Salutations, Patch Readers!
February already! We can see that the sun now sets about a half hour later that it did on the Winter Solstice. The Light had returned! The Pagan Feast of Imbolc comes Saturday, February 2nd. On this day many practitioners of the “Old Religion” and New Agers will gather and perform purifications rituals.
This is just one of the attributes of Imbolc.
February 2nd is the Feast day of St Brigid, or Candlemas of the Old Catholic Church. Brigit of Kildare was a nun of extraordinary dedication and blessings. One of the many miracle legends attached to Brigit was when she had asked the King for land to build a convent. When he refused, she offered that her cloak be the measure of the land to be gifted. The king was amused and agreed, thinking that not much land can be covered by a woman’s cloak. Brigit had four friends hold the cloak at the corners and walk in four directions, north, south, east and west. The cloak grew to cover several acres of land and the King seeing that she was indeed blessed by God, acquiesced, and granted the land. This may be the location of her sanctuary in Kildare where the nuns are said to keep a fire lit in her honor.
However, legends and mythology often arrive hand in hand. Brighid (Celtic spelling) is also known as the pre-Christian Goddess and daughter of the Dagda. For more detail of this Goddess, copy and paste the link below:
Her feast day is February 2, known as “Imbolc”, which means (loosely translated) with milk. In agricultural societies this is when the livestock were preparing to give birth and lactating. Brede or Brighid, and St. Brigid are both revered in Ireland and Scotland. They are often considered one and the same. Both are patronesses of Wisdom, Fire, Poetry, Blacksmithing, Midwives, Wells, and Dairy Farmers, among others. She is associated with Brigantia, Roman Minerva, and Greek Athena.
In our house, my husband will start his vegetable garden seedlings in organic fertilizer pots. Packets of seeds and bags of potting soil will inhabit our kitchen, until he decides which veggies will be planted first. Imbolc is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Preparation for the growing season begins.
Or you can just call it Groundhog Day.
Hundreds will gather in Pennsylvania to greet Punxsutawney Phil while he makes his predictions for the next six weeks of weather. Since there’s six more weeks of winter, no matter how you cut it, the Groundhog’s shadow determines weather conditions. Hopefully, ideal for planting come the Vernal Equinox.
Many of the calendar holidays overlap the cultures of the globe. The pagans of Europe (where our ancestors proliferated) would celebrate Brigid, if Celtic, Lupercus if Italian or Strega, Canderaria if Mexican and Disting if Teutonic or Germanic. The traditions assimilated to the Christian culture with Carnevale, Mardi Gras, culminating on Ash Wednesday. Lent begins and again, this is a purification rite in preparation for the new season of growth, a reminder of life everlasting.
And so, to you, Patch Readers, I wish you all a very joyous Imbolc, Happy Groundhog Day, and may the blessings of Brede be bestowed upon you and may your gardens be fruitful! So mote it be.