Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism, for the Novice to the Crone
Imbolc rituals often involve a corn dolly and a phallic Wand…
As we know, Imbolc rituals often involve a corn dolly (really a wheat dolly), or “Biddy,” and a phallic Wand, set together in a “bed” near a real or symbolic fireplace to invoke and encourage the Year’s fertility and creativity. Making the Biddy and decorating the Wand and the Bed are pleasant activities that the whole family can enjoy— as a folk custom (when acknowledging it as religious it will be contentious).
A Bride Dolly
If you have stalks of grain, you can use them to fashion your new dolly—but not many of us do have grain left over, so if you can’t find wheat stalks at a craft shop, you can use raffia instead. Sometimes you can find already-braided segments, and you need two or three of them to fashion a dolly.
To make one of raffia, leaving some fringe at each end, braid two sections, one heftier and longer than the other; fasten the ends with rubber bands, or tie them with string or yarn. Fold the bigger one over, so that the braided section can be the Biddy’s head and torso. The shorter, thinner braid will cross between the stands of the braid, and form the arms. Using a bit more raffia (a different color is fine), tie the pieces together securely. You should have a bit of fringe at the end of each “arm” and a longer, thicker fringe to make the Biddy’s skirt.
Now you can dress the biddy. Make a small garland of tiny silk flowers (the ones they sell in the bridal section of craft stores are good for this, and the narrow cloth ribbons that come decorated with tiny ribbon flowers are appropriate, too) for her head. Make her a shawl or a cape of pretty scraps of lace, and fasten it with a pretty pin or with a faux jewel glued in place. You can, if you like, add lacy or floral decorations to her skirt as well.
You hardly need directions for this. You can use a wide range of materials: the cardboard core of a paper towel roll, a drumstick, and various dried plant materials. Ideally, one end will be slightly larger than the other—this is a phallic symbol, after all—but you must use your own discretion about how obvious to be. The ends of the wand can be distinguished just as easily by decoration. Twining green and white ribbon up the stem and tying a bow at the top is fine. Some people like to glue a pine cone to one end of the wand stem, and that’s fine too. The only cautions I will offer is to mind that nobody puts an eye out with it, and to keep the Wand proportionate to the Dolly, rather than vastly smaller or larger.
The Bride Bed
In most of our rites, after preparing the ritual space, we invite the Goddess and God to join our Circle. In addition to showing respect to our deities, this is another expression of the hospitality that is so important in the Celtic cultures from which Wicca developed. When we make a Bride Dolly and a Wand, we’re inviting the Goddess and God to bless us at Imbolc, and we must then also offer Them the hospitality of our homes and hearths. To do this, many Wiccans make
a Bride Bed.
Just as there are many ways we can accommodate our overnight guests on the material plane—on the living room couch, on a sofa bed in the den, or in a guest room—there are many ways to make a Bride Bed. How you make yours will depend in part on the size of your Dolly and Wand. Anything from decorated shoe boxes to furniture- like constructions from twigs or hand-worked wood will do. Our coven used a flat, oval flower basket, its handle decorated with ribbons, bits of faux fir swags, silk buds, and tiny decorative birds.
Every year we redressed our Biddy, and freshened up the Bride Bed. We didn’t always have a fireplace at the covenstead, so our custom was to set the Bride Bed at the South Quarter of our Circle. (Kitties don’t intend any disrespect, and I’m sure the Gods don’t take offense when Their symbols become cat toys, but even when we moved to a coven stead that did have a fireplace, we continued to place the Bride Bed in the Circle, where the kitties wouldn’t be able to disturb it.)
Copyright © 2008 Gray Seal
This Informative “Wicca How-To,” plus much more, can be found in:
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