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THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR


Here I feature posts on how and when we can mark and celebrate The Wheel Of The Year

Read how the most primal and ancient of our traditions connect to our 21st Century lives



IMBOLC

February 1st

The Earth Awakens



Imbolc is the point on the Wheel of the Year that's also known as The Feast of Brighid, The Feast of Lights and 'Candlemass' as we mark the beginnings of the return of Spring. Even as Winter continues it's march across the land, we watch with hope as the first snowdrops emerge from the cold ground and life pulses deep in the sleeping earth once more.


This is a time where we can cleanse, purify and prepare for the warm Spring days ahead.

The date of Imbolc is thought to have been deeply significant since the Neolithic period. 


Pictured here is The Mound Of The Hostages, a tomb on The Hill Of Tara, County Meath, Ireland.


The tomb passage at the Mound of the Hostages is short and aligned to let light flood into the chamber on February 1st at Imbolc






At Imbolc, we honour the Goddess Brigid in her 'Maiden' aspect. The waxing crescent moon and white candles are the symbols that represent the strength and purity of the virgin goddess who brings new life to the earth.  


Brigid or Bride was later Christianised and the worship of her was woven into the Christian church as 'St Bridget'. 


Obvously, her origin is far more ancent than that and she is a Goddess of Fire, the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its' people and is closely connected to birth, babies and midwives/wise women. Her name- Brighid/Bridie - is also said to be the the origin of the word 'Bride'. Brighid's 'virgin/maiden' aspect,  Her association with new fertility flowering and of the colour white is said to be where the custom of the 'Bride' wearing white and carrying flowers at her wedding originates




Brighid is also the goddess of sacred wells and springs. At Imbolc celebrants would - and still do- visit Holy Wells. The Holy Well is 'dressed' with flowers and tokens. Celebrants leave offerings to honour the Goddess Brigid.


It's traditional to chant, sing or pray for good health whilst walking deosil (clockwise/sunwise) around the Well


Water from the Holy Well can be used to bless and cleanse people, personal objects and the home and hearth. In older times it would be use to bless the fields and livestock

 

Pictured here is the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England. 



​Brighid's Symbols


Some of the symbols connected to to Brighid are

snowdrops, to reflect the beginnings of Spring in the midst of Winter. Swans are also connected to her as they mate for life and therefore symbolise loyalty and faithfulness.


As Imbolc is a Festival of Fire so all kinds of flame are associated with the Goddess Brigid. The light of inspiration and creativity, the protective warmth of the hearth and the fire wheel or 'Brighid's Cross', which acknowledges her status as a Sun Goddess.



Even though Imbolc may seem to be in the depth of winter when the weather is at its most bitter, there are so many signs around us that the beginning of life is stirring once more in the cold earth.


The Goddess is never dead – only sleeping. 

Imbolc marks her re- awakening and this is what we can celebrate.....

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