I've recently learned about Imbolc, which is a traditional Irish holiday celebrating the seeds of spring beginning to stir with life. Not only is the story of the Goddess Brigid fascinating, Imbolc is a lot more fun and interesting than Groundhog Day! Furthermore, the traditional food is pancakes. Pancakes are considered symbols of the sun because of their round shape and golden color. The Irish tradition is to make potato pancakes (called Boxty Pancakes). Our beautiful mess of an Imbolc breakfast pictured below! We made spelt pancakes.
"To honor her sacred flame and her radiance is to also honor your own, as you plant new seeds to birth in the coming spring."
February 1st is the feast day of Brigid, who began her life as a Pagan Goddess and was later sainted by the Catholic Church when Christianity came to Ireland. On her feast day, beginning at sunset on February 1st and ending at sunset on February 2nd, her statue was washed in the sea for purification and then carried in a cart through the fields surrounded by candles. Sacred fires were lit, since she symbolized the fire of birth and healing, the fire of the forge and the fire of poetic inspiration. For our ancestors, Imbolc was a time to welcome a new light into their lives, light the candles, clean up their homes and plant some first seeds that served as a symbol of new energy.
Brigid is also known as the goddess of poetry, blacksmithing and healing. She is patroness of inspiration and midwifery. Her name originates from the Gaelic words Breo-Saighit, which means fiery or flaming arrow. Brigid is the protector and preserver of all memory and knowledge. Her role is that of teacher and magical instructor and she empowers her students with wisdom and knowledge to nurture the land, keeping it safe and productive for the good of all. To honor her sacred flame and her radiance is to also honor your own, as you plant new seeds to birth in the coming spring.
We will light some candles and read poetry tonight to celebrate Brigid! I hope you'll join us!
From the Oracle card below: "Your spiritual fire is growing within. Recognize that the power of your soul is greater than you think. You have come a long way since you began this journey. There is a powerful force within you and you have the ability to create wonderful changes in your own life and inspire those around you to do the same. Be aware of new projects, opportunities and fertile ideas that can grow into something larger than you may imagine. Call on the fiery goddess Brigid to light the way ahead."
Poem Suggestions for Imbolc:
What to Remember When Waking
by David Whyte
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea? In the trees beyond the house? In the life you can imagine for yourself? In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?
So the skies rumbled and the snows came, And everywhere down through the centuries of this gray night, Came women gathering to pray, And to sink their hands into the dark earth.
They gathered seeds and prepared them for planting, They meditated in the icy darkness, And they celebrated the lambing of the first ewe, To hasten spring.
And when through the earth they felt the stirring, They sang songs encouraging the tiny seeds to grow.
In the dark, wet soil you can smell their work still; They are digging along beside us. Listen!
The north wind carries their song across the snow, This Imbolc night.
As the Earth prepares for Spring, Wise women gather in circles to await the promise of new life, And to sing praises for the green earth.
And so do we, here now, This year, and every year.
POEM OF BRIGID
Brigid they name me And three gifts of fire I bring: First, the flame of inspiration, Frenzy of poet and anguish of artist, And passion of lover for union with the beloved; Second, the fierce fire of the smith-craft, Through whose testing all must pass; And third, the most precious of all, Which eases the second’s pain, The undying warmth of healing, The last and greatest gift Of the ever-returning sun.