Flamekeeping with my Sisters
I am a Flamekeeper.
My friend Bridey recently wrote about Flamekeeping, and began a cell of flamekeepers to tend Brigid’s Eternal Flame, which I have joined. I would say that it’s a ‘local’ group, but it’s comprised of women from all over the world. It’s been fascinating to me to be a part of Pagan groups with one common uniting feature, and this group is no less interesting.
I have never been called to Brigid in the past, but I have been around her more in the last year as she is Bridey’s patron and She seems to be drawing me closer to Her, for a time, at least.
As a Flamekeeper, the expectation is that during the 20-day cycle, you will tend the flame on the day of your shift for as much of the day as possible, taking safety into consideration.The longer you are able to tend, the more energy the cell will be able to generate: an offering to this world and the otherworld, as well as to Brighid. The day is not spent merely ensuring that the candle doesn’t get out of control – it is a day spent, as much as possible, in meditation, reflection and devotion – in whatever form – to Brighid. For some, this may mean a day of fasting, for others, a day of indulgence. For some a day of quiet meditation, for others a day of joyous celebration. It is making devotion to Brigid personal, and connecting with Her in whatever way moves you as an individual.
I thought that I would take a few minutes and talk about what tending Brigid’s Flame means to me now, before the cycle begins. I plan to write again once this first cycle ends and reflect on the experience.
Brigid is associated with hearth and home, the fire especially; with creativity (poems, art, music) and healing. Her counterparts are other domestic deities: Norse Frigg, Greek Hestia, Roman Vesta, Egyptian God Bes and Goddess Sekhmet-Hathor with her husband Ptah, and their son, Nefertum.
I am partial to the Eqyptian Pantheon (though I do not consider myself to be Tameran or Kemetic), and so I associate Brigid with the righteous anger and divine retribution of Sekhmet (though somewhat more balanced and less prone to getting carried away). The triad of Sekmet/Ptah/Nefertum(Imhoptep) and their combined attributes ally closely with Brigid for me – home, hearth, fire, creativity and healing. Therefore it is easy to incorporate Brigid into my personal Pantheon as a sort of sister to or re-visualization of Sekhmet.
Tending the flame of home and hearth is something that I can relate to. As a stay at home mom, the home is my first priority – the essence of home if not the physical building. Years ago, when my children were little, we were forced to evacuate for Hurricane Rita. We were displaced for just over a month. When the dust settled and we finally ‘landed’ (in a hotel, put there by my husband’s company), one of the first things I can remember doing was unpacking and getting into a routine to make the hotel as ‘normal’ as possible so that the children would feel balanced again. It is this sense of balance that is generally present in my home that I honor by tending Her Eternal Flame.
Though I would not consider myself an ‘artist’ I love to craft – painting, sculpting, jewelry-making, scrapbooking, needlework, sewing, writing, story-crafting – all this and more are practices that soothe my soul. As the patroness of artists and creativity, Brigid has a place in my life as the well-spring of inspiration and spark of creative fire that leads to a piece – be it a story or mixed-media piece – that I find healing in. As a Goddess of healing, this aspect plays a role in my life as well – not only through my art, but also in my desire to care for my family and my community. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a midwife. Circumstances have changed, and though that is no longer a goal of mine, I still work closely with new mothers and plan to continue doing so.
Because I am not as familiar with the Celtic Pantheon, I am going to use the next few months as a Flamekeeper to learn more about the Gods and Goddesses that make up the Celtic Pantheon, and respond to the call I have been feeling to Cernnunos and Cerridwen as well.
If you’re interested in keeping Brigid’s Eternal Flame, you can check out Ord Brighideach International, the Order of Flamekeepers, to find a cell that is open. Even if you’re not called to Brigid, consider the possibility of making time to connect with her for a cycle (even informally). Perhaps She waits for you!