Archives for February 2018

Happy Imbolc!

1st and 2nd February marks the Celtic festival of Imbolc (pronounced Imolc), an honouring of the first stirrings of new life. Outside, trees are beginning to bud, the snowdrops and crocuses are blooming and the birds are definitely getting flirty!

Imbolc means ‘in the belly’, referring to sheep who are pregnant at this time as well as the fertility of the Earth herself. Another name for this festival is Oimelc which means ‘ewe’s milk’ which was an important supplement to our early ancestor’s diet.

Central to the festival is Brighid, the Celtic triple goddess. In early times she was represented in three parts: one would hold a baby, another a sheaf of grain and a third a scroll to represent knowledge. This has been replaced by the modern triplicity of maiden, mother and crone; crone being linked to the word crown and meaning wise woman.

At one time, Brighid was worshipped all across Britain and Ireland and was the particular goddess of the Brigantes tribe in Northern England. Today she is still associated with wells and springs such as Bride’s Well in Glastonbury. She is also the same goddess as Brigantia after whom Britain was named – Britannia was the Roman version of her name.

With the coming of Christianity Brighid became demoted to St Brigid/Brigit, her associations making her the midwife of Christ. Her holy day of Imbolc was then transformed into Candlemas, a remaining vestige of her fire worship. However, solar wheels made of straw or willow and wool, otherwise known as Brighid’s crosses, are still popular protection and blessing in Ireland and across Celtic borders. Corn dollies are also sometimes made and dressed to represent a ‘bride’ and encourage fertility and virility of body or mind.

There are several beautiful and helpful ways to honour Brighid energy, which represents sovereignty both of the nation and of ourselves in the sense of personal power, fertility and the bonds of home, hearth and family. For us in the twenty first century, this might mean honouring the time needed to nourish ourselves with food, rest and knowledge, for example. Try cleansing any negative energy that may have built up in your house over the winter and then lighting a white candle and blessing the flame so that it brings health and protection into your home. It is also lovely to help the birds at this time of year when food can be scare for them. Putting up a bird table filled with fat balls, nuts and seeds can be a glorious way to show gratitude for the food that has lain on our tables over winter and also to welcome in the turning season.

In celebrating Imbolc, we ask for clarity and purity to cleanse ourselves ready for spring. The first shoots will soon bring us encouragement, wisdom and inspiration and show us that we can be reborn whenever we choose. However, do not be too hasty to move ahead. We are still in the quiet of winter rest and this too can be beautiful. Allow yourself sufficient time and space for reflection so that when spring stirs in earnest, you will be ready to walk out into a more active time.

Enjoy!

Love Laurelle