This week, we celebrate Imbolc (IM – OLK) and the Celtic goddess Brighid, goddess of fertility, creativity, the forge (blacksmiths and smithing), light, and livestock.
But exactly WHEN do we celebrate, you may ask!!
Some celebrate on the fixed date of February 1st whilst others will celebrate on the astronomical Cross-Quarter date of a February 3rd @ 15:27 Pacific Time (the precise midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox). I celebrate both!
Imbolc is the first of the Celtic spring festivals (Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltaine) and one of the four fire festivals in the Celtic Wheel of the Year. In the Christian calendar, this day is observed as Candlemas. And on February 2nd, many celebrate Groundhog Day…. clearly an anticipation of Spring!
Imbolc — the day we celebrate the goddess Brighid — marks the first physical signs of Spring: the birth of the lambs, the flowing of the ewe’s milk (the literal translation for Imbolc!), the rising of the sap in the trees, and the budding of trees and 🌾plants.
It was also a time of empowerment for our ancestors, as they cleansed their homes of Winter dust and soot, and started to prepare for Spring by clearing the land and preparing to plough and sow.
How perfect that this is the time to honour Brighid with blessings and rituals to purify us for the sacred growth and seed through a three-fold Fire ritual, exemplified in this blessing:
Fire in the Forge that shapes and tempers
Fire in the Hearth that nourishes and heals
Fire in the Head that incites and inspires
Legends of Brighid’s Mantle
The first legend described the goddess Brighid as hanging her mantle on a beam of sunlight. Magickal!
A second legend said that Brighid walked the land on Imbolc Eve, healing both people and animals Legend had it that the dew absorbed her healing powers. The next morning, women would cut up the Bhrat Brídhe (Gaelic for Brighid’s Mantle) into strips for sharing within the family.
In a third legend, St Brigid asked the King for a plot of land for her Abbey in Kildare, but the King refused. Brigid then asked for a plot of land no bigger than her mantle. Of course, the King agreed. Such a bargain! So she walked to the Holy Oak on the land she wanted, accompanied by four Maidens. Each took a corner of Brigid’s cloak and walked in all four directions. Miraculously, the cloak grew and grew until it stretched out to the exact plot size that Brigid desired. The King recognised the miracle and converted to Christianity. Brigid built her church. A cathedral was later built on the site but, apparently, the original foundations of Brigid’s church can still be seen.
Bhrat Bridhe Ritual
Ideally done on Imbolc Eve which – for me – is tonight. At sunset, place a piece of cloth on a tree, bush or windowsill. You can use any cloth (natural fibres if at all possible), or even a piece of ribbon, which is easy to tuck into a purse, yoga bag, or even a bra strap!
I use a red cloth — and often a piece of ribbon actually — as that tradition resonates with me, but some use white or blue. Even a simple handkerchief will do the trick.
Bring your Bhrat inside the next morning, infused with Brighid’s healing dew. Use your Bhrat Bridhe for healing for your Self or loved ones. You can also use your Bhrat for extra energy when you need to stand strong. Brighid will be there for you.