Friday, February 1, 2013

Imbolc. The first day of spring.

 The Goddess Brigid was one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Her feast day was the feast of Imbolc, and the cross made of rushes today is very likely the descendant of a pagan symbol whose original meaning may have been locally understood even into the early 20th century in rural Ireland. One remnant of that tradition in the meaning of the Brigid's Cross today, is that it is said to protect a house from fire. This does not fit with any part of the Christian story of St. Brigid, and so is likely a part of the older polytheistic tradition behind the feast day.

Imbolc is one of the four Gaelic festivals, the word Imbolc is derived from the Old Irish word i mbolg meaning 'in the belly' which is reference to the pregnancy of ewes, the start of the lambing season. It is the start of spring , buds are beginning to come to life , the promise of a new season,, to plant and sow. For me it is the season of hope, everything being renewed. The goddess Bridhid was a fertility goddess, it is thought that St. Brigid was based on her.
Today we gathered rushes to make our own cross of St. Brigid, to celebrate the goddess Bridhid and the start of spring .

Story of the Christian St Brigid and her cross

In Christian religion, St. Brigid and her cross are linked together by a story about her weaving this form of cross at the death bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptized. One version goes as follows:
A pagan chieftain from the neighbourhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived, the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.
The presence of the cross in Ireland is, however, likely far older.

The primroses have been out for a while now, I had hoped the the first of the daffodils would also be fully out, they are showing colour and a few more days like today which has been sunny and very spring like they will be in full bloom.
Just a few more days of sunshine. 

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