Rite of Childbirth

The midwife or a family member shall consecrate a cauldron of water or a well, a fire altar kindled with nine sacred woods or of oak, and a Bile (staff or sacred tree).

THE FIRE ALTAR

The fire in the fire altar shall be lit by the sun focused through a crystal, by a “thunderstone” (flint), by a fire drill (using powdered  mistletoe as tinder), or from “wildfire” gathered from a lightening strike. The fire thus kindled shall be known as sacred fire. The officiant shall circle the fire altar sunwise three times offering ghee, oil or butter to the flames saying;

“Brighid! Great Goddess of healing and inspiration. Spread your cloak of protection around — as she enters her time of travail. Spread your cloak as well upon the little one who prepares to travel from one world to the next”.

THE SACRED CAULDRON

The officiant then moves to the cauldron or well and pours water into it from other sacred wells, or water gathered during a thunderstorm, or water consecrated by a Full Moon or by the sun on a Holy Day (one of the four Fire Festivals), or by sea water gathered from the ninth wave. Water thus gathered shall be known as sacred water.

The officiant circles the cauldron three times, pouring sacred water into it and visualizing the passage from one existence to the next, from one Ocean of Being to another, from Life to Life and saying;

“Like a half moon he/she is, outside of one world and not yet in the next, a spirit moving from the womb of one existence to the womb of another. Make his/her passage smooth, O Manannan. Make his/her way easy as she/he dies to the Otherworld. Open wide the gates of this world to him/her that we may soon see her/his face. Blessed Manannan make it so!”

THE SACRED TREE

The officiant shall address a sacred tree (or a staff planted ceremonially to represent a Bile) saying;

“Sister tree! Spirit who moves between the worlds with ease, from the above to the below, from the below to the above, root to branch, branch to root. Help guide this child as she/he moves from one World to the next. Send him/her strength and fortify his/her life”.

After the birth the placenta can be offered to the tree and the cord wrapped around its branches. This tree will ever after hold special significance for the child and for its family so the selection of such a tree should be done with care.

RITE OF BIRTHING

When the child emerges from the womb and the cord has been safely tied the midwife or a relative shall take it and hold it over the fire altar, passing it over the fire to the father who shall pass it back three times saying;

“May you be blessed all your days by holy fire and by the shining sun”.

Then he shall walk three times sunwise around the fire altar carrying the child.

The midwife or the father or another relative shall then carry the child to the sacred cauldron or to a bath into which a coin has been placed. He or she shall gently wash the child by pouring nine wavelets of water upon it saying;

“In the name of Brighid and of Manannan, nine blessings of water upon you. A blessing on your form that it be strong and beautiful to behold, a blessing on your voice that it be melodious, a blessing on your speech that it be eloquent, a blessing on your means that you may never want, a blessing on your generosity that you be always hospitable, a blessing on your appetite that it always be hale, a blessing on your wealth that you be prosperous, a blessing on your life that it be long, a blessing on your health that it be constant”

Then three drops shall be placed on the child’s brow saying;

“No seed of Faery nor airy host nor human foe may best you. no evil eye nor envy nor malice disturb thy sleep or thy waking. May the loving arms of Brighid surround you and shield you this night and day and every day and night”.

Copyright 1999, Ellen Evert Hopman