A Brighid's Cross can be made to celebrate the goddess at Imbolc.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

Looking for some simple and quick gift ideas for Imbolc? Put together a few of these items for the season, and exchange them with coven members or your other Pagan friends to celebrate Imbolc!

Make a small Brighid's cross out of chenille stems. If your tradition has special colors, you can use these in your cross. Another option would be to have each coven member make them in different colors, and swap them -- that way you end up with a bunch of Brighid's crosses in a variety of combinations! Attach an extra stem with a loop at the back for hanging.

 

The cross has long been a symbol of Brighid, the Irish goddess who presides over hearth and home. In some legends, the girl who became St. Bridget wove the first of these crosses as she explained Christianity to her father, a Pictish chieftain. In other stories, the cross is not a cross at all, but a wheel of fire, which explains why it's a bit off-center in appearance. In parts of Ireland, Brighid is known as a goddess of the crossroads, and this symbol represents the place where two worlds meet, and the year is at a crossroads between light and dark.

A Brighid's Cross can be purchased in many Irish craft shopes or at festivals, but it's actually pretty easy to make your own. You can incorporate the creation of your Brighid's Cross into your Imbolc rituals, use it as a meditative exercise, or just put one together with your kids as a fun craft activity.

To make your Brighid's Cross, you'll need straw, reeds, or construction paper -- if you're using plant material like straw or reeds, you'll want to soak it overnight so it's pliable when you go to make your Cross. Your end result will be about the length of one piece of your material -- in other words, a bundle of 12" reeds will yield a Brighid's Cross just slightly longer than 12".

** Note: for a super-easy, kid-friendly edition of this project, use pipe cleaners.

Start by bending two pieces to form the base of your Brighid's Cross.

Image © Patti Wigington 2007

To begin, you'll form a base for your Cross by bending two pieces of straw in their middles to create a pair of loops -- in fact, you'll do this with each piece as you make your Cross. Link the two pieces together at their centers, as shown in Figure 1.

Next, turn these two pieces so they lie flat, and at a right angle to one another, as shown in Figure 2. This basic two-piece unit is the base for the rest of the Cross, and it's the only time you'll have two pieces hooked together in the middles like this.

The cross has long been a symbol of Brighid, the Irish goddess who presides over hearth and home. In some legends, the girl who became St. Bridget wove the first of these crosses as she explained Christianity to her father, a Pictish chieftain. In other stories, the cross is not a cross at all, but a wheel of fire, which explains why it's a bit off-center in appearance. In parts of Ireland, Brighid is known as a goddess of the crossroads, and this symbol represents the place where two worlds meet, and the year is at a crossroads between light and dark.

A Brighid's Cross can be purchased in many Irish craft shopes or at festivals, but it's actually pretty easy to make your own. You can incorporate the creation of your Brighid's Cross into your Imbolc rituals, use it as a meditative exercise, or just put one together with your kids as a fun craft activity.

To make your Brighid's Cross, you'll need straw, reeds, or construction paper -- if you're using plant material like straw or reeds, you'll want to soak it overnight so it's pliable when you go to make your Cross. Your end result will be about the length of one piece of your material -- in other words, a bundle of 12" reeds will yield a Brighid's Cross just slightly longer than 12".

** Note: for a super-easy, kid-friendly edition of this project, use pipe cleaners.

Start by bending two pieces to form the base of your Brighid's Cross.

Image © Patti Wigington 2007

To begin, you'll form a base for your Cross by bending two pieces of straw in their middles to create a pair of loops -- in fact, you'll do this with each piece as you make your Cross. Link the two pieces together at their centers, as shown in Figure 1.

Next, turn these two pieces so they lie flat, and at a right angle to one another, as shown in Figure 2. This basic two-piece unit is the base for the rest of the Cross, and it's the only time you'll have two pieces hooked together in the middles like this.

The third piece passes over both legs of the base of your Brighid's Cross.

