Celebrating Irish Spring–the Feast of Imbolc

If you’re not from Ireland or familiar with the Irish celebratory feast of Imbolc, the festival of the pagan goddess Brigid, then this post may have little meaning to you.  On the other hand, if you’re a believer in trusting life and it’s myriad of forces that tick away behind the scenes to ensure what should be will be, then read on.

Since many of these forces– the philosophy of law of attraction, the phenomenon of serendipity, and the simple act of keeping the faith– are familiar worldwide, I won’t elaborate further on them, but you may be wondering…

What is the feast of Imbolc?

In a nutshell, it’s a celebration of the change of seasons from the short, dark winter days to the longer and brighter days of spring.  It’s also called St. Brigid’s Day and is most usually held on February 1st, the first day of spring here in Ireland which falls about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  One of the traditional ways of celebrating is by making a St. Brigid’s cross which is ‘placed on doorways to ward off evil, fire, and hunger from homes’.

Saint_Brigid's_cross

Click for info on St. Brigid

Earlier this week, after admiring a photo of rushes that will soon be cut and used by an Irish writing friend to make her own St. Brigid’s cross, I wondered how my intentions to learn had never come to light.  The children make them in school every year and I often thought I’d like to learn too.

Then as quickly as the notion entered my mind, it left me, again.  Another spring celebration where I had no intentions to take any action.  That is, until I received this beautiful and surprising invitation…

“Greetings,

Many blessings to you all and I hope this mail finds you well and feeling the rising energy of Spring awakening.

I will be doing a gentle spring awakening yoga class and meditation in the lodge this Sunday, January 31st from 4.30pm till 6.15 pm to mark the turning of the season and Imbolc, when new life begins to grow.

All are welcome to stay after the session where we will sit with the fire and follow the tradition of making Brigid’s crosses on St. Brigid’s Eve.

Brigid’s name means exalted one. She tends the triple fires of smithcraft (physical fire), healing (the fire within) and poetry (the fire of the spirit) and is one of the three patron saints of Ireland. The sacred flame that was maintained in her convent until the 12th century was symbolically relit in 1993 by the St. Brigidine Sisters in Kildare. I will also be lighting candles here on Brigid’s Eve connecting with her sacred flame…”

The time has come for me to learn.  It’s lovely when things work out this way, as desired and as they are meant to be, a bonus being when little to no effort is expended.

I think it’s going to be a great night engaging with friends, learning a new-to-me traditional craft, with a keepsake to remind of the comforting adage–

‘What’s for you won’t pass you by.’

While learning to make St. Brigid’s crosses is not a life altering experience, we can often focus on things we desire and feel disappointment when they don’t come to us.  When life fails to deliver on something you are hoping for or expected to receive, it’s sometimes best to sit back and meditate on this advice and then move forward mindfully trusting that things will fall into place, a new plan will come to you, a course of action will present itself.

Enjoy the last days and weeks of winter my friends and remember, spring is a time for new beginnings and anything is possible!

Melissa Xx

p.s. My Irish writing friend whose rush photo I admired has since posted a tutorial on how to make your own St. Brigid’s cross and here it is. And here is a link to a tutorial of my own.

50 Comments

    • The night was great and piqued my curiosity to learn more. Interesting that there were two Brigid’s, Bridie and St. Brigid. Our hostess had a good bit of knowledge. I have to research more to fill in the blanks–much of this she was imparting to us during the meditation and I may have drifted away from her words and missed a bit 😛

      I just had a look around your blog…from handwritten notes to fried rice? Two things I am passionate about!! Seriously have strong feelings about them both and they are a part of my family and I loved that they were back to back in your posts. I took it as a sign that I should be reading your writing! Cheers, Melissa

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brigid (either the saint or pagan) is a fairly expansive topic, and I think I could spend months researching it!!
        That means a lot to me! 🙂 Your blog is one of my favourites- I was only able to spend a day on Inis Mor while I was living in Ireland, but what an absolutely breathtaking island! You have such an amazing and unique lifestyle, and I love following along 🙂 Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome…I may be better equipped for a post next year as I learned so much last eve and have a hunger to find out even more. Many layers to the ritual, and two sides really, pagan and christian.

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    • Thank you so much for that introduction Sandra. I just spent a bit of time on her website and oh, there is so much there of interest. There is one definite book I want and must look over the others. Her postcards are perfect too, for gifts to friends in three corners of the world who I correspond with hand written. Wouldn’t she be fascinating to sit down over tea with? No coincidence here, thank you for the connection. Xx

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    • Thanks, it was a great eve, the day started out sunny and breezy, now it’s just nasty…wild winds and lashing rain, sideways rain that is. I believe I’m hearing a bit of hail at the minute. Still, a joyous day! Flask of tea by my side, pajamas still on, and children should be running in the door any minute from school. Will all gather around the fire to keep warm. No central heating in our house, just like the ‘good ole days’!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sent this post on to Sally….we have a farmer friend there in Ireland who has a ‘not so nice way’ of describing those rushes, which I think are typically used to form a St. Bridget’s cross. I love the idea of forming a cross to be put out by the front door, Sally has one at her home in Kerry……rebirth and regrowth, we’re nearing that here as well. I’ll think of the significance of St. Bridget’s day here in Maine today ( and try not to think of our friend cussing at the rushes). Best to you and all, denise

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    • I suppose everyone mightn’t find them desirable to have growing where otherwise something more useful might be planted. It is such a rewarding feeling to have made my own. The children will be home from school soon and I will definitely have a new appreciation for theirs. Happy St. Brigid’s Day to you in Maine. Hope it is feeling a bit more springlike there then it is here…hail storm just passed!

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      • I can see great uses for those rushes, aside from making the protective St. Bridget’s crosses, lots of weaving projects. I did however find it comical to hear this old farmer ( Irish) blurt out a not so nice selection of words describing them, I suppose they get frustrated trying to eradicate them from grazing land. Still may be over in mid February….do you need any seeds from Fedco or Johnny’s, happy to bring them along! Yes, a little too spring like for the beginning of February…weird, really. We worry about the early spring woodland plants emerging much too early and getting zapped from a cold snap. Who knows! Best to you, friend!

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        • The weather has been strange and definitely shifting. It would be unusual for a Maine winter to end in February alright. Is there any possibility of fleecing your plants? Probably too many. Hope they survive the next couple months.

          Well there’s a tempting offer. Some native tomatoes might be nice or perhaps interesting lettuce. Going to try and keep it simple this year. Time is tight with the new job. Feel the need to simplify and enjoy more. It has been so darn windy we haven’t had a moment to put up our tunnel and though I feel relief that it is not being battered these stormy days, I really miss hanging out in there. Mid February is not far off. Hope to see you soon!

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  2. Pingback: Spring Willow Project | The Aran Artisan

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