a source of peace and comfort.
Make an offering to the Fire, saying:
I feed the sacred fire in wisdom, love and power. Sacred Fire, burn in our Grove and in our hearts. By this Fire I claim this place for our own magic, and invite the spirits to this fire.
Sprinkle and cense the world-tree, wand or self, saying:
From the deeps to the heights spans the world-tree. Sacred Tree, grow within me. Be you the Pillar of the World, the peg that holds fast the Ways Between.

f: Purification Cleanse all with Water and Fire, saying:
By the might of the Water and the light of the Fire,
This Grove is made whole and holy
Spread your hands and face the east, and encompass the whole shrine in your awareness, saying:
Let the sea not rise, and all ill turn away.
Let the sky not fall and all ill turn away.
Let the land hold firm and all ill turn away.
Before us bounty, behind us wisdom
On the right hand magic, on the left hand strength
Thus is the Sacred Grove Claimed and Hallowed!

2: Opening the Gate
In every place where Triads meet, there is the Center of the Worlds. Let this sacred center be the boundary of all worlds, that our voices be carried and our vision see.
• O Manannan Mac Lir, Grey God of the Mists, Lord of the Isle of Apples, Teacher of the Wise, we make this offering to you (make offering of Offering Oil). Attend us in this work, Son of the Boundless, as you attended the Tuatha De in their magics. Watch and ward the Ways between as we call the Cumhachtai Brigid. Hold open the gates; stretch your sword, Retaliator, over this Fire that no ill may come to us for as long as this gate is open.
Make a deosil triskel or spiral over the Fire, saying:
Let this Fire open as a gate,
and let no harm come from the Sky;
Let this Well open as a gate,
and let no harm come from the Deep;
Let this Tree be the Crossroads of all worlds,
and let no harm come upon the Land.
• Open as an eye of seeing
Open as a mouth of speaking
Open as an oaken door,
between this Sacred Center and the Otherworlds.
• Now, by the Gatekeeper’s might and by my magic,
By Fire, Well, and Tree,
by Land, Sky, and Sea,
by Gods, Dead, and Sidhe –
Let the Gate be Open!

With the Gates open, we turn our minds to Magic... renew your center... Earth below and Sky above... feel the currents of light and dark... flowing in our flesh, and in the Grove... as we recite the Charm of the Threshold, to open the Inner Eye:
Between Fire and Water, we find our balance
We feel the Waters beneath, the Fire Above... they meet and flow within us... and from their merging rises the Mist of the Between...
From the Union of Fire and Water the Mist rises
Rising to surround and encompass... as the common world fades... and the Sacred center becomes bright...
Let the Mist carry me, and my Eye of Vision open
as our Fire becomes the Great Fire... our Well the Great Well... our simple pillar the bole of the World-Tree... and we behold the shining Gates of the Otherworld...
Let the Eye lead me, and my vision be clear and true
Let my Vision enchant me, with the sorcerer’s sight
Eye of Vision, eye of flesh, let me see clearly
See the Mist draw back... surrounding on every side... and be present in the Threshold Vision... on the Edge of the Land of Spirits... whether your eyes are closed or open... the Threshold is before you...
That the Work of the Wise be done.

3: Honoring the Kindreds
Now to my Sacred Fire I call the Threefold Kindreds, spirits all
All our allies among the Dead, Mighty and Beloved Ones,
stand strong with me in my work,
And receive this offering.
(make the offering)
All our allies among the Sidhe, Red blood, green sap or Spirit Folk, join us in our rite,
And receive this offering.
(make the offering)
All my allies among the Gods, Wisest and Mightiest Ones,
I pray that your power burn and flow in me
So, receive this offering.
(make the offering)
Hear us, kin, allies and elders, I pray, and make your wisdom open to us, your love flow with ours, your power strong in us, that we may do the work of the Wise.
In the Mother’s Love be welcome.
In the Joys of Life be welcome.
In this Sacred Grove be welcome.
And accept our offerings!

