Imbolc From Ancient Times To The Present


​At the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, the inner chamber is aligned with the rising sun on the dates of Imbolc and Samhain.

Photo by Paul Stevenson - From the Marsden Imbolc festival.   Imbolc is a pagan festival symbolising the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Here, a representation of Jack frost is driven into exile by the green man. Lots of fire representing the return of the sun. CC BY 2.0
Photo by Paul Stevenson – From the Marsden Imbolc festival.   Imbolc is a pagan festival symbolising the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Here, a representation of Jack frost is driven into exile by the green man. Lots of fire representing the return of the sun. CC BY 2.0

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the most early Irish writings and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brighid and it is still observed today as such by Wiccans and Celtic based Pagans throughout the world today in various forms. For those following the Celtic method of time keeping in which nightfall marks the beginning of the next day,  this holiday is usually celebrated beginning at sundown on February 1 and continuing through the day of February 2.


Brighid’s crosses are made in honor of her and dolls, called Brídeógs, are sometimes paraded from house-to-house. Brigid is believed to visit the homes of those who worship her at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people might make a bed for her and leave something to eat and drink. Also, some folks leave items of clothing or household items outside for her to bless. Brigid may also be invoked to protect homes, pets and, for those living in the country, livestock. In Ireland and other places, special feasts are held, sacred wells are visited and it is also a good time for divination.

If you would like to make your own Brigid’s Cross they are fairly simple and easy to make with the right materials. If you have access to gather fresh green reeds or straw these work best. We’ve even made them with the kids out of multi-colored pipe cleaners as craft projects. The more flexible the material you’re using the better because you have to bend each piece in half so dry reeds will break on you. There are several good tutorials online you may use to learn how, including this one:


Blessings Of Brigit Of The Twining Hair

My patron goddess Brigit is the exalted one and a goddess of pre-Christian Ireland. Her stories are told in Irish folklore acknowledging her as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and a daughter of the Dagda as well as a wife of Bres, with whom she had a son named Ruadán.

She is associated with the coming of spring season, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft.  According to Cormac’s Glossary which was written in the 10th century by Christian monks she is also “the goddess whom poets adored” and that she has two other aspects as Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith. The Christianized version of her, Saint Brigid shares many of the goddess’s attributes and her feast day was originally a pagan festival (Imbolc) marking the beginning of spring.

Goddess Brighid, Brigit, Brigidm Brig or Bride.
Goddess Brighid

The above is a statue I use on my own altar as a representation of my goddess while making offerings and honoring her.

 

Brigit, daughter of the Daghda, daughter of Dugall the Brown, Son of Aodh, Son of Art, Son of Conn, son of Criara son of Carbre son of Cas, son of Cormac son of Cartach son of Conn.

Brigit of the mantles
Brigit of the peat-heap
Brigit of the twining hair
Brigit of the augury.

Brighid of the white feet
Brighid of the smithcraft
Brighid of the white palms
Brighid of the poetry.

Brigid the Goddess
Brigid of the Spirit
Brigid of the fairy-mound
Brigid of Essence.

Brig of the moon
Brig of the healing
Brig of the common fire
Brig of the Fairy Woman.

No sun shall burn me
No fire shall burn me
No beam shall burn me
No mon shal burn me.

No river shall drown me
No brine shall drown me
No flood shall drown me
No water shall drown me.

– The Moors

Considering The Source – Isaac Bonewits

Isaac Bonewits
Isaac Bonewits

Isaac Bonewits would have been 64 years old yesterday. He was a hero of mine from early on in my years of first learning that I was Pagan. One of the first things I read by him was his Advanced Bonewitz Cult Danger Evaluation Frame or ABCDEF for short. He also recorded several songs I enjoyed. Among my favorites were his version of Circles, The Wizard and We Won’t Shave Any Longer. Some of his songs were silly, fun songs, others were serious. You can find some of his silly ones here at Other Silly Songs by Isaac. I had the good fortune to meet him at an Imbolc gathering before he passed away while I was still a Grove Organizer for Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF). He was as friendly and personable in person as he generally was in his writings and other endeavors. Mr. Bonewits wrote a hymn to Brighid on the spot just before our Imbolc ritual. His wife, Phaedra Bonewits posted a status update yesterday mentioning that 64 was a significant age to turn for people of their generation, eluding to the Beatles tune “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64.” She said that she saw a couple at the farmer’s market yesterday about their age and was hit by her sense of loss of not having Isaac there to share life with anymore. She went back to her car and cried in sorrow. I can understand how she feels. It is painful when those we love dearly are no longer there to share life’s moments with us. We know, of course, that they will be born anew but until our paths cross again we must carry on in our current lifetime. I too feel a sense of loss that Isaac is no longer walking among us in the physical plane but am thankful for all of the great works he left behind for us. He was a great elder, leader and an inspiration to many. Hail Isaac Bonewits!

As I mentioned the other day I am curtailing my Facebook time lately. I still check in because, my friends and family still send me messages through it, post things on my timeline, tag me on it and other stuff. But I don’t spend my downtime like I was sharing memes and such. I did get contacted yesterday by a fellow who moved to Texas from Florida a couple of years ago but is living in a very small town with no Pagan population to speak of. He wanted to find other Pagans to get together with and stop feeling so isolated. So, I had him friend me on Facebook and then arranged to suggest him as a friend to some of my Pagan friends down in the Houston and Austin area closer to where he is at. I know that they can put him in touch with others and hopefully he will soon be able to find a group in the community that fits him. Facebook is good for stuff like that. But, I have found some rewarding things to do with my time which I was spending sharing memes and whatnot on the mighty book of face. A lot of those memes have websites attached to them so I decided to take the time I usually don’t bother to take and go find these websites. Some of them are great resources of knowledge, wit and inspiration. Some are other blogs which I am now subscribed to. I have also been going around reading other people’s blogs, commenting and taking part in discussions. There is so much more to be found when you dig deeper into things. Facebook is like a stream in which the water rushes by quickly and is gone. Visiting these websites and blogs is like taking a dip in a nice pond or even the ocean in some cases. There is so much more to be found if we take the time to explore it.

Of course I have still been doing my social thing on Google+ as well, popping in to Pinterest, Twitter and StumbleUpon here and there. Not to mention working on promoting some big event that we are having this coming Saturday. What was that again? Oh yeah… PAGAN PRIDE DAY! Thou must get thine asses down there with some food for the canned food drive, roll up thy sleeve and give blood for the Pagans For Life blood drive so you can get one of those blue bandage armbands. Everyone knows, all the sexy people are wearing blue bandage armbands because they check your blood when you give it to insure you’re clean and disease free. Just sayin’! 😉 After that, go have a good time! We will have performers, vendors, workshops, rituals and all kinds of awesomeness going on. It’s just a few days away now!

Oh! Also, be sure and say hi to Pagan Pope Tommy Elf who is NOT A PRIEST dagnabbit! (inside joke) But is an all around great guy who does a local podcast for Pagan minded folks. He will be out there with a recorder to take down anything people might want to say and share with his listeners.

Bíodh  amhlaidh,

Troy