Friday, 15 January 2010

Imbolc Crafts: Brighid’s Cross

The first of the Imbolc crafts that we are trying (other than the Ice candle) is a cross. Littleun is a bit young so I thought he might find this fiddly but in fact the calm repetitive method seemed to appeal to him and after a few attempts was soon well away. We did a crazy amount of these so will be giving some to friends who hopefully will like them! Again I have used for the following information, so many thanks to them.

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-centre 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 shops 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.

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 centres, 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.

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.

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.

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.

EDIT: I've just posted this and then gone on to read other folks blogs, Pagan Dad has also posted about the crosses today, that'll teach me to read others before blogging mine, lol!

1 comment:

Janeykins said...

Thanks for your really clear instructions and diagrams! We celebrate Imbolc on Saturday, and I want to make Brigit's Crosses with the coven before our ritual!

Asppara Dantalian