The following meditation is one that I frequently use for myself, as well as use in rituals for White Cat Grove. The central images are Brighid’s well and the bile, or sacred tree, upon which strips of cloth are hung. In Ireland, wells are sacred to Brighid – the goddess and later the saint – and the destination for pilgrims seeking healing even today. As Irish monk Sean O’Duinn notes in The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint, strips of cloth were frequently hung on the sacred trees located beside holy wells, perhaps as means to transfer illness away from the body.
On a practical note, solitaries performing the meditation can either record it themselves or, if more experienced, memorize the basic sequence of images and see where it takes them. I’ve included pauses for those who are reading the meditation to others. The best way to make sure the pauses are long enough is to go on the journey yourself, splitting your consciousness just enough to read and see at the same time.
Use whatever trance induction works for you. The one I use most frequently is descending a staircase into the Earth, with the stairs shifting from red to orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and then white before ending at the gate to the Otherworld. I use a frame drum as a trance “steed” or ritual tool; feel free to use your bell branch, a rattle or go without, as your spirit calls you.
Follow the beat of the drum, deeper and deeper into the Otherworld. (Pause.) Settle yourself under the Otherworldly Tree, the World Tree, the axis mundi that links the worlds within and without. Settle in and let yourself see or feel this tree; let your mind wander until the vision comes into focus. Let the drum guide you, focusing your attention. How does the tree appear to you? (Pause)
The tree is the starting place on our journey today. Breathe in and out, in and our. Standing beneath the tree, let your eyes skim the landscape of the Otherworld. What do you see? What sort of land lies before you? Is it day or night? What season is it? (Pause)
Today, we shall journey to Brighid’s well, her holy well of healing. Call for a guide to come to you, speaking from the depths of your heart. (Pause) Who or what is this guide? Greet your guide and ask to be taken to the well. (Pause) Your guide begins to lead you there. Where does the road lead you, through what landscape, in what direction? Notice your journey, for the path has meaning in and of itself. (Pause)
You arrive at the well. See how it appears to you. Does it have the rough-hewn loveliness of nature, or has it been ringed by stones or decorated by human hands? Is it open to the sky, or covered by a roof – the thatch of the countryside or the majestic shaping of stone? (Pause)
On one side of the well, you see a tree decorated with ribbons and streamers of cloth. They are clooties, prayers to Brighid tied on its branches. What sort of tree is it? Look closely. (Pause) At its foot is a basket containing ribbons. Take one and notice its color. (Pause) If you feel moved, tie one on the trees branches to ask a prayer of Brighid. (Pause)
Now, we go to the side of the well for a prayer. If you wish it, your guide will offer you a ball or tablet of clay to shape into a prayer for healing. You can shape this into an image of a body part or person you wish to heal, or use a stylus to write your prayer on the tablet. Take some time to do this, if you choose. (Pause)
Now, walk up to the well and gaze into it. What is it you see? (Pause) Place your prayer into the waters. There is a ladle at the side of the well; you can use it to drink its waters or pour them over yourself. Take a moment to do this, if you wish. (Pause)
Your guide beckons that it is time to go. Give your thanks to Brighid, the well, the tree, this holy place. (Pause) Follow your guide back along the path, back to the Otherworldly Tree where we began. (Pause) Take a moment to thank your guide. (Pause)
Now slowly open your eyes. Shake yourself out. Slap your cheeks, pull your earlobes and stamp your feet. Welcome back!