Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

Gwyl Ffraid/Imbolc 2009

by gillian - February 3rd, 2009.
Filed under: Past Rituals. Tagged as: , , , , .

Thanks to Nigel for the video- a Druidic Dawn production

This year, our celebration for Gwyl Ffraid was invigorating, inspirational and joyful! We all met at Trigonos in the Nantlle Valley. The mountains were moodily veiled in cloud and a bitter wind swept keenly down from the frozen heights of Snowdon. Before we ventured out, we fortified ourselves with hot beverages and donned many warm layers of clothing. As the saying goes; it was a “lazy wind”… didn’t bother to go around you but cut clean through you like a knife! Twentythree of us intrepid souls sallied out to meet the onslaught of the elements and we marched off down to the edge of the lake, (Llyn Nantlle Uchaf), to gather round and officially begin our ritual day of celebration

Asking the elements to be with us was not hard… the element of air was all but blowing us away!.. and seeking the witness and strength of the ancestors of the valley, and of our own personal tribes and genetic lines was simple and very moving. I think that each one of us felt a particular connection to time and place as the wheel of the year rolled from winter into very early spring.

Back inside the warm and comfortable Meeting Room, we continued by calling “peace in the quarters”, especially needed at this time, I think, and then progressed on to the group reading of a dramatic poem: “Hymn to Sant Ffraid” by Ruth Bidgood. It covers all the main aspects of Ffraid/Brigid: her centre of Hearth, (and consequently “home”), her healing and her inspiration of bards and poets; her midwifery skills of birthing spring from winter and bringing all the young animals forth… all the shoots and flowers of the months and seasons to come. The whole grove joined in and read various parts in turn. This helped to bring the sentiments alive and it was remarkably powerful.

Next, a welcome break and lunch! Delicious soup made by Alison, (two steaming pans; carrot, butternut squash and ginger, etc., and leek and potato!), and bread; loaves homemade by Jenn and Dafydd, and a most unusual plaited loaf which Carol had made using three different colours of dough to represent the Maiden, Mother and Crone.

In the afternoon, we began by talking about the significance of the hearth as an icon, the importance and relevance of food, (apart from the obvious!) and of what exactly “home” means to us all.

We looked at the concept of darkness, without which we could not have light; that comforting, nurturing “safe” place… the darkness of the womb of all creation… and we took a little time to step back into it and see what we could find there… what came to us unbidden. Some shared really interesting experiences and it was obvious that when we closed our eyes and shut out the light, there was a great deal of worth to be found, just waiting for us, if only we care to feel, listen and wait. Instead of “looking” all the time.

I Suggested we use this particular time to plant the seeds of self-knowledge, and I asked everyone to think what qualities they would like to develop within themselves. We made lists – not too long, or else, like new year’s resolutions, they become impossible to sensibly stick to, and do anything about. Many seemed to find it quite difficult to begin, but once done, the floodgates opened! My own list changed dramatically as I took note of my own words and changed “action” to “stillness” and “strength” to “listening”.

I then suggested that everyone plan a “spiritual garden” – choose plants (flower, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, whatever) to represent each quality that they wished to nurture and grow within themselves, and this spring, go home and purchase the seeds and literally plant it. It can be a special bed within one’s garden, or a large container, or a series of pots on a windowsill. Whatever! The main thing is to bring into reality what one seeks to be – to see it grow and prosper – and hopefully, simultaneously, grow and prosper within one’s self. And if a plant withers or dies, then that quality obviously needs extra attention, and one must redouble one’s efforts!

This was not just a mental excerscise. I really did, and do want everybody to go home, buy seeds, and plant a garden! And I shall be checking up as the year progresses, to see how each one is getting on!

I also suggested that after everyone has brought their seeds – and in view of the large numbers of seed that one often gets in packets – that at the Spring Equinox we could bring the surplus seeds that we don’t need and have a general seed-swap.

Caryl got us off to a marvellous start by gifting everyone a little blue satin bag (colour representative of water) of woad seeds. Lovely plants these, with frothy abundance of little yellow flowers on strong stems, two to three feet tall in May and June. Just what every Celt, young or old should have.

Later, we made paper snowflakes with Christine, each cutting our own individually amazing patterns, just like I did many years ago as a child at school. They still fascinate and enchant me. Christine said that they were to represent the last snows of winter… Somebody should have informed the weather, judging by the huge countrywide fall that we have all experienced today! We are to signal the definite end of winter at the Spring Equinox by burning them.

The cloud of morning had soon dissipated, and by Noon the sun had flooded the valley, smiling indulgently on mountain slopes, woods and water alike. Unfortunately, by the time we came to go outside again to close the ritual the sun was just setting and the world was turning grey and icy cold again. Once more, we plodded down the field to the lakeside, to bid farewell to the boisterous elements and the ancestors of land, tribe, and blood.

By now we were all very ready to eat, and from generous contributions made by everyone, we assembled a veritable feast, which we all heartily enjoyed!

Later, there was storytelling from Ruth, more stories, singing, and music from Eric, and beautiful poetry from Gwyn – fitting end to a day dedicated to … Among many other things… Inspiration and the bardic arts!

Anyone who would like to add their thoughts, impressions or  observations and memories of our time together (at Gwyl Ffraid) are warmly invited to comment using the form below.

5 Responses to Gwyl Ffraid/Imbolc 2009

  1. I’d like to say how much I enjoyed our Imbolc/Gwyl Ffraid celebrations, and how much the day meant to me – I think it was one of our best ritual days for ages. Here are some things that made it special for me…

    The waves on the lake and the wind in the trees…

    Hauntingly beautiful poetry from Gwyn …

    Everyone’s company in marking/celebrating Imbolc, but especially to Gillian for making it such a meaningful day!

  2. Wonderful video, something to be proud off. Just wish we could have had Gwyn’s welsh metered poem as well. But never mind, it does capture the feeling and the energies of the day very well!

  3. There is another version which includes Gwyn’s poem, but at present do not have the necessary permissions to include it. But we might have soon!

  4. It sounds as though you had an extremely beautiful ritual.

  5. We certainly did! Was one of those moments where one thinks ‘Why can’t that go on forever?’ The energies of winter still clinging on with those of early spring clearly on the wax were so strong, you could practically touch them and put in your pocket to be with you for a long time!

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