Friday, February 1, 2008

Brigit's Cross - Traditional Version

How to make a traditional Brigit's Cross...

Supplies:

  • wheat (any type - I used Triticum Natural Green Wheat)
  • rafia, ribbon, twine, cord, or floss
  • clips to hold ends together as you weave (optional)


When you get it home, the wheat will be dry and brittle. In order to get it soft enough to tolerate bending and weaving, you need to soak the stems in water for at least an hour (I typically soak mine for several hours). This is trickier than it sounds. Because the wheat is buoyant, it won't sit in water inside a flower vase or bucket. The easiest and most effective way I've come up with is to fill an old, repurposed cookie sheet (it needs to be one with a lip) with water and place the wheat in it with the heads of the wheat resting on the lip of the sheet.

TIP: Set your sheet of wheat and water near your kitchen sink. It is extremely difficult to move a cookie sheet full of water very far without spilling it.

When the wheat is pliable, you'll be able to fold it in half without breaking it. At this point, pull off any leaves attached to the stalks of your wheat. Set an old kitchen towel on your work surface and place your wheat on it so excess moisture can drain off without making a mess.

Select one piece of wheat and lay it vertically on the table in front of you, with the head of wheat pointing away from you.

Take a second piece of wheat and bend it in half (you don't need to be precise) and hook it around your first piece of wheat. Hook it near the center point, so it extends horizontally, out to the right at a 90 degree angle.

Next, rotate the whole thing counterclockwise, 90 degrees. Take a third piece of wheat, bend it in half, and hook it over and around the second piece, parallel to the bottom half of the first.

At this point, the center of your Brigit's Cross should look like this:


Continue in this fashion and each time, turn the entire piece counterclockwise, 90 degrees. After each turn, hook a new piece of wheat over and around the center, ensuring it extends horizontally to the right. As you progress, the center will grow larger and you will start to see the weave pattern emerge.

video

Once you have reached a size you are happy with (I like to have 7 heads of wheat on each arm of the Brigit's Cross), begin to tighten up the weave in the center by gently pulling and pressing the wheat into place. As you do, tie the arms off with rafia, twine, or whatever you prefer. You may need to tie each arm both at the center and the end, just before the heads of wheat. You also may need to trim off some ends of wheat that may be sticking out in random spots. Your finished product should look something like this:


Hang your Brigit's Cross in your home on Imbolc night with a prayer for protection for all that live there. As I mentioned in yesterday's Imbolc primer, I craft a new Brigit's Cross every year at Imbolc and as part of my personal observance, burn the previous year's cross in our family hearth. Have fun with this craft and create your own traditions around it.

A kid-friendly version of this Conjure Craft, using pipe cleaners instead of wheat, will be posted shortly.

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