Gelli Fach

Gelli Fach

I'm a cell, I'm fragmented, I change my form;
I'm a repository of song, I'm a dynamic state.
I love a wooded slope and a snug shelter,
and a creative poet who doesn't buy his advancement.

Wyf kell, wyf dellt, wyf datweirllet;
wyf llogell kerd, wyf lle ynnyet.
Karaf-y gorwyd a goreil clyt,
a bard a bryt ny pryn y ret.

From: Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin, edited and translated by Marged Haycock

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Blessing the Rushes on Brigit's Eve

Blessing the Rushes on Brigit's Eve

We ask for your blessing, Brigit,
on the Eve of your day,
Brigit the generous, Brigit the fair,
may your blessings be upon us.

We ask for your blessing on these rushes,
Brigit beloved.
On tip and root,
on stalk and stem,
on brown and green,
on one and many.

Moving rightways with the sun
may they weave and thread,
thread and weave,
all goodness, all prosperity
into this house, into our homes.
May these rushes weave all goodness
into our lives.

We ask for the blessing of the Three
on these our rushes,
we ask for the blessing of Brigit
on these our rushes.

The rushes picked for the last two of our Brigit's Eve festivals were rather thin, dry and mottled - a result of the lack of rain and icy conditions. This year, when we have had such a lot of rainfall they were a vibrant green, thick and juicy. Not easily picked though as the land, Cae Pwll or the Pond Field, was so waterlogged. I've been looking at the crosses I made last night and thinking how each are a microcosm of the world outside the hearth where we were gathered. They connect us with the land, with water and ice and soil and air, encapsulating not just this time of year, but also this particular time, its attributes and conditions. 

Last year I experimented with making a Bride doll out of the rushes left-over and kept her as the image of Brigit to use to welcome in and lie in her bed by the fire. She is very simple - just rushes folded and the top part tied off to make a head; a few rushes on either side tied off to make arms and the rest splayed out to suggest a robe - or perhaps the rays of the sun. I like her much better than the small ceramic doll I'd used before. This Brigit doll is elemental, suggesting a human form and yet at the same time a strange and alien being, bringing the power of another form of life co-existing with ours. I don't think there are enough suitable rushes left to make one this year but I shall try later.

I'm allowing myself to rest all day today after a few days of rushing (!) around and a late night. Our celebration this year flowed well as we feasted, made our crosses each in our own way - one quiet and concentrating, two talking in a desultory way, sharing insights, news... frustration with the cross-making process. I find it strange how every year I seem to have forgotten how to make them. This year it took me several attempts to get the three-armed cross right when usually if I have the first three rushes interlocked it flows fairly well. I persevered and it worked out in the end. Ah, perseverance, that's something to remember for the year ahead.

We also drank tea and then recited Ruth Bidgood's Hymn to St Ffraid for three voices which is such a lovely thing to do - weaving our three very different voices into a recounting of the story and attributes of Brigit. Bringing her and a celebration of her into our minds, bodies and the candle-lit room. We each shared some of our writing and offered thoughts and blessings for a seriously-ill friend. 

It was after midnight when I waved my guests off into the stormy night. Today I wake to the news that Aberystwyth did not suffer too badly from the wind and waves but there is more to come today and tomorrow. Outside my home, the wind is showing its power by making the trees dance a wild dance. Twice a sudden burst of bright, bright sunlight has exploded through my window before disappearing again, the grey clouds glowering darkly as if they had never parted to give me a glimpse of something so precious.

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