There is a very interesting new flame-tending and well-tending group I've been made aware of. I like the inclusion of the well for those who are drawn more to that aspect of Brigidine devotion. Note that what Éireann is looking for is a close-knit group, rather than the more loosely organized community of mostly solitary flame-tenders that other groups generally consist of.
I'll give you the blurb from their yahoo site and then a brief note from their founder, Éireann nighean Brighde Johnson:
Nigheanan Brighde, Daughters of Brìde, is a Celtic Polytheist Order of Flame Keepers & Well Tenders for Brìde.
Nigheanan Brighde's goals are as follows:
1- To function as a flame keeping and well tending order firmly rooted in the traditional, polytheist Celtic cultural worldview and accordingly supporting, studying, and participating in traditional Celtic cultural expressions;
2- To tend the Sacred Living Flame of Brìde through keeping vigils over our portion of the flame in shifts;
3- To tend the Sacred Healing Well of Brìde through stewardship of the waters of the world by tending a watery location such as a section of a river or lake where each of us lives;
4- To forge deep communal bonds between Flame Keepers/Well Tenders through sharing our vigil experiences with each other, holding regular Chat sessions, and extending community-building beyond the bounds of the internet;
5- To explore the aspect of Brìde which has a special connection to women and women's wisdom.
As is traditional, this order will be a sisterhood of women. While male flame keeping is not frowned upon by Nigheanan Brighde, we cherish the inherent gifts of working in female-only space.
I asked Éireann what inspired her to start the order. This is her reply:
I have flame tended in the past with Ord Brighideach, on two different occasions, but ultimately what I longed for was a close community with the fellow flame tenders of my cill, and that didn't seem to be how the cills operated. It was in the end a very solitary experience and I didn't enjoy that.
After I left the second time I briefly facilitated an online meditation group dedicated to Brìde in which we would all meditate on Her once a week and then post to an email list about our experiences, but it fizzled out.
Later I ran across a blog which was a site for an independent flame tending group in which members blogged about their shifts and I was really drawn to that kind of sharing together of each member's experiences with Brìde. I tried to join, but the group seemed defunct at that time.
In the meantime I ran across a women's Celtic spirituality group online which included a well-tending practice and mentioned Brìde, and I was very drawn to this idea of participating in a devotional to Her watery side. The group also incorporated a flame tending circle but they worked separately. The overall membership in this group was deeply involved and not something I could pursue participating in.
I also got involved with another independent flame tending cill for awhile which has a tradition of a member's exchange at Imbolc, and I really liked the idea of breaking free of the internet constraints to connect with fellow flame tenders. The group was less social overall than I had hoped for however, and so I did not remain with them.
I also noticed that the Celtic polytheist worldview was not a focus of any one cill, and, while I do appreciate the bridging aspect of a group consisting of both Christians and pagans, I felt that as the original flame tending community was religiously and culturally homogenous and that this facet likely helped member bonding, I'd like to see such a group rooted in the Celtic Polytheist tradition.
Finally, I feel a special pull to women-only groups, and as the original flame tending was centered around women, I felt there was some special relationship alluded to there between Brìde and women, and I desired to actively explore that in the company and community of other women devoted to Her.
All of these ideas brewed inside me, percolated, and came out as a new kind of Brìde-devoted sisterhood in which members would commit to: sharing their flame tending vigils online each time so we could grow in our understanding of Her through all of our experiences and offer each other support as needed; to dedicating ourselves to a regional watery location such as a riverbank or lakeside or well to tend at least once seasonally by cleaning up trash and leaving prayers and offerings as a way to both meditate on Brìde's connection with water and to forge a mindful relationship with our own lands; to being firmly rooted together in the Celtic Polytheist tradition; and to further forge community by both holding group chats for as many members as could attend on each 20th shift, and by creating together an Imbolc exchange tradition.
Our group is not yet full. We began actively tending at Samhain and so far it has been a wonderful experience which I hope will continue to blossom for all of us, and for those members yet to come. To the best of my knowledge, this is a truly unique kind of flame-tending group and experience. It is not suited to the solitary or casual tender, however; but, for those willing to commit to deep community through Brìde, I think if offers a special opportunity to such women.
I am thankful for the long and winding road Brìde has set me on which has brought me here and to all those who have influenced and inspired me along the way.