Tuesday, February 2, 2010

CANDLEMAS/IMBOLC/BRIGHID'S DAY



"GODDESS BRIGID" by Galaxis Mist

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Today a guest blogger takes over. She is a young woman of ancient times. She is a healer and herbalist and lives with her tribe in southern Britannia.

She lives alone in a thatched hut at the edge of the village. For companionship she has her owl, Cailleach, and her little pony, Rhiannon.

Aine spends her time gathering and drying herbs and flowers for medicines. Many sick people come to her to heal their maladies.

She is in training to be a Druidess, and has special powers which allow her to scry into a fire or into water to see events in the future.

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Aine of the Celts here ~

I am pleased to be here to tell ye about one of our most important days in our Wheel of the Year. Today is Imbolc, the Midwinter Festival that is one of our four major holidays. It falls exactly halfway between Yule, the winter solstice, and Ostara, the spring equinox. Here in Britannia, snowdrops are peeking through, the first sign of spring. Ravens are building their nests, and larks are singing overhead.

Sheep are also lambing, and they give this holiday its name. It marks the onset of lactation in ewes soon to give birth. Imbolc means "in the belly (of the mother)". Another name for Imbolc is Oimelc, which means "ewe's milk". With the lambs comes milk, our first fresh food of the season.

Today is sacred to the Goddess Brighid (also spelled Bride (pronounced Breed), Brigid, Brigit, Bridget, Briganta, Brigan, Brid and other variations). Her name means Bright One, High One or Bright Arrow. In Scottish Gaelic, her day is "La Fheill Brighide". In Irish Gaelic, it is "La Fheile Bride".


"WHEEL OF THE YEAR - IMBOLC", by Patricia Ariel

Brighid is the goddess of healing, which makes her special to me, a healer. However, she is a Triple Goddess, being also the goddess of poetry and the goddess of smithing (blacksmithing, goldsmithing, metalsmithing and household crafts).

Purification and fire are important aspects of this feast. The lighting of fires today represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the sun. Another name for this day is "The Feast of the Waxing Light". The presence of Brighid reminds us that the strength of women is manifest in the invincible fire that burns steadily through the heart of winter, no matter how dark and cold the world.
For us Celts, the success of the new farming season is of great importance. At this time of year, our precious food stores are getting low. We perform Imbolc rites to harness Brighid's divine energy so as to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest in six months.



"IMBOLC" by Galaxis Mist

Women and girls make Bride dolls and beds and decorate them prettily with beads, shells and flowers. They also make Brighid crosses. These go on our home altars.

Other sacred rituals include blessing our seeds and decorating and consecrating our farming tools. We clear the fields and sprinkle ashes on them. We leave offerings of bread, milk, grains and seeds for Brighid. We clean and purify our homes and light new hearth fires dedicated to the goddess. From these, we start a giant outdoor bonfire. We set torches alight and circle the fields in procession. Afterward we hold a great feast.

Bridghid is also associated with sacred wells. On this day, Calleach, the ancient hag, bathes in her sacred well and becomes Bride the maiden. Brighid has a holy well in Kildare, Ireland. The Sacred Flame at the well is kept by 19 virgin priestesses called Daughters of the Flame. No man is allowed near the well, and the preistesses do not consort with men.
 

 "BRIGID: SAINT AND GODDESS", Artist Unknown

Catholic nuns now tend Brighid's sacred flame. As I peer into the future, I see that Brighid is one of the few Celtic goddesses who survived after the days of us pagans. Her sway over Ireland was so strong that the Church "borrowed" her and turned her into a saint. The Christians say that St. Brigit (or Brigid) was the daughter of a Druid who was converted and baptized by St. Patrick. 

This day is also celebrated by the Christian church as Candlemas, the day to bless all the candles that will be used in the following liturgical year. It is also called the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.

Imbolic/Brighid's Day is a time of rebirth and inner transformation, of inspiration and creativity. I hope you experience all these today.


"IMBOLC", Artist Unknown

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NOTE: I wrote this post last year. I re-printed it this year but used different images of Imbolc and/or Brigid. Since I used so many images last year, I was afraid I wouldn't find enough for this year, but I did!

If you would like to see a bunch more images, please visit these two links from 2009:
http://celticanamcara.blogspot.com/2009/02/artist-unknown-aine-of-celts-here-on.html.
http://celticanamcara.blogspot.com/2009/02/images-of-imbolic.html.

Did you spot all the symbols for Brighid in today's and last year's images? These include snowdrops, fire/light/sun, white candles (and candle crowns), sacred wells, the wolf (February is the wolf moon in Britain), the swan, the snake, pregnant women to symbolize fertility, sheep and lambs, brooms or spinning wheels in honor of the keeper of the hearth, a white cow with red ears, arrows, spears, the new moon and Brighid's cross.



"CANDLEMAS" by Yvette Vetjens

Whether you celebrate it as Candlemas, St. Brighid's Day or Imbolc, enjoy this day and take cheer that we are halfway on the wheel between the shortest day of the year and the spring equinox.

12 comments:

Piecefulafternoon said...

Wonderful - just wonderful!

Colleen said...

I always enjoy your posts - learning and seeing the images - new or old - I LOVE it!

Rowan said...

Lovely post Julie, I've really enjoyed reading it and seeing the images, I particularly like the one with the wolf and the hawk but when I googled Galaxis Mist all I got was your blog - do you know anything about the artist?

gemma said...

Gasp! Thank you so much for this. All day long at school today people talked about Groundhog day! I kept thinking and it's Candlemas....
I needed this lovely reprieve.
Hail Brighid
Hail Aine

Leanne said...

wonderful post Julie!! :-)

a blessed imbolc to you!!

Leanne x

AutumnLeaves said...

Another wonderful entry full of information and mystique. Thank you, Julie.

Judith A . Bates said...

Yes indeed...A blessed imbolc to you as well! What a lovely and informative post Julie. The gorgeous images on your blog are such a beautiful and inspiring way to start my day...Thank you.

Janet said...

As always, a beautiful post both with words and images.

Annie said...

Hi Julie. I've been a quiet lurker lately. I've been enjoying your entries and thought it was high time I stopped in a SAID so. Sorry for the quiet.

Leanne said...

Julie- take a peek at my new post today :-)

Leanne x

Shopgirl said...

It was so good to find you in my mail and on my blog...I thought you had forgotten me. I love this post, as always the images are beautiful and once again I have learned something new and special.
I will take the snow off my blog very soon. I leave it on because we continue to have snow.
But I don't want anything to keep us from enjoying each-others blogs.
We saw the sun for a few minutes today...I am so ready for spring!
Love Ya, Mary

Mary said...

You share such interesting stories and beautiful images Julie - this post was special and taught me so much.