As we move through the dark days of winter to the returning light of spring, the first and second days of February give us the opportunity to celebrate the Christian and ancient Celtic Festival of Imbolc – St Brigid’s Day, or the celebration of the Irish Goddess Brigid.
Brigid is one of the matriarchs and saints of the Celtic Christian Church, however she is also celebrated as the Goddess of Fire and Fertility. How appropriate, that the ancient Goddess and Saint has her celebration day on the 1st and 2nd of February. After the long days of winter, the sun gets a little brighter, the earth gets a little warmer and life begins to quicken beneath the soil. Imbolc translated from the Old Irish word ‘i mbolc’ meaning ‘in the belly’ (or another possible translation from Old Irish is ‘imb-fholc’ meaning ‘to wash or cleanse oneself’ i.e. ‘the ritual of cleaning’) calls us to celebrate the first stirrings of spring, the return of the sun and the fertility of the soil!
Imbolc also challenges us to step into the new light of Spring, to be open to more fruitful and skilful ways of being. In ancient times, during this festival of ‘Fire and Fertility,’ two bonfires would be lit and local folks would move forward between these fires along with their animals – this ritual symbolised leaving behind ‘the old self, the tired self.’ Leaving behind old habits, negative ways of being walking through the fires symbolised a cleansing of self, a cleansing of family and community and a cleansing of the livestock which provided food.
We can learn a lot from the ancient festival of Imbolc. As we in this community move into the new light of Spring what are the unskillful ways of being that we need to leave behind? What habits or behaviours are holding us back from being our ‘best selves’ creatively, emotionally, physically and spiritually?
May the new light of Spring open our hearts and our minds to new ways of being individually and collectively in this spiritual community. May Saint Brigid and the Goddess of Fire and Fertility bless us as we move forward together.