Friday August 31st I spent most of the day preparing my Harvest Altar. It takes up a good 1/3 of my kitchen table, and I couldn’t be happier with it. As the day waned on I rearranged, shifted, took away, and added to it until finally I was satisfied. My offerings to the Spirits included three loaves of homemade sourdough bread marked with equal-armed crosses that I had been saving in the freezer for…I didn’t know… three ripe figs from our very bountiful fig tree, blackberries picked from our un-tamable hedgerow, and an apple that fell smack in front of me while I was walking around underneath the largest of the apple trees looking for a suitable apple (since I can’t reach any of the ones actually in the tree). “I’m looking for a good, whole apple that is still fresh to feed the Spirits,” I told my son as I kicked over another half-rotten apple. As I turned to walk away, there one fell right out of the tree.
Autumn, wheat, and bee motifs fill it out in their shades of orange and brown. I blended in my kitchen Brighid altar as well, though typically celebrated at Imbolc and associated with milk-bearing animals she is also a goddess of the Harvest. In the evening once the sun began to set and the heat of the day began to abate, I returned to the far garden for more wheat. We didn’t plant it, our theory is that it grew from the straw mulching from the year before. But there it was, heads bent in their golden glory. And so I harvested a small bushel for crafting my ‘corn collies’. They are representative of the Lord & Lady of the Harvest, and of the Spirits of this Land, this home. My hope is to keep them on the altar through the Last Harvest (Samhain) and then find them a place of honor in our home until the Spring, when they will be brought out again to bless the land for the Spring planting.
On a fluke, I made a friend online (through Craigslist of all things) a continent away, and within two weeks she had come down from visiting her friend in Washington to meet us and talk about birth and midwifery and our work here. She brought with her a bouquet of lavender sprigs she had picked on Orcas Island, and so I placed them with some wheat as the center piece of my altar. To new friends and safe travels and The Journey~
In the evening I finished writing up my dedication ritual as a Priestess Midwyfe-Healer of Brighid. After midnight, the full moon having risen high over the ridge beyond our home, glowing the brightest orange in the haze of a distant forest fire, I set to my work. Candles were lit, a Sacred Flame ignited, honey stirred into warmed milk, my dedication items prepared and waiting.
Spirits and Ancestors invited, Grandmother Barker– midwife of my mother’s line– and Brighid, The Fiery One, Invoked.
Sacred Waters to anoint, honey-sweetened milk shared between Us, a red mantle to cover my head as a sign of my new role, pendant charms to be imbued with Their essences, that They may always be with me, and a leather-bound notebook to dedicate as my first Willow Book*.
Afterwards I meditated on the Sacred Flame, my palms tingling with Her Fire, and I saw also her flames above my head, in my belly, and atop my feet. A sense of calmness, of serenity, had overcome me after drinking in seven drafts the honey-milk. “Call on Brigh in your hour of need, She will not forsake thee.”
I then pulled cards, and am still working through their meanings…
I am Bear’s Daughter, I am Wren Bjorndottir, I am a Priestess Midwyfe-Healer of Brighid.
>>> <<< >>> <<< >>> <<<
*The term ‘Willow Book’ comes from the novel, The Birth House by Ami McKay. It references an old tome kept by the village midwife where all of her learnings regarding healing, herbalism, and women’s work (birthing and the like) are collected.
If you are interested in or already are involved with birth work, herbalism/healing, and/or Brighid and would like to collaborate with me regarding being a dedicated Priestess Midwyfe-Healer of Brighid, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org