4: Invocation of Brigid

a: Trance Eidolon
Now let the Gate be as a window to our vision... opening to reveal the Otherworld... and let us behold the blessed and mighty one, Brigid an Ardhaon... she is seated in beauty and wonder, in a nimbus of nineteen colors... shining and arrayed around her... flowing and changing, emerging from a white-gold brightness at their center... at that Center the High One is seated... clothed in the colors of the sky... day-blue flows with night-star-black... with the colors of the earth curling up the hem of her garment... ornaments of mirror-silver and bright gold adorn her, reflecting the flow of colors... and at the center is the face of the goddess...
See the eyes of the goddess Brigid... gaze into them, whether or not they see you yet... see her features, her gentle smile... her body is thick and strong... in her lap she holds a silver cauldron, filled with a healing brew, that bubbles with the heat of Her Fire... in her right hand she holds a great smith’s hammer of black iron, and in her left hand she bears a small harp of nine strings, that fills the air around her with a simple music...
You approach the goddess... and she towers above you on her seat... let your vision rest in her... as we make our invocation...

b: Invocation
• Brigid of the mantles, Brigid of the hearth fire,
Brigid of the twining hair, Brigid of the auguries
Brigid of the fair face, Brigid of the calmness
Brigid of the strong hands, Brigid of the kine
• Brigid, friend of women, Brigid, fire of magic
Brigid the foster mother, Brigid woman of wisdom.
Brigid the daughter of Danu, Brigid the triple flame.
Each day and each night I call the descent of Brigid.
• That the power of healing be within us,
That the power of poetry be within us,
That the power of shaping be within us,
In earth, sea and sky and among all kindreds.
• Kindle your flame in our heads, hearts and loins,
Make us your cup, your harp, your forge,
That we may heal, inspire and transform,
All in your honor, Brigid font of blessing.
• So we call you, Brigid na Ardhaon, High one, to be present in this image as you are present in our Grove.
See through these eyes, hear with these ears
Speak in our hearts, and receive these offerings
Chorus: Gaeilge charm recited after each offering:
Brigid above us, Brigid below us,
Brigid at every airt about us.
Brigid in our truest heart
Bríd thuas linn, Bríd thíos linn, Bríd maidir linn;
Bríd inár gcroí
• Milk I give, because you succor those in need.
• Bread I give, because you bring strength in bounty
• Ale I bring; because you bring inspiration and delight
• Silver I give, because you bring beauty,
• Bronze I give because you bring skill,
• Iron I give; because you bring magic, and strength
• I offer this Ogham Wand,
because you bring the knowledge of poets.
• I offer these herb-flowers,
because you bring knowledge of the green,
• I offer this incense, because you drive away all ill.

d: Audience-charm
The Vision is strengthened, saying:
So, behold the High one, seated here in the mortal world in this simple image... her rainbow garment all around her... and see her eyes turn toward you... her smile become wider... perhaps she extends a hand... as we say:

The worlds are in me, and I am in the worlds
The spirit in me is the spirit in the worlds
Holy One I set my eyes upon you – set your eyes upon me.
Holy One I behold your face – behold you my face
Holy One I behold your heart – behold you my heart
Holy One I behold your hands – behold you my hands
I am your worshipper,
Shining Brigid, High One,
Hear me, and accept our sacrifice!

5: Calling the Tri Cucmachtai Brid:
Hold the Wand as a scepter beside or before you, as you conjure:
In the power of Brigid na Ardhaon
I call to the Servants of Brigid.
Shining Lady of Skills, send to us your heralds, your ministers, your powers, that we may make alliance.
Come with the Wind and Cloud I call, from the Court of Brigid, you Three Powers, you who dwell in Isles of Wonder.
Come in the Moon and Sun I call, and in the shimmering light of Stars, in the warm and the cool, and the rays of the heavens that bless the worlds.
• We call to the Clairseach Bríd - the Harp of Brigid. Oh you who bear the inspirations of the Poet, the true tongue and the Magic Aires, reveal yourself. Let your face and form appear, arrayed in wonder beside your Queen.

