How to Make a St. Brigid’s Cross

The design of the St. Brigid’s Cross straddles the pagan and Christian worlds. While it is a cross, it is also similar in design to fylfot or swastika, a profound symbol found worldwide. Possibly derived from a pagan sun wheel, the cross reinforces Brigid’s role as a sun goddess.

With a woven square in the center and four radials tied at the ends, these crosses are still used in Ireland today to protect the harvest and farm animals. The crosses are usually left in place for a year and replaced on the following St. Brigid’s Day.

In our post on how to celebrate this season, we suggested you might want to try making a St.Brigid’s Cross. Here’s how to do it:

The crosses are traditionally made from rushes or reeds (from the Irish bogs). If reeds aren’t available, natural grasses, straw, wheat, vines or another easily bendable material can be used. Look for basket making materials at your local craft store. If you are using dried materials, you will probably need to soak them first for about 2 hours in warm water to make them workable.

Alternatively (or if you’re making these with kids), you can use pipe cleaners or plastic drinking straws. If you use straws, you’ll find it more attractive (and less slippery) if you wrap the straws with masking tape first. Simply tear off a length of tape a little longer than the straws and then wrap each straw individually in the tape before you begin.

Materials:

14 long, bendable reeds, or whatever material you choose

4 small rubber bands or lengths of twine (you can also use additional rushes to tie the ends, but this usually doesn’t hold as securely as you might like)

To make the cross:

Note: These instructions assume you are working with the traditional reeds. If you are using other materials, simply substitute that every place you see “reed” in the directions.

1.  Take two reeds (or other material) and place them together in a cross pattern. Take another reed and fold it in half over the far right half of the horizontal reed (see Diagram 1). Keep the reed snug to the center of the cross.

Diagram 1

2.  Holding the junction tightly, turn the entire piece 90 degrees to the left. Fold another reed in the same fashion over the far right half the current horizontal reed (see Diagram 2). Keep holding it tightly and pushing each new addition on snugly. (Think: “Add to the right, turn to the left.”)

Diagram 2

Continue on this way until you have one reed left to use. Start folding this reed over in the manner described above but pull out the folded end of the bottom reed just below and thread the ends of this last reed though it. Then, gently push that prior reed back in place, securing your work. (See the video below for an illustration of this.)

At this point, you should have wrapped three reeds around each of the four directions. Since the reeds are folded in half, this gives you 6 ends, plus the original reed, for a total of 7. In this way, the cross represents the month of February, with four weeks (the 4 radials), each with 7 days (the seven reeds).

If the ends of your cross are uneven or longer than you would like, trim them to equal lengths. Secure each end by wrapping a rubber band around it or tying it with twine.

Put your cross at the entrance to your house or just inside the front door as a blessing and protection for your home.

Here’s a video that I’m sure explains the process better than I have. (Anyway, as we all know, a picture’s worth a thousand words…and a moving picture probably even more than that!)

YouTube Preview Image

To display all related posts, enter “Brigid” in the Search box.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly
Share and Enjoy:
  • email
  • RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Mixx
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • BlinkList
  • connotea

Comments

  1. stevie mack says:

    Kitty, The St. Brigid’s cross design and directions are very cool. The cross has a timeless feel, encompassing an antique to a very contemporary style. Of course, I have the benefit of seeing the real cross that you made because I work in the same office. Another great benefit is tasting the oatmeal cinnamon raisin bread you baked. It has been a tasty morning! I highly recommend your recipe to our readers. They will not be disappointed. I would write more but another piece of bread is calling me.

Trackbacks

  1. | Art & Soul says:

    [...] to light your fire of inspiration, why not try your hand at writing a poem? Or you may prefer to make a Brigid’s Cross. A woven cross that incorporates both Christian and pagan symbolism, these crosses are still widely [...]

  2. [...] the Saint to bless. The faithful would also lay out rushes (the same kind that are used to make the St. Brigid’s cross) for her to kneel on while blessing the [...]