I am, what in Ireland where I now live, is known as a ‘blow in’ i.e. someone not from the area, or in my case, country. The first year I was living here I was shown how to make a St Brigid’s Cross and this was my first introduction to what I now, as a Pagan, know as Imbolc.
Imbolc is a Pagan festival, just as Brigid was a Pagan Goddess but with the arrival of Christianity both Brigid and St Brigid’s Day, as Imbolc became known were adopted by the Church.
Usually celebrated around the 1st or 2nd February in the Northern Helisphere, Imbolc in the Pagan Wheel of the Year, is the first of the three Spring festivals.
For me Imbolc is a time to reconnect with the land around me, with the new shoots that are beginning to be seen peeping through the earth where they have been nurtured over the winter. It is a time for clearing, cleaning and tidying both on a personal level and in the garden. It is also a time for sowing seeds again both those that will grow into plants later in the year and also the seeds of what I wish to grow in my own life in the coming year.
This is exactly what I have been doing over the last few days in preparation for Imbolc. In the garden bushes are being tidied up with dead wood, grass and plants cleared away to leave space for new growth. In my home I have been tidying, clothes have been straightened up in drawers, boxes that have been on the floor waiting to be moved have now found their rightful home, cupboards and work tops in the kitchen have been cleared and spruced up, shelves lined and pots rearranged and as with the garden I have found new space, space that either wasn’t there or which I hadn’t noticed before. In my work I have also been preparing for the next phase as it were, things have been completed, new aspects of my work begun and I have put firmly to one side anything which no longer feels right and which is taking up space energetically.
So what of my St Brigid’s Cross? I still have the very first one I made. I was told then that it was tradition to make a new one every year and to place it in the rafters of the home so that St Brigid would protect the home from fire. The crosses are made from a particular reed which I recognise later in the year when I see it growing but which I never remember to cut, leave to dry and put to one side for Imbolc so my first St Brigid’s Cross is my only one. The fact that these crosses are said to protect from Fire though is highly appropriate as the goddess Brigid was known as the triple goddess, goddess of Healing, Poetry and Smithcraft as well as fertility. As the goddess of Smithcraft, she would have mastered the element Fire so is surely the perfect one to know how to protect a home from it.