· How does one tend the Flame of Brighid? Is there an actual fire or is it more on an
Yes, we tend an actual fire. We ask that Flamekeepers light a candle,
lantern, hearth fire, campfire, or whatever, and tend the flame for as much as possible on the
day that they choose as their shift (once every 20 days - 19 shifts plus one day that Brighid
tends Herself as She did historically.)
We would of course want
you to take safety into consideration as well as the confines of your life, but the more of
the day you can tend the better. The day runs from sundown to sundown as the traditional'
Celtic' day ran from sundown to sundown.
We hope that through
everyone's effort we will be sending forth into the universe an eternally tended flame for
Brighid in the spirit of the historic Kildare flame.
·I have been studying Brighid and I know of the fire at Kildare, so is this a model of it?
The flame that we are tending is symbolic of the ancient flame tended in Kildare in historic times.
The flame was rekindled on Imbolc (Brighid's Day) in 1993 by the Daughters of the Flame in Canada (our sister order). By coincidence, the flame was also rekindled in Kildare, Ireland that same day by Mary Teresa Cullen of the Brigidine Sisters and has been tended since then at Solas Bhride in Kildare. On February 2, 2006, a perpetual flame in Brighid's honor was lit in the town center of Kildare. Flamekeepers around the world have been tending as members of Ord Brighideach since 1997.
Some Flamekeepers tend using the "Kildare Flame" which is passed in the wick of a candle. Many get the flame from visiting Kildare or from a friend. If you would like an Ord Brighideach Kildare, you can contact the "Keeper of the Flame" here.
You may use any kind of flame you
like: candle, hearth fire, campfire, etc.
Some of us enjoy using a
liquid paraffin lamp, and we highly recommend lanterns or lamps with a chimney or other
enclosed flame. Old fashion hurricane lamps work wonderfully, and can be modified for
use with liquid paraffin by removing the traditional wick and replacing it with a glass
incased fiberglass wick.
You will want a flame that will burn for 24
hours. Seven day candles work, as do most old fashion hurricane lamps. Firelight
Glass, whose lamps can be purchased at many candle stores, has several models with chimneys
that burn over 24 hours. They also carry the fiberglass wicks. If you can't find a
store near you, you may want to check out the Firelight Glass website or the Glass Dimensions website. (The wicks on Firelight lamps tend to be
nicer. If you buy a Glass Dimensions' lamp and don't like the wick, you might replace it
with a Firelight wick.) If you are looking for an old fashion hurricane lamp, we
recommend your local antique stores. One ounce of oil burns for about 8 hours, so you
would probably want at least a 4 oz. vessel.
Michael Dames in
Mythic Ireland tells us that many Irish homes had a Brighid's lamp. They were
generally made from bronze, wood or stone and suspended from the roof with 3 cords or
chains. The lamp pictured by Dames is vulva shaped and decorated with sun symbols
including a Brighid's belt design.
·When you say "Tend the fire," What is actually meant by this? Is it just seeing to the
needs of the candle, lantern, etc. or is it more than that? Is time spent in contemplation of
Brighid herself or in meditation?
Tending the flame means on the bare bones level keeping a
flame in honor of Brighid lit. Many Flamekeepers spend at least part of the time in
contemplation/prayer/meditation/ritual on that day, but this is left up to each Flamekeeper as
we each have come to our dedication to Brighid on our own path.
·I would like to become a Flamekeeper. However, I need to know if I absolutely must keep my candle burning constantly for 24 hours...I have cats, and I am afraid to leave an unattended candle burning, especially when I go to bed.
No, you don't have to keep the flame going for 24 hours straight if it is unsafe or you are otherwise unable.
Many Flamekeepers have cats and have come up with solutions that seem to meet their needs. Some use the tall jar type candles used in many churches which go out if knocked over. Others, leave their candles in the middle of a sink or tub of water. I have my lamp with chimney on a high mantle-type shelf screwed into the wall which my cats can not jump up onto. Another idea is to use a hanging lantern or lamp, or a hanging bird bath filled partly with water with a low profile lamp in the middle. Some use electric or battery operated candles when they aren't present.
The most important thing is that you tend safely, even if that means only tending the flame when you are present.
· What if I have to travel or just otherwise can't tend the flame at all.
even 5 minutes is enough. However, you might want to charge a special stone, a garnet or ruby
for example, and carry it with you. Or you might consider using an LED candle. Your
intent can go a long way. You can also ask someone else to tend for you on that day.
·Is there any ritual involved or is it a personal matter left up to the one who tends the Flame?
On your first day to tend the Flame, we ask that you give an oath to Brighid and to your dedication to tending the flame as a Flamekeeper of Ord Brighideach. You may also add any other oaths or create any type of dedication ritual or ceremony you would like. Many Flamekeepers pray, mediate, use prayer beads, or have some sort contemplation time each shift they tend, but this is left up to you.
You will probably have a time or two when you
get busy and the day slips by. When you remember, go ahead and tend Her flame for the next 24
hours or as soon as you are able. And don't worry about it! Just do your best. If you fall
away from tending (versus just forgetting a time or two), you should pass your flame to
another and resign from the Order.
You might investigate the the calendar link,
there's a way to send yourself email reminders of your shifts!
Please note that the day listed on the calendar is the day a Flamekeeper would start their shift. For example, if the calendar says "January 8th" is the 1st shift, then Flamekeepers holding the 1st shift would begin tending on January 8th at sundown and continue through January 9th until sundown.
This is in keeping with Celtic tradition that the new day begins at sundown.
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