Tag Archive for: imbolc

Imbolc 2022: Meeting Brigid, Again

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.

candles and a Brigid's cross made of twigs

My 2013 Imbolc altar included a Brigid’s cross I made from twigs found here.

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.

Imbolc 2022: Let There Be Hope

herd of sheep in snowy field are a symbol of Imbolc and hope

Image by scott payne from Pixabay

I had wanted Yule and the end of the Gregorian year to feel magical and peaceful, but 2021 refused to leave quietly. Nor did hanging my new calendar create an instant reset. In addition to the kind of drama which is typical when the family gathers for holidays and our old house gets snowed on, surging COVID-19 cases, a string of natural disasters related to climate change, and the lack of progress towards justice on any front left me feeling wrung out and not the least bit calm or bright.

Still carrying that heaviness, I began to create the ceremony I will offer for Imbolc, the Pagan midwinter festival. “Imbolc” is an Irish word that is translated as “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk,” and marks one of the earliest signs of spring: milk coming in for gestating cows and sheep. Imbolc is usually celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, and associated weather divination is believed to be the root of Groundhog Day. Before there was refrigeration and grocers, the middle of winter was a time when food stores might be getting low. Although we can certainly do without it now, the availability of cow and sheep’s milk then could help humans survive the second half of winter. With the flow of milk came hope.

I look around at the pandemic, devastating weather events and wildfires, and system-based injustices, I hear the anguished cries of frustrated and burnt-out activists, and I say, “Let there be hope.”

It is with the intention to restore hope that I am writing the Imbolc ceremony script. While my reach is limited to the number of people my Zoom room will hold, I know whatever work we do there will reverberate out. The ripples of our hopefulness will flow around the world and reignite passion for change. It doesn’t get more magical than that.

Please join us for a virtual Imbolc ceremony on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022, at 7:30pmEST. You will find more details and easy online registration on my ceremonies page. I hope to see you in the Zoom room.