Come, power come, by Brigid’s name:
teacht, cumhacht, teacht, de réir ainm Bríd
• We call to the Cupán Bríd - the Cup of Brigid. Oh you who bear the draughts of the Healer, for woman and of man and of children all, reveal yourself. Let your face and form appear, arrayed in wonder beside your Queen.
Come, power come, by Brigid’s name:
teacht, cumhacht, teacht, de réir ainm Bríd
• We call to the Casúr Bríd - the Hammer of Brigid. Oh you who bear the strength and sorcery of the Smith, who shapes by Fire and Water, reveal yourself. Let your face and form appear, arrayed in wonder beside your Queen.
Come, power come, by Brigid’s name:
teacht, cumhacht, teacht, de réir ainm Bríd

• Final Sacrifice
I call with the voice of the Cauldron of Wonder, I call with the voice of the Hearth of Welcoming. Oh Brigid, Oh great Servants of the High One, answer this calling.
To you, O Noble Ones, I make these offerings:
Crystal, of the Wealth of the Earth
Sweet smoke, of the Beauty of the Earth
Whiskey, of the Delight of the Earth.
And by these gifts I offer you welcome.
Come to my fire, Oh Three Powers of Brigid.
Fáilte a chur roimh, trí Cumhachtaí Bríd.
Come to my call, and accept my sacrifice!
Final offering is given, with meditation on the presence of Brigid.
Omen is taken and interpreted.

6: Conjuring the Court
a: Group agreement
Hear me now, Children of Earth. We are come together here in the light of the Blessing of Brigid, to seek alliance with her servants. Is it your will that we gain these alliances?
Let those who seek to gain those alliances for themselves speak - is it your will?
Is it the will of all that these alliances be made in blessing, and for the good of all being?
Then let us call the spirits.
Vision of the Three Powers strengthened.
• So, Oh, Servants of the High One, we come before you to do the work of the wise, to re-weave the old patterns, to make pact between mortals, and the Court of Brigid, in her name.
So we ask that those gathered here receive your blessing, and let the hosts of your tribes be visible to our vision.
• Let this Blessing Bowl bear the power of the Powers, the holy might of the Tri Cumhachtai Brid.
• By Vervain be blessed by the Cupan Brid, that the spirits of healing see and know us.
• By Crystal be blessed by the Clairseach Brid, that the spirits of the Poet’s way see and know us.
• By Silver be blessed by the Casur Brid, that the spirits of the smith’s magic see and know us.
• Now by this blessing we conjure the spirits of the Court of Brigid. By word and heart and hand we call to those who serve the servants, you spirits who will come to our fire and treat with mortals.
• Come from the Soil and Stone I call, all you who serve the High One, and from the Green crown of the Land, from holds beneath hills, from green halls and the pools and wells.
• Come with the Wind and Cloud I call, and from the deep Sea, all you who troop and fly and sing, you whisperers and cloud-kin, you who dwell in Isles of Wonder.
• Come in the Moon and Sun I call, and in the shimmering light of Stars, in the warm and the cool, and the rays of the heavens that bless the worlds.
• Come without malice, come in a fair form, come in peace and without any harm to me or to mine, neither in body or mind or spirit, neither in health or wealth or wisdom.
• By Four Winds and Nine Waves
By the World Tree’s root and branch
By the Four Treasures and the Crown of Don
By Fire’s Light and Well’s Might
• Where this blessing falls, let the spirits who will work with us reveal themselves.
• Where this blessing falls, let the eyes of vision be made open and clear.
• Where this blessing falls, let all be protected by the Cloak of the High One.
• Oh spirits, reveal yourselves with this blessing!
The blessing is distributed, with all reciting the phrase
“Let my eyes be open and the spirits appear”

7: The Binding
When all are blessed, there is a period for the spirits to gather, then the binding and oath are given:
Nine times round be nine times bound
The Poet’s binding;
The Seer’s binding;
The Sorcerer’s binding;
The Oak binding;
The Rowan binding;
The Hazel binding.
The binding of the Gods Above;
The binding of the Gods Below;
The binding of the Gods of This Green World.
Now give me your oath, I ask.
By my will I would make pact with you. Let no harm be worked against me or mine, whether in mind, body or spirit, in my health or my wealth or my wisdom; by day nor by night, in winter nor in summer, on land or in the sea or in the sky, or in places between. Stand with me by these words, or turn now away, and go!
(Wait a moment, see if the spirit departs) So be it! I take your presence for an Oath, which you swear to all I have said. If you do not swear, depart! (Wait again, then make an oil offering, saying:) Nine blessings upon you with this offering!
Pause for a time as the spirits gather...