Image © Patti Wigington 2007

Next, bend a third piece of straw in half, and loop it over one of your two base pieces, as indicated in Figure 3. Both legs of the loop in the new piece will pass over both legs of the base piece. Pull this third piece tight to hold it in place.

Loop the next piece over the piece you just added to your Brighid's Cross.

Image © Patti Wigington

Take a fourth piece, and bend it in half as you've done with the others. Loop this one over the legs of the piece you added in Step 3. You should now have four pieces, each pointing in a different direction, as shown in Figure 4.

Continue looping pieces in the same manner until your Brighid's Cross is the size you want.

Image © Patti Wigington

Finally, you'll continue looping pieces over one another (see Figure 5)as you did in the last step, until your cross reaches the size you want. Each piece loops over the previous one. When you're all done, use a piece of string, ribbon, or even another bit of straw to secure the four ends. Trim off excess pieces.

The Brighid's Cross is sometimes interpreted not as a cross but as a fire wheel, or as a symbol of Brighid's position as a goddess of crossroads.

Image © Patti Wigington 2007

In Ireland, homes traditionally had a hearth in the center of the house. This was where much of the household activity took place -- cooking, washing, socializing -- because it was a source of both light and warmth. A Brighid's Cross was hung over the hearth as a way of honoring Brighid at Imbolc. Most people today have multiple sources of heat and light, but because Brighid is a domestic sort of goddess, you may want to hang your Brighid's Cross over the stove in your kitchen.

A Brighid's Cross hung over a hearth traditionally protected a home from disasters such as lightning, storms, or floods, as well as keeping family members safe from illness.

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Imbolc is a festival of light -- celebrate it with candles and flames!

Image © Rubberball/Getty Images

Imbolc is a festival of fire. Put together a small gift basket with a homemade candle, blessing oil, and incense to celebrate the sabbat. If you don't have the time to make candles, buy a few pre-made ones, and embellish them with sigils of your tradition, of fire, or of Brighid.

Give a gift of handmade soaps to celebrate the purification aspect of Imbolc.

Image © Getty Images

In many traditions, Imbolc is a time of cleansing and purification. Make small homemade soaps or bath salts, wrap them in decorative paper, and tie with a ribbon. Make them in different herbal scents, and exchange with friends.

Give someone a blank journal so they can write down their creative thoughts and ideas.

Image © James Darell/Getty Images

Give a handmade journal. Brighid is the patron of poets and bards, so why not make a small notebook to give as a gift? You can either cover a pre-purchased journal with the fabric of your choice, or you can cut and bind paper to make a book completely from scratch (this takes a little while, but it's worth the effort). Add a fancy pen or quill, and give it to friends so they can write down their personal thoughts.

Make a goddess doll out of clay, foam or fabric to share with your friends.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

Make a goddess doll. You can put together a simple doll out of Sculpey clay, or sew one from felt or cloth. Decorate her with a green mantle and red hair to celebrate Brighid for Imbolc, or dress her up like the goddess of your own tradition. If you have corn husks, make her as a corn dolly.

Make a cornhusk doll to celebrate the goddess Brighid.

Image © Patti Wigington 2009

In one of her many aspects, Brighid is known as the bride. She is a symbol of fertility and good fortune, and is seen as yet one more step in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Traditionally, the Brighid doll is made of woven grain such as oats or wheat. This version, however, uses corn husks.

If you made a doll back at Lughnasadh, you can re-use it, dressing it up in spring colors. This way, the Harvest Mother becomes the Spring Bride. Some traditions, however, prefer not to re-use their harvest doll, and instead choose to start fresh and new in the spring. Either way is fine.

 

Start by folding some husks in half and making a head and torso.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

To make this simple doll, you'll need some corn husks -- and clearly, in January or February, you probably won't be able to find a lot of those growing outside. Check your grocery store's produce section to get husks. If you're using dried-out husks, soak them for a couple of hours to soften them up (fresh husks need no special preparation). You'll also need some yarn or ribbon, and a few cotton balls.

