A long-held tradition in the Sassafras Grove Brigantia rite is scrying ashes for the omen. A week or so before the rite, we gather and burn our remaining Yule greens and bring the ashes to the ritual. If you’ve gone to one of our Brigantia rituals in the last several years, you’ve most likely seen me taking the omen. Once all of the offerings are given, Our Brighid Priestess stirs the ashes we’ve placed in a bowl below her altar. When she is done, I kneel in front of the ashes, pull a symbol from a bag and then scry the ashes. Recently, a friend of the Grove asked about the symbols and how they relate to the omen. So here is the story of our Brighid Divination Set.
Years before I joined Sassafras Grove, there was a tradition where the nine priestesses who would be invoking Brighid in the public ritual would get together about a week before the rite. There they would perform a ritual to help them connect to the aspect of Brighid they would be invoking. This involved a guided meditation where you would travel up a hill, then down into a holy cave where we each entered a private room, and had a personal moment with the goddess. Each room had a door and the door you chose to enter would have a symbol on it meant for you.
2004 was the first year I participated in this ritual. I did the guided meditation, went into the cave and to the door. On the door was very clearly an eye with a black center. I heard a message to remember this symbol, but no explanation as to why. I drew it on a piece of paper and kept it somewhere safe.
The next year, I did the meditation again and the door was blank. Again, I was clearly told that this was the symbol and I needed to remember it. So I added it to the first symbol and waited.
It is now 2007. I have four symbols that I know are important, but I don’t know why. I started to carve the symbols onto square, clay beads and I strung them on a necklace.
2008 is when things get really interesting. We decided that instead of doing the ritual and meditation privately, , we would do it publicly at our lore meeting and invite the community to join us. I was unable to attend this so I did the meditation at my home. It was overwhelming to say the least. During my time with Brighid, she told me (loudly and clearly) the meanings of the symbols and that she was giving me a divination set. I had no idea how many symbols, how long this would take, etc… Most importantly, I could not understand why she chose me. I felt completely unworthy of this message. Why wasn’t this message given to our founder, Earrach of Pittsburgh? The whole reason we do a Brigantia ritual every year (instead of changing themes like we do with other high days) is because of his connection to Brighid. She is the patron of our Grove because of him. Why not give the message to Maria? She also has a deep connection to Brighid and channels Brighid at our public ritual every year. At this point, I was just a “helper” at best.
Needless to say, there were several phone calls to other Grove members later that evening. Am I crazy? Am I just making this up in my head? Shouldn’t someone else more connected to her be getting this message? But the conclusion was this: if she was giving me the message, then I was worthy. We could speculate as to the reason why it was me and not someone else, but we would never know for sure. Ultimately, it did not matter. My grove believed and supported me. Why should I believe in myself any less?
So this continued. 2009 I did get a “bonus symbol” during a soul journey workshop. Otherwise it was one symbol a year, every year. At some point, I did start putting the symbols on wooden discs and received the “go ahead” from Brighid to start using them in the public Brigantia ritual. This is why I started pulling one and using it to help me while I scryed in the ashes. She made it clear at that point that the set was not complete and that I could not make duplicate sets yet..
This brings us to 2017, the last year I received a symbol. Of course, it wasn’t that easy. We were at my house doing the guided meditation. As usual, I went with everyone up the hill, into the hill and into the holy cave. But, instead of going to one of the rooms to get my symbol, Brighid grabbed me and pulled me into the fire in the center of the room. Usually Brighid is not “scary” to me, but I am well aware of her warrior aspect. So there I am, in the center of her pure, white flame, looking at everyone else around the room, and unable to get out of the fire.. I knew I would not burn, but it was still unsettling and incredibly intense. There she gave me the final symbol and told me that the set was complete. Then I was told (again loudly and clearly) that I now had to pay for the knowledge given to me. I would keep her flame every day for fifteen months, one month for every symbol given. She is reasonable deity and understood that it is not always safe to leave a candle burning unattended. When this is the case, I am permitted wear a ring that I had dedicated to her years ago. I asked what would happen if I missed a day. She said, “You’re Roman, you start over”. I can quote that, because that is not something I will ever forget. We finished the meditation and the ritual. I was still shaking, but I made my oath right then and there in front of my grove and her flame. I would keep her flame; fifteen months for fifteen symbols. A gift for a gift.
So here I am. It’s been over a year and I have kept my oath. I do wear the ring most days, but I try to actually burn a candle as often as I can safely. Sometimes I leave an electric tea light on for her. When I put on the ring, I take a moment to mindful and thank her. At our last grove ritual and meditation, she told me she was pleased and would call my oath fulfilled. I chose not to accept her offer. Instead I will keep my oath for the full fifteen months and make her a glass bead at the end as a final offering. I believe this is a small price to pay for the gift she has given.
Deana of Sassafras Grove