Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Imbolc /Happy Ground Hog's Day/2-2-17

 What do groundhogs, ewes, a Pagan goddess/Christian saint, and spring cleaning all have in common? They are intertwined in the history of Imbolc, the feast day of Brigid, on February 2nd.

     This holiday is one of the Celtic fire festivals and is also called Oimelc (Imbolc), an Irish term that means ewe's milk. This was the time of year when the first sign of spring was the lactation of ewes. 

It is a cross-quarter day signifying the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Being a cross-quarter day it is also a reverse barometer. Just like the logic used today on Groundhogs Day. 

If the weather is fair (sun is shining and Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow) the weather will take a turn for the worse and there will be more winter. If the weather is bad, it's good news, better weather is on the horizon.

    The Celtic goddess Brigid, was known as the Light-Bringer, so when the Christians usurped the day they tried to redirect the Pagans to worship St. Brigid, and Candlemas, and it all tied in nicely. 

    St. Brigit (Brigid, Brighid, Bride, Brigit), is known for her special cross, said to have been woven from rushes as she tended a Celtic chieftain, telling him the story of Christ. Many streams, trees, and mounds are named for her in the British Isles. The Celtic Brigid is the goddess of poetry, healing, and smith-craft. Also  the patron of other vital crafts of early Celtic society: such as dying, weaving and brewing. 
Here, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is being presented with a St. Brigid Cross on a visit to Kildare April 2011.

Myth and ancient custom, call Brigid the daughter of the Daghda, the “Great God” of the Tuatha de Danaan (faeries). She is closely connected with livestock and domesticated animals. She herself had two oxen called Fea and Feimhean.  

Imbolc is also the time for spring cleaning. Time to let go of the past and look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. So burn a candle, get out the broom, take heart, and have hope as we look forward to the rebirth of the earth and our creativity. May your spirit be renewed.

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