8: Treating With the Spirits
Again seek confirmation in conversation or by divination that the spirit is present, and give the Welcome to the Spirit:
Slainte agus failte, a sprideana nemed! Hail and welcome, to you who have come at our call. We are the Druids of Ar nDraiocht Fein - Fire Keepers, Singers and Shapers, and you have come to our fire at our will and word. Therefore know us as allies, and as Noble Ones among you. Give to us the Druid’s Rights, to come and go freely among the Spirits. We give you this offering, so that we may work together. Now speak with us, we ask, before this sacred Fire...

Sharpen your vision eye... empowered by the Blessing of the Three Powers of Brigid... and behold the gathered crowd of spirits... the courtiers of the Court of Brigid... called by our offerings, under the authority of the Goddess and her Powers... speak with them in your heart... ask, perhaps, what elements are of their nature... what kind of boons they can grant, and what works aid in... asking for a name and sign... who will stand forth to speak with you...

If you wish, you may speak with one of these spirits... one who will answer you... in peace and kinship... To learn its name... to ask it what powers it can bring... what works are in its power to perform...

If there are those to whom the spirits are revealing themselves, speak if you will, for our scribes to write down the names of the Spirits...

9: The Closing
as usual but with great gratitude and care.
• Once all is complete, recite the License to depart
• The License to Depart
Depart now, friends, O, Courtiers all, O Cumhachtai Brigid, and remember your oath. Come when we call you, or send your servants in peace with harm to none, and we will make to you due offering.
Cumhachtai Brid - we thank you!
• Thanking & Ending

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Court of Brigid - phase two.

OK, I’m always likely to get in trouble announcing my ideas in a flurry of enthusiasm. Having actually written the rite for this working, I find that I must scale back my expectations. I won’t really have a captive audience of occult monks, and I’ll be constrained somewhat by the festival conditions. Thus, I’ve scaled back the level of detail. Good thing too, because the final rite is still detailed enough.

I’ve reduced the number of Powers of Brigid that will be called to three. Here are the short invocations used in the rite:

Trí Chumhachtaí Bríd • We call to the Clairseach Bríd - the Harp of Brigid. Oh you who bear the inspirations of the Poet, the true tongue and the Magic Aires, reveal yourself. Let your face and form appear, arrayed in wonder beside your Queen.
Come, power come, by Brigid’s name:
teacht, cumhacht, teacht, de réir ainm Bríd • We call to the Cupán Bríd - the Cup of Brigid. Oh you who bear the draughts of the Healer, for woman and of man and of children all, reveal yourself. Let your face and form appear, arrayed in wonder beside your Queen.
Come, power come, by Brigid’s name:
teacht, cumhacht, teacht, de réir ainm Bríd • We call to the Casúr Bríd - the Hammer of Brigid. Oh you who bear the strength and sorcery of the Smith, who shapes by Fire and Water, reveal yourself. Let your face and form appear, arrayed in wonder beside your Queen.
Come, power come, by Brigid’s name:
teacht, cumhacht, teacht, de réir ainm Bríd
Once these major daemons (or Nobles of the Daoine Sidhe, as you like) are invoked and offered to, the Blessing Bowl will be hallowed, asking that the crowd have their vision-eyes opened to the Host of the Court of Brigid. The lesser spirits will be conjured, only those willing to work in safety being welcomed, and there will be time for the folk to see them, speak with them and perhaps to call out what they see and who they meet. I hope to have scribes to write down at least some of the names of spirits. In this way I hope to begin acquiring a ‘catalog of spirits’, of the families and lineages willing to work with our Druidic magicians.

