Today is Imbolc, and of course it’s snowing!

Imbolc  is one of four ancient Celtic/ Gaelic festivals, the others being Beltaine, celebrated on May 1st; Lughnasadh, on Aug 1st; and Samhain, held on Nov 1st.

Imbolc (pronounced I-molk) falls half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and is traditionally held on the first day of February in celebration of the arrival of Spring.

It is associated with the onset of the lambing season, and the lactation of ewes; in fact, in Old Irish, Imbolc actually comes from words meaning ‘in the belly’, which refers to the pregnancy of ewes.

It is thought to have been an important date as far back as Neolithic times. Studies of the ancient stone monuments of Ireland have shown some of them to be aligned with the rising sun on the morning of Imbolc, the inner chamber of the Mound of Hostages on the Hill of Tara being a perfect example.

The festival is also associated with the Goddess Brigid. Brigid (pronounced Breesht) was a princess of the Tuatha de Danann, an ancient, supernatural race which ruled Ireland in the distant days of Irish Mythology.

Her name means ‘the exalted one’, and she was the daughter of the Dagda, another well respected ancient Irish deity. Brigid went on to marry Bres who became HIgh King, and together they had a son named Ruadan.

Brigid was said to be beautiful, kind and wise, and as such beloved by the people. She was patroness of poetry, the smith, healing, cattle and livestock, fire, and of course Spring.

She was later adopted by the Christians and absorbed into their doctrines when the local people refused to give her up even though they accepted the new religion.

As Saint Brigid of Kildare, she was honoured by nineteen nuns lighting and maintaining a perpetual, sacred flame, which continued until the suppression of the monasteries in the sixteenth century. Although it is believed the origins of this custom lie much further back in forgotten ancient pagan ritual.

Nowadays, children in schools around Ireland are taught to make Brigid’s Cross out of rushes, subsequently to be hung on the door frames of their family homes until the following Imbolc. This invites St Brigid into the home to bless the family and keep them safe for another year.

For me, Imbolc is a time of hope and optimism, and looking ahead to the future. It’s nice to think that winter is nearly over, and warmer sunnier days are just around the corner. The days are already getting noticeably longer and brighter. If only it wasn’t snowing…

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11 Comments on “Today is Imbolc, and of course it’s snowing!

  1. Oooh, I’d love to try to make Brigid’s Cross! I hope I can find the DIY manual!


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  6. Imbolc is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day honored in my druid tradition, but also has been a time for me personally when I remake commitments I have made, especially those I’ve made with myself. Once, I saw Brighid’s light. That was a very powerful experience. We’re way