My year of Druidic studies was intended to be ecology-focused, but I find I am curiously revisiting the Celtic pantheon as well. The goddess Brigid, who is honored at Imbolc, was one I had gotten to know in 2013. I opened my journal from that time and saw that I had noted that after Imbolc that year I had been drawn to all things Celtic and Druid for a while. Funny how I find myself there again.
Brigid is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the fey who ruled Ireland until Milesius’ invaders (the “final Irish”) sent them into hiding in the fairy mounds. She is a mother goddess with three aspects. She is the patroness of poetry and the creative arts, and was revered by the Bards, who memorized her in poetry in the Druid oral tradition.
Brigid the patroness of healing and fertility, particularly the fertility of ewes, dairy cows and other livestock. Herbal medicine and midwifery are part of her healing arts. She is also the patroness of smithcraft and the martial arts, and so was honored by the warriors who, at the time, would have battled with swords.
Fire, particularly the hearth fire, is associated with Brigid. At Imbolc, her fire energy is represented by lots of candles, and some people include making candles for the year ahead as part of their Imbolc activities. Although the fire that warms our house is hidden in a furnace, I have an appreciation for the importance of the hearth fire for comfort and survival during cold North Country winters.
Brigid is also associated with water, but mainly wells and springs. These are thought to be portals to other worlds and are a source of wisdom and healing. There are many springs in Ireland named for Brigid. Her ties to both water and smithcraft may have given her a place in the Arthur legends, which I love. Some believe that the Lady of the Lake, who forged Excalibur, King Arthur’s unbeatable sword, was Brigid.
Imbolc crafts include Brigid’s crosses, small, equal armed crosses typically woven from rushes. The crosses were hung on doors and windows of homes and barns for protection. She was so beloved that she was made a Catholic saint and Imbolc is now called St. Brigid’s Day in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and some Anglican churches.
Please celebrate Imbolc with me, virtually, on Thursday, February 3, 2022. Visit the ceremonies page for details and registration.