Today is a day dedicated to the goddess of healing and of sacred wells. So she is particularly special to us here at Wellspring Stones. Known by many names, in the Celtic tradition, she is Brigid, the lady of hearth and home as well as the primordial midwife. In addition to healing, midwifery and wellsprings, this mother goddess is also the goddess of poetry, birthing, memory, intuition and metal and other crafts and female creativity. She is a powerful one!
In Celtic culture, Brigid’s holiday is known as Imbolc. Pronounced IMM bolk, this day is dedicated to her and to all she governs. In the northern hemisphere, the start of February is at the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. As the first fire festival in the Celtic seasons, Imbolc celebrates the fire of life that is beginning to reawaken all around us as well as the return of the sun.
Coming exactly nine months after the May 1st festival of Beltane, this the time when the love-making and fertility enjoyed back then comes to fruition. Babies of all kinds are birthed. Through the fire rituals associated with this day, we honor the fire and electricity of life. Now, as the earth begins to stir and the buds start to form, the life force which has been dormant begins to light up into the wonder of life.
Many practices to honor Brigid have been passed down through the ages. Because of her deep rooted popularity, Christians adapted this fire festival and turned it into Candlemas. Candlemas is celebrated every February 2nd, and Christians bless all the candles for the year to mark the power and symbolism of fire. And the goddess Brigid (sometimes spelled Brighid) became Saint Brigid of Kildare. In fact in Kildare Ireland, the nuns maintain a perpetual, sacred flame in her honor.
Today is St. Brigid’s saint’s day, and Imbolc, long associated with the mother goddess, is also the first day of spring. The Celts marked their seasons based on their farm life and took their seasonal cues from the earth rather than from the stars, skies and sun. So their holidays are closer tied to the land. All the days that mark the beginning of their seasons are known as thin times or “Witches’ Days,” when fairies dance and party and make mischief. This year this Imbolc coincides with a powerful super moon, close to the earth, and a blue moon, the second full moon of the month. These lunar phenomena magnify the potency of Brigid’s influence this year because of the connection of the moon with female energy.
The root of Imbolc is possibly from the Old Irish imb-fholc, which means “to wash or to cleanse oneself.” So ritual cleansings were an essential part of marking her day where worshipper would purify themselves and their lives with ceremonial washings. Another possible source for Imbolc could also be i mbolg, which translates as “in the belly,” and traditional rituals practiced also celebrated the birth of new beginnings and promoted the protection young innocence. They are intended to foster memory, insight and intuition and encourage a renewed dedication to the fight for truth and justice.
One lasting symbol of this day is the Brigid cross. Along with the shamrock and the harp, the Brigid cross is a key symbol of Ireland. Believed to be far older than Christianity, this cross is traditionally made from rushes on February 1st. The cross is hung in the home to ward off hunger, evil, fire and destruction. See the links below to learn more including a wonderful story about her cloak and acres of land.
Today, the Irish Embassy in London is marking St. Brigid’s Day by celebrating the creativity of women. They’ve invited female poets, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, singers, actors and more. Find a way to celebrate the female creators in your life. Here are 12 other contemporary ideas to mark St. Brigid’s day.
Sanctify your altar, temple room, yoga room or bathroom, or all of them.
Refresh and rededicate your sacred space.
Thank a teacher who “midwifed” you.
This person could be a soul midwife or anyone who helped you to transform and grow.
Reach out to thank them for their role in your evolution.
Walk outside and actively look for any signs of spring.
Let us know what you see in the comments!
Visit your favorite body of water –
a lake, the ocean, a river, or a waterfall and be mindful to enjoy the smells and sounds.
Express gratitude for the purification and healing power of water.
To purify your home, clean your entire space to dust away all old, stale and wintery influences.
Bless your candles with a prayer of gratitude and dedication.
And then after dusk, light a candle in every room of your home.
Invite the protective blessing of Brigid, the mother goddess, to safeguard you
and all who enter your home by blessing your doorway.
Ask her to make your home a nurturing wellspring for all who live there and visit.
Embody your essential truth and uphold justice by becoming involved in a civic protest, encouraging those who work to promote fairness and by supporting those who feel like outsiders in our society.
Practice your craft with purpose – whether an artistic endeavor or professional career. Rededicate yourself.
Bring stirring and new life into your home with either a plant or flowers.
Help to support or heal another. Bring a meal to a sick friend.
Offer to accompany a friend to a doctor’s appointment.
Host a dinner for your girlfriends and share what you yearn to create in your lives.
I leave you with a prayer ::
I am the unopened bud, and I am the blossom,
I am the lifeforce gathering to a crest,
I am the companion of the silence,
I am the farflung seeker of the quest.
I am the daughter gathering wisdom,
I am the son whose questions never cease,
I am the dawn-light searching out glad justice,
I am the center where all souls find peace. 1
1 Matthews, Caitlin. Celtic Devotional Daily Prayers & Blessings. (Harmony Books: New York) 1996, p. 46.
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"I am the daughter gathering wisdom,
I am the dawn-light searching out glad justice,
I am the center where all souls find peace."