Monday, February 1, 2016

Blessed Imbolc!

Halfway between winter and spring,
This day - February 1st or 2nd - has been celebrated in many cultures for thousands of years as the holiday when the light begins to return - like Imbolc, Brigid's Day, Candlemas.
It falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
In pre-Christian times, it was the festival of Light. The Celts called it “Imbolc". Although it is attributed to the ancient Celts, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and indigenous groups are also believed to have celebrated an equivalent holiday.
Also called Brigid's Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young.
She is also the deity of poets, and is represented by fire. She is the inspiration to all bards and artisans, scholars and any who work with words. In Christian times the Goddess was transformed into Saint Brigid of Ireland, and St. Brigid's church in Kildare was built on a site sacred to Brigid.
The term 'Imbolc' derives from Old Irish and means "in the belly," or alternately "ewe's milk," pointing to the the time when the first lambs were born, associated with a celebration of fertility, reproduction and the young.
For some people Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning. Some clean their homes, take ritual baths and de-clutter their lives in other ways. This is believed to create space for new seeds to take root in the coming spring.
Nowadays Imbolc may be related to Candlemas — celebrated on February 2nd— a Christian holiday with pre-Christian roots. The custom was to bless the candles as a symbol of light, so they would protect the people, the house and the seed on the fields.
Image: Early 20th century painting of St. Brigid, artist unknown.
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