Crafts and Traditions of Imbolc

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Brídeag – Bríde Doll
To make this “Little Bríde” take a long bundle of rushes or straw and fold in the middle. Tie a piece of string in a knot around where you’d like the neck of the doll to be. Split the body section of the doll into three parts; the two on the outside should be smaller than the one in the middle, and they should be about equal in thickness to each other. These will become the arms. Trim and tie off at the wrists. Tie a string in the middle section where you’d like the waist to be.  The Brídeag is a representation of the goddess Bríde and is dressed in her colors and decorated with greenery, shells, and crystals.  During ritual, she is placed in a basket (her bed), and a white birch wand placed beside her.

Brat Bríde – Bríde’s Mantle
The Brat Bríde is simple a piece of cloth that is placed outside (from sunset to sunrise) for Bríde to bless on the eve of Imbolc.  The cloth then has the power to protect and heal all the following year.

Cros Bríde –  Bríde’s Cross
These are woven from fresh green rushes (though they may also be made with wheat stalks -soaked until pliable) on the eve of Imbolc.  Woven left to right- sunwise- they are protective charms, placed above entrances to the home, even above windows.  There are many versions of the Bríde’s Cross…
The most common is the equal armed sun cross whose shape suggests movement (1).  (For instructions for making this click here.)

Another version that I don’t see as much is the binding knot, which keeps out evil spirits (2).  It is made with a simple basket weave pattern.

This next one you may know as the ‘god’s eye’ (3).  Only it’s made with rushes instead of popsickle sticks and yarn.

Number 4 is simply a braided cross inside a braided circle.  Incidentally, one should avoid turning wheels on the day of Imbolc.

Lastly, my favorite, one that actually isn’t a cross at all, but a triskele (5).  Whereas the others represent Bríde’s power as a goddess of light, this one reminds us of her triple nature.  (I have made these before by modifying the method for the equal-armed cross in the first picture.)

Bríde’s crosses will last for years before disintegrating.  The green color of the rushes will soon fade to a straw color.  The proper way to dispose of an old Cros Bríde is to either burn or bury it.

Bríde’s Crosses

Crios Bríde –  Bríde’s Girdle
The Crios Bríde is a hoop of braided straw with (usually four) crosses attached.  The hoop and the Bríde doll was carried around neighborhoods and at each house, each family member was asked to step through the hoop to receive Bríde’s blessing and be reborn to another year of good health.  The verse recited was such as this:
“Bríde’s girdle is my girdle, The girdle of the four crosses.
Arise, housewife and go through three times.
May whoever goes through my girdle be sevenfold better in a year’s time.”

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