Tending Brighid’s Flame: Flamekeeping Shift Ideas

It’s my flamekeeping shift again for the Cauldron Cill and I wanted to share a brainstormy list of things to do when it’s time to keep Brighid’s flame. Flamekeeping is, by its nature, already an act separate from everyday life; once every twenty days I light a candle, sing songs, and wear jewelry that remain untouched and unused the other nineteen days of the shift cycle. However, I cannot and don’t wish to spend an entire 24-hour period in deep, spiritual contemplation and communion with Brighid, if for no other reason than life goes on and I don’t want to miss it by literally tending an open flame between sundown and sundown. Also because psychologically and spiritually speaking, my focus doesn’t work that way. I cannot be engaged all the time. I doubt many of us can. After all, I’m not a trained priest(ess) but instead a layperson looking to work more closely with Brighid on my own terms and on my own turf. As much as I am drawing closer to Brighid through the honor of tending Her flame once a cycle, I’m also inviting Brighid to draw closer to me. And my life, such as it is in this very moment, is as much a part of my flamekeeping practice as the literal candle flame to mark Brighid’s presence.

I’ve been inspired by the Puzzle of Life with Religion Worksheet over at Fluid Morality, which encourages practitioners (of any faith tradition) to seek religion in the mundane areas of our lives and to see those same mundane areas as something already sacred. In that spirit I’ve started a list of things to do during a flamekeeping shift. (Obviously not all during one shift. There’s a lot in there!) Some suggestions are more traditionally religiousy, like reciting prayer and reading myths. Others I’ve pulled from my own experience of incorporating Brighid’s Work into my own life. I expect this list to grow – and, perhaps with time, I hope to go into more detail with each item on the list.


Things to Do While Keeping Brighid’s Flame (a list)

  1. Pray
  2. Read myths
  3. Meditate
  4. Housework
  5. Homework (yes, it can be sacred too)
  6. Cook
  7. Bake
  8. Spend time with animals
  9. Engage in self-care
  10. Volunteer
  11. Donate time/money/goods to a food pantry
  12. Get crafty (especially things like knitting, weaving, or quilting)
  13. Reach out to friends and family
  14. Write. Write all the things.
  15. Visit a body of water
  16. Listen to music
  17. Memorize and recite poetry
  18. Create art or music
  19. Talk with other Brighid kids
  20. Research your family tree
  21. Study a social justice issue


Those are just what popped into my head after two minutes of brainstorming. Can you think of anything else? What do you do during a flamekeeping shift?


Flamekeeping for 11/26/12

I belong to Cauldron Cill, a flamekeeping group (no, not that kind of Flamekeeping) dedicated to the Gaelic goddess Brighid. Known by many names – the Scottish Bride, the Continental Brigantia, the Catholic St. Brigit – Brighid is a fiery triple goddess of healing, smithcraft, and poetry, the flames of inspiration as well as the fires that burn brightly in every home’s hearth. In a flamekeeping group, members take rotating shifts over a 20-day period to keep Brighid’s flame – lighting candles, saying prayers, perhaps wearing special jewelry – with the Lady Herself taking the shift on the 20th day. Last night my shift began, and a few hours ago it ended. And wouldn’t you know, I have some experiences and musings I’d like to share with you.

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Keeping Brighid’s Flame

Glorious Lady, sing to the mountains.
Light of the lantern, rejoice in the sky.
Seat of compassion, dance among flames.
Dweller in-between, ascend from the well.

Seeker of wisdom, what truths do I seek?
Mother of righteousness, whom shall I aid?
Queen of the just, which hex shall I break?
Great Illuminator, what stories must I tell?

Brighid has been in my life little over half a year, but Her impact on my spirituality has been enormous. I’ve spoken elsewhere about my struggles regarding belief, faith, and trust in both myself and the gods. For many years I considered myself an atheist or agnostic Pagan, and this story is not meant to look down upon those who are; I have the greatest respect for secular philosophies and wholeheartedly support their role in the continuing discussion of religious freedoms and the separation of church and state in America. For myself, however, my disbelief was never a choice, nor was it empowering or natural for me. Ultimately I’m a romantic at heart, truly wanting to believe in everything, envying those for whom belief comes so naturally. Even as a Christian, convinced I was on the Right, True, and Only Path©, my relationship with Jesus was constantly strained and undermined by constant doubt and guilt-ridden questioning. I was taught to ignore what I truly felt in my heart because if it wasn’t like that of others’ in my church – an intense, unwavering, occasionally ecstatic communion with the Son of God – then I just didn’t know my own heart that well.

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