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In the Celtic calendar Imbolc marks the begining of the lambing season, the stirring of new life as well as the beginning of Spring.
It is Là Fhèill Brìghde - the quickening of life and the stirring of new beginnings. The word Imbolg means 'in the belly' and herein lies a tantalising clue to the energy that is restlessly stirring. The earth is gestating, in early pregnancy. New life is just beginning to show, bringing with it a feeling of expectation and excitement.
Imbolc brings renewal, new life, fresh beginnings and an energy that reflects our insatiable appetite for growth and rebirth. Effortlessly, new hope begins to stir and with it an energy that gives us permission to grow, move forward, acknowledge and begin to realise our hidden potential. Most of all, it is calling us to celebrate the joy and promise that new life brings.
The Goddess most associated with Imbolc is Brighid, who is the goddess of light, fire, poetry, smithcraft, children and babies. She brings fertility to the land and to her people. Brighid is also the protector of the hearth and home. In Ireland a house was never considered home until Brighid was honoured by the placing of a Brighid's cross on the hearth or hung above the door. In Scotland, on the eve of Imbolc, the woman of the house would dress up a sheath of oats in woman's clothing and lay it in a basket called 'Brighids bed', side by side with a phalic club. They would then call out three times "Brid is come, Brid is welcome!" and leave candles burning by 'the bed' all night. If the impression of the club was found in the ashes of the hearth in the morning , the year would be fruitful and prosperous.
A few symbols associated with Brighid........
A custom that, although traditionally Irish, that has become synonamous with Imbolc is the weaving of a Bridghid's cross. Bighid's cross is a representation of the fire wheel and its woven form is hung above the doorway to place the house under Brighids protection. Brighid is an aspect of the triple Goddess but at spring she comes to us in her form of Maiden.
The plant and flower most associated with Imbolg. This tiny, delicate but tenacious flower is the herald of Spring. They effortlessly demonstrate that growth requires no effort and can still occur even although you have been through the darkest of times. They prevail through rain, wind, frost, snow are trodden on, forgoten, and yet they proudly emerge every year to remind us that life continues and that beauty combined with strength can create the most beautiful blossom despite of the vagaries of living.
Some birds are sacred to Brighid. Since Brighid is known as “The White Swan” the Swan is one of them!
The swan is one of the most beautiful of birds. It is considered a royal bird and is noted for its longevity. It is fierce when threatened. Swans are associated with shape shifting and there are many stories of humans turning into swans. Swans also link the waters and the heavens.
Other birds that are sacred to Brighid include the Lark, the Linnet and the Oyster Catcher known in Ireland as “Giolla Bride”, Bride's Page.
Things to do......
A little something to warm up the cold days.
1 pound of butter 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of dried crumbled 1 tablespoon of Chives
1 tablespoon of dried crumbled
Let the butter stand in a large bowl at room temperature until soft. Thoroughly mix the herbs and butter together. Pack into a container. Refridgerate overnight to allow the flavours of the herbs to infuse the butter.
White and silver for purity, green for the fresh burst of life
Ideas for your altar
Dress your altar with the colours of Imbolc. Pristine white to signify both purity as well as representative of the snow that often falls at this tme of year. Fresh Green helps us to connect with the energy of newness and growth. Decorate with Snowdrops and connect with the quiet resilience of this little plant, make your own Brighids cross and as you weave ask the Goddess Brighid to protect you and give you the strength to positivley embrace change throughout the coming year.
Burn candles to connect with Brighids flame and fire, realise what inspires you and puts fire in your belly. Burn oils and Incense as an offering to the Goddess Brighid. Honour the Goddess, celebrate the turning of the wheel of the year and above all have fun!
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