The days leading up to Imbolc are traditionally set aside for thorough house cleaning and purification. To “sain” is to ritually purify and bless- usually with water and smoke. This saining ritual is based on Scottish tradition and was traditionally done on New Year’s day, but also seems to be a fitting way to prepare for Imbolc. You can go straight from the saining ritual into doing the house blessing & protection ritual.
~A few days ahead of time, gather juniper branches and lay out to dry. Then gather together and tie into a bundle. Find a flameproof dish to have ready for catching ashes and sparks.
~Gather water from a spiritually significant source. (Be sure to thank the guardian of the spring/stream etc. and leave an offering of silver.) Make sure the water is safe to drink, if opting to drink it as part of the ritual.
~Do a thorough physical house cleaning. (Clean like the Mother of the Gods is about to pay you a visit.)
~Gather the family around the household hearth/altar.
~Pass the water around sunwise for everyone to anoint their face and/or drink.
~Take the water around the house and sprinkle in all the corners of every room of the house.
~Light the juniper branches and get them to smoking. Fan the smoke around each member of the household and in all the corners of every room of the house.
Preparations: This rite is to take place in the heart of the home. You will also be walking around to all parts of the home with a candle to do the blessing. Ideally, the family shrine would be on a fireplace mantle and the sacred fire kindled in the fireplace. If there is no fireplace, use candle(s) or a oil lamp instead. The shrine/altar should have representations of the other two hallows as well- the tree (represented in art or as a wooden stick), and well (a bowl or cauldron of water). Read over the ritual and determine what offerings are needed and how much. Also have a bowl on the altar to place offerings in, to be taken outside after the ritual. If the ritual is to be done around a fireplace, some of the offerings may go directly into the fire. You will also need Bríde’s crosses or other house protection talismans to hang over all entrances to your house. Divide up speaking parts among participants.
[Do a simple purification with water if not doing a saining just before this ritual.]
~Ring a bell to signify the beginning of ritual.
~Statement of purpose: “On this day we gather to ask the gods and goddesses to bless and protect this house and all residing herein. We pledge to honor them and keep the old ways in exchange for this protection.”
~Honoring the Earth Mother: “Anu, Earth Mother, our foundation, living and strong, we honor you this day and give you offering.”
~Chant the Portal Song for the Triple Center while lighting a hearth fire or candle and making offerings to each of the hallows.
~Two Powers Meditation and honoring the Three Realms: “As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be, we stand at the center of Land, Sky, and Sea.”
~Gatekeeper invocation and offering: “Mannanan, Guardian of the Gates, hear our call. Accept our offering to you. May the Triple Center of Well, Tree, ad Fire open as a gate between the worlds.”
~Three Kindred Invocations and offerings:
“Blessed Ancestors, welcome. Accept our offerings and watch over us.”
“Guardians of Nature, welcome. Be at peace with us and accept our offerings.”
“Shining Ones, gods and goddesses of old, welcome. Bríde and Dagda, welcome. Accept our offerings and may we be under your protection.”
Light a candle and bring it to the doorways, hearth and the corners of each room while reciting this blessing:
“May Bríde give blessing, and the Dagda give protection
to the house that is here-
Both crest and frame, both stone and beam,
Both clay and wattle; both summit and foundation;
Both window and timber; both foot and head;
Both woman and man; both young and old-
May this house and family be under the protection of the gods and goddesses.
Banished are all malevolent spirits and disruptive forces.”
Place Bríde’s crosses above all entrances to the home.
Recite this Celtic house blessing:
“May this house be founded
On the goodness of Mother Earth.
May the walls of this house be blessed
By the four winds of the heavens.
May the roof of this house be guarded
By the heights of the stars above.
So that all who live in this house, all who seek shelter in this house,
All who strive, protected by this house, find hope and strength to live,
Find love and joy to give, find faith and meaning in their destiny.”
~Thanks and ending:
“We offer our thanks to Dagda and to Bríde.
We give thanks to the Kindreds Three.
To the Fire, Well and Tree, and to the Earth, Sky, and Sea, we offer our thanks.
To the Gatekeeper, we offer our thanks, and may the gates of the worlds be closed.
We give thanks to Mother Earth upon which we stand. Our rite is at an end.”
All say as candles are put out:
“As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be.”