Take a strip of the husk, and fold it in half. Place two or three cotton balls in the middle, and then twist the husk, tying it with string to make a head (See Figure 1). Leave a bit of husk in the front and back, below the head, to create a torso.

 

Make arms, and attach them in place by tying the waist with yarn.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

Make a pair of arms for your doll by folding a couple of husks in half, and then tying it at the ends to make hands. Slip the arms between the husks that form the torso, and tie off at the waist. If you like your dolls plump, slide an extra cotton ball or two in there to give your Brighid a bit of shape [Figure 2].

 

Make a skirt by tying husks upside down around the waist, and then folding downwards.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

Arrange a few more husks, upside down, around the doll's waist. Overlap them slightly, and then tie them in place with yarn -- it should look like she has her skirt up over her face. After you've tied the waist, carefully fold the husks down, so now her skirt comes downwards, towards where her feet would be (Figure 3). Trim the hem of the skirt so it's even, and let your doll completely dry.

 

Finish off your doll by either leaving her plain, or making hair out of yarn, or adding an apron or face.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

Once your doll has dried, you can leave her plain or give her a face and some hair (use soft yarn), as in Figure 4. Some people go all out decorating their bride doll -- you can add clothing, an apron, beadwork, whatever your imagination can create.

Place your Brighid in a place of honor in your home for Imbolc, near your hearth or in the kitchen if possible. By inviting her into your home, you are welcoming Brighid and all the fertility and abundance she may bring with her.

Brighid is the Celtic goddess who is the keeper of the hearth, the deity who watches over nursing mothers and pregnant women, and who is the overseer of all things domestic. She is also connected to healing and wisdom. One commonly found symbol of Brighid is her green mantle, or cloak. In Gaelic, the mantle is known as the "brat Bhride."

Although her origins are that of a Pagan goddess, at one point she became associated with Christianity and St. Brighid of Kildare. The legend has it that Brighid was the daughter of a Pictish chieftain who went to Ireland to learn from St. Patrick. In one story, the girl who later became St. Brighid went to the King of Leinster, and petitioned him for land so she could build an abbey. The King, who still held to the old Pagan practices of Ireland, told her he'd be happy to give her as much land as she could cover with her cloak. Naturally, her cloak grew and grew until it covered as much property as Brighid needed, and she got her abbey. Thanks to her roles as both a Pagan goddess and a Christian saint, Brighid is often seen as being of both worlds; a bridge between the old ways and the new.

In Celtic Pagan stories, Brighid's mantle carries with it blessings and powers of healing. Many people believe that if you place a piece of cloth out upon your hearth at Imbolc, Brighid will bless it in the night. Use the same cloth as your mantle each year, and it will gain strength and power each time Brighid passes by. The mantle can be used to comfort and heal a sick person, and to provide protection for women in labor. A newborn baby can be wrapped in the mantle to help them sleep through the night without fussing.

To make a Brighid's mantle of your own, find a piece of green cloth long enough to comfortably wrap around your shoulders. Leave it on your doorstep on the night of Imbolc, and Brighid will bless it for you. In the morning, wrap yourself in her healing energy.

 

How To Make a Brighid's Crown

Brighid is the goddess who reminds us that spring is around the corner. She watches over hearth and home, and this craft project combines her position as firekeeper with that of fertility goddess. Make this crown as an altar decoration, or leave off the candles and hang it on your door for Imbolc.

You'll need the following supplies:

  • A circular wreath frame, either of straw or grapevine
  • Winter evergreens, such as pine, fir or holly
  • Spring flowers, such as forsythia, dandelions, crocus, snowbulbs
  • Red, silver and white ribbons
  • Candles at least 4" long -- tapers are perfect for this
  • A hot glue gun
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 1 hour
Here's How:
  1. Place the wreath form on a flat surface. Using the hot glue gun, attach the candles around the circle.

    Next, attach a mixture of winter greenery and spring flowers to the wreath. Blend them together to represent the transition between winter and spring. Make it as thick and lush as you can, weaving in and around the candles.

