We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

01 February 2008

Imbolc ~ Brigid's Day

"Thig an nathair as an tollLa donn Bride,Ged robh tri traighean dh’ an t-sneachdAir leachd an lair.

"The serpent will come from the hole on the brown Day of Bride, though there should be three feet of snow on the flat surface of the ground." - Scottish Gaelic proverb

February 2nd has many different meanings, including Imbolc in the Gaelic-pagan calendar celebrating the first signs of spring. The early Irish Christians named it St. Brigid's Day, and in my mind this is how I see it. I have long felt an affinity with Brigid, the celtic goddess and the Catholic saint as she is also recognised. Imbolc has also been associated historically with weather predications, for the coming year. Groundhog day in America derives from the tradition of watching for badgers or snakes, coming up from their winter dens. Fire is also an important part of this day, perhaps burning away the inertia that I mentioned earlier in the week.

Like the Tibetan new year which occurs next week, fire ceremonies are used to purge the old, and clear the air for the new. Brigid is the goddess of fire, and is associated with smithcraft, poetry and healing. The picture is of the remains of the Brigid's pagan fire temple in Kildare, Ireland, where I visited many years ago.

What can you do to mark the day? Lighting candles around the house will welcome in Brigid and can be used to purify and prepare for the new beginning of spring. It is a festival of the hearth and home, and if you have a fireplace you can use that as well.

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