One of the most amazing ceremonies of my life! The ritual of the Flame and Rose

A long beautiful drive to the upper limits of Barnardsville, and I arrived early.  I don’t recall when I got so old so that I am early for everything.  At 7:30 I walked into the barn-shaped building. The ceremony took place upstairs.  It had a padded floor so everyone took their shoes off before entering. The area was dimly illuminated with colored lighting setting the mood.  We had been instructed to bring pillows, I claimed a spot near the wall so I could lean against it. That lasted about 5 minutes,  as we were given a brief introduction, to participate as much or as little as you like.  I decided then to commit myself 100% I am here, I should offer myself up to the experience fully.  We were told if we must talk to someone to step outside to keep it reverent. It started with a progression of celebrants.  The women wore long flowy white gowns. The men wore white tunics except for the leader he wore a thin green plaid kilt.  They made their way up to the altar that was up against the long wall they sit cross-legged or kneeled on their knees (there was a lot of kneeling, my knees did not cooperate with that) About 6 celebrants on each side formed a u-shape. Everyone else would eventually be in a circle around them.

We were called to stand up and move, to move however your body was called to the music.  For the next 45 minutes, it was an Ecstatic Dance.  Some songs were flowy like a long piece of fabric in the wind this called for slow sensuous movements, while other songs were spinning, looping grabbing arms, and twirling around. Still others a large group of us held hands and danced in circles almost running at some points. It reminded me of some of the books I read that where if a mortal drinks fairy wine they can be willed to dance till they collapse.  I was sore the next day.

Next came the chanting. We were taught the words. Then it was call and return, all in Irish but it was easy to catch on.  A very ethereal, spiritual experience that lasted another 45 minutes or so

We gathered back into the circle where we had invocation and prayers if you felt it, you could call out two- or three-word intentions for the year. Afterward, we stood up and moved to more chants

Then came the ritual itself. Different chants were sung as each person was encouraged to approach the altar, kneel down on the sheepskin pads, say a little prayer to themselves, then move forward to look deep into the eyes of the Oracle of Brigid.  A mirror you where you were looking into yourself. We were encouraged to take a moment to reflect on the seeds we sowing this year and the possibilities for their growth.  The altar itself was a low table with a big mirror behind it lots of roses, they were everywhere, incense bowls with ponderosa pine resin crystals smoking on charcoal, lots of candles, and religious figurines.

 Kneeling in front of the Oracle you would reach into a bowl full of dried roses. They were saved from the offerings from last year.  Take one of these dried roses out of the bowl from last year dip it into the flame and let it catch on fire when the flames die down you would crush it in your hands, take the charcoal, and rub it on your forehead or rub wherever you wish, creating sort of a tribal makeup.  All while focusing on your seeds and their growth this year.  Kneel back down and look the Oracle in the eye, dipping your fingers into the sacred water and using this to seal in the ash on your face. To finish bless yourself with rose-scented essential oil. Then dropping back into child’s pose to reflect before you go back into the circle. Or some people started to dance as they got finished and some people would move back to the wall,  some people lay prone on the ground just looking up.  It was a magical experience, we just kept chanting the Irish chants until the very last song it was the only song of the night that was spoken in English and it was something like “You are enough, you are the light, let the light shine again. Eventually, the leader stood up and started dancing in a serpent chain that circled around, sensually winding in and out so that way everybody could pass each other and you could look into the eyes of the people on the other side as you and wish them that they are enough.  Faster, and faster till it starts spiraling around itself, towards the center getting tighter, and tighter.  All the bodies huddled together holding hands in sort of a group hug, it kept on getting tighter and tighter then we broke our hand-holding letting our fingers letting rise up, dancing high above our heads. Our hands came back together as we moved out into a big circle where more prayers were chanted to the center then we held hands looking and looked to the outside world offering up more chants.   We hugged each other, introduced ourselves and it was over.

I have discovered I crave sacred rituals. This was a very magical experience from beginning to end. I did feel changed at the end of the night more ground and more aware of my seeds for the coming year

This was the description I had before going,

The Grove of the Light of Erin is opening our high Ímbolc ritual for the first time in 10 years to the greater community. The ritual of the Flame and Rose is a 126-year-old ritual that the Order of Celtic Mysteries have been hosting as a part of the celebrations of Ímbolc and the rise of spring in the heart of winter.

Come join us to look deep into the eyes of the Oracle of Brigid, honor the matron of Spring, pour yourself into the ecstasy and rapture of deep devotional Irish chanting, and liberate your body temple from the confines of Winter’s teeth and shackles.

Come prepared with a deep knowing of what you are letting go of and what you are planting in the soil of your soul for the coming season. Wear comfortable clothing for movement and dance. Bring a cushion, backjack, lambskin, or similar to sit upon.

Irish songs will be taught.

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