So, I think I have this carved into a manageable rite. It remains a big experiment, but I hope we can generate some powerful and valuable experiences.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Court of Brigid – a Druidic Spirit-Working

Having fairly recently completed a round of preliminary magical work, I have been feeling my juju oats. I have been looking around for (or waiting for inspiration about) ways to apply the insights I have gained in community and festival ritual. I have come to a plan, and am preparing to work it for the first time at the upcoming Summerland Gathering.

I have worked with festival ritual circles many times over the years. Even before my involvement in ADF I was attempting rites at Starwood that I called “Celtic Theurgy”. These were attempts to bring real, traditional magic arts to a festival audience, using ritual baths and preliminary visualizations, focused trance-work and theurgic invocation. Later, in ADF festival rites, I have done a number of workings intended to allow participants to make alliances with spirits of the Landwights and the Dead. These have often resulted in powerful experiences, and I know that a number of folks who did those rites work with allies from them to this day.

Traditional magicians may be concerned at the notion of working high-end (even middle-end) rites with a chance-chosen group of festival Pagans. I remain concerned myself, and take every measure to approach the work with care and piety. However, working inside a relatively focused mythic and ritual system such as ADF’s, at a gathering almost exclusively composed of members, helps a lot. Also good is that the magical skill-level of our membership has been generally increasing, thanks to more work by members on our basic and intermediate training programs. Those don’t let you get by without some skill at ritual, trance and vision. So in the case of the forthcoming working, I expect (hope) to have interested parties with some skill to help center the work. My experience is that if there is sufficient real magic occurring, even casual attendees can find themselves carried with the current toward good, valuable experiences.

The new working is called the Court of Brigid. It is a theurgic invocation of the Gaelic goddess Bríd an Ard-hAon, Brigid the High One, leading to a calling of nine daemons of that goddess. In those nine we seek spirits who will work with us as Druid magicians, helping us to accomplish our various works, all under the authority of the Goddess of Arts and Hearth. These active spiritual agents of the Goddess are not to be conceived of merely as ‘aspects’ of her, but rather we will seek to make alliance with specific living spiritual beings who aid the goddess, and are willing to aid us in her name.

I continue to cast about for the proper Irish term for a lordly messenger and independent agent of one of the Gods. I conceive such beings as noble members of the Court of the Sidhe, in the service of Brigid. As such they are indistinguishable, at base, from a Hellenic Daemon. I love the phrase ‘daemon of Brigid’ but my long aversion to mixing cultural elements so freely makes that unworkable. Presently I’m tending toward the term ‘Power’ as in ‘a Power of Brigid’. I find the term culturally neutral-to-positive, gender-neutral, with implications of magical might. I also like the direct transference from the tantric term ‘shakti’, meaning ‘power’ or ‘active ability’. Thus, I think I will refer to these spirits under the title Cumhachtaí Bríd – Powers of Brigid. An individual Power might be Cumhacht Casúr, the Power of the Hammer.

I mean to work this in a group ritual environment, using multiple seers in a group-vision. I will function as ‘Druid In Charge’, and also as the chief enchanter, assisted by L. Group participation will be high, focused on building the requisite vision, with simple litany recitation to focus attention and aspiration. Since this is a holy working, seeking only the blessed agents of one of our most beloved goddesses, we will not be using a circle, nor separating ourselves from the presence of the Nine Powers of Brigid. Care will be taken in the framing rites to place extra safeguards on the sacrifice ground and participants, with good purifications. The Gatekeeper in especially important to that effort and special invocation will be made to keep the Gates well-warded.

The rite will be open to all participants at the event, but I will be asking for those who wish to actively see and speak as seers to be sure to do the preparatory work. The preparatory discussion and preliminary vision will be held a day before the working, to let the ideas percolate prior to the rite.

I’ll post more here as I clarify the actual wording and detail of the rite. I am excited about this, and am feeling the inspiration of the goddess and my inner teachers moving me. As always, it remains my goal to bring the Old Ways into our time, by the work of magic arte. It is my privilege to have a group of skilled ritualists, such as we have in Our Druidry, to ask for help.