    Wrap the ribbons around the wreath, weaving between the candles. Leave some excess ribbons hanging off, if you plan to hang this on your door or a wall, and then braid it or tie in a bow. If you're using it on an altar, light the candles during rituals to honor Brighid.

What You Need:
  • A wreath form
  • Winter greenery and spring flowers
  • Candles
  • Ribbons

Priapus was a god of fertility, and was always depicted with an erect phallus. In some traditions of Paganism and Wicca, a Priapic wand -- phallus-like in appearance -- is made, and used in ritual to bring forth the new growth of spring. You can easily make one out of a few outside supplies and some bells. This is a simple project for children as well, and they can go outside at Imbolc and shake the bells at the ground and the trees, calling for spring's return.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 30 minutes
Here's How:
  1. First, you'll need the following items:

    • A stick
    • An acorn
    • Craft glue (hot glue works fine as well)
    • Ribbons or yarn in brown, green, yellow, and gold
    • Small bells (get little jingle bells at your local craft store)

    Strip the bark from the stick, and create a small notch on one end. Glue the acorn to the end of the stick.

    When the glue is dry, wrap the stick in the ribbons or yarn beginning at the acorn -- leave extra ribbon at the end to hang down like streamers. Tie the bells on to the end of the streamers.

  2. Use the wand by going outside around the time of Imbolc. Explain to children that the wand symbolizes the god of the forest, or whatever fertility god exists in your tradition. Show them how to shake the bells, pointing the wand at the ground and trees, in order to wake the sleeping plants within the earth. If you like, they can say an incantation as they do so, like:


    Wake, wake, plants in the earth,
    spring is a time of light and rebirth.
    Hear, hear this magical sound,
    and grow, grow, out of the ground.

What You Need:
  • A stick
  • An acorn
  • Ribbons or yarn
  • Small jingly bells

 

Brighid's Bed

One of the things many people find most appealing about Wicca and Paganism is that the deities are not distant entities who never interact those who honor them. Instead, they drop in on us regularly, and Brighid is no exception. To show hospitality to her on Imbolc, her day of honor, you can make a bed for Brighid to lie in. Place it in a position of comfort, as you would for any visitor. Near your hearthfire is a good spot -- if you don't have a fire burning, in the kitchen near the stove is equally welcoming.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 30 minutes
Here's How:
  1. The Brighid's bed is simple to make -- you'll need a small box, or basket. If you want to keep things basic, just line it with a towel or a folded blanket (receiving blankets are perfect for this). If you want to put a little more effort in, stitch up a "mattress" by sewing two rectangles of fabric together, and stuffing them with down or fiberfill. Place this in the basket, and make a pillow in the same manner. Finally, place a warm blanket over the top, and put the bed near your hearth fire.

  2. If you've made a Brighid doll, even better! Place her in the bed before you go to sleep at night. If you don't have a Brighid doll and don't wish to make one, you can use a broom or besom to represent Brighid instead. After all, the broom is an old symbol of female power and the fertility that Brighid represents.

    If you want to bring fertility and abundance into your home this year, make sure Brighid doesn't get lonely in her bed. Place a Priapic wand in there with her to represent the god of your tradition. Remember -- fertility doesn't just mean sexuality. It also applies for financial gain and other abundance.

  3. Once Brighid is in her bed, you can gather around the hearth fire with your family, and welcome your guest with the traditional greeting, spoken three times:


    Brighid is come, Brighid is welcome!


    Leave candles burning beside Brighid throughout the night - place them in a dish of sand or dirt for safety considerations. If you need inspiration in a matter, or wish to work some divinatory magic, stay up throughout the night and meditate, asking Brighid for guidance.

Tips:
  1. If you're trying to concieve a child, place the wand across Brighid in an X shape. This forms the rune "gifu", which means "gift". Another option is to place nuts and seeds in the Brighid's bed as well.
What You Need:
  • A small box or basket
  • Soft, warm blankets or cloth
  • A Brighid doll, if you've made one

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.

 

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.

 

Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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