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The Origins of Imbolc

Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day- February 1, 2024

By Violet Wisdom



The halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox is upon us. Originating in the Celtic/Gaelic regions, this festival and its namesake is ancient, intriguing and mystical. Which all happen to be exactly how one would best describe this time of year. 


Imbolc is said to have first began in the Neolithic period, that human era of transition from living a full hunter/gatherer lifestyle into the beginnings of the modern era of farming and village life. On or around the first of February is historically lambing season (when lambs are born) with some believing the world Imbolc has its roots in pregnancy and birth. The story of St. Brigid however is much more complicated. 


St. Brigid of Kildare is the patron saint of Ireland. She is said to have lived from 451 to 525 AD and also saint to poetry, livestock and blacksmiths. Legend has it that her mother was part of an ancient group of Irish people who had become enslaved. Before Brigid was born, her mother was sold to a druid who eventually freed them both. She then devoted her life to feeding and healing the poor. She was, as it turns out, not the only celebrated Brigid in Gaelic history. There was another Brigid before her who was known as a goddess and displayed the same gifts and traits. Both Imbolc and St. Brigid’s Day are celebrated on the same day with the only difference being that one is in honor of ancient pagan beliefs and the other more modern christian beliefs. Both celebrate their own version of Brigid, the woman, saint, goddess that represents the joy of spring arriving.


To this day people celebrate Imbolc for religious, spiritual and cultural reasons. The following are common Imbolc activities you can try:


  • Make a Brigid cross from grasses or straw

  • Spring cleaning~ Donate anything that no longer serves you

  • Purchase new house plants

  • Go for a walk and look for early signs of spring


Where it won’t officially be spring for another 48 days, it is beginning below the thawing ground. If you pay attention, you can feel the extra energy within your own body and mind calling you to be prepared for the business spring will require of you. Even if you, yourself don’t depend on the land to provide your needs, you are a part of the earth and therefore feel its changing energies. 


If you do celebrate Imbolc, Saint Brigid’s Day or Candlemas, please share your traditions in the comment section below or on our Facebook page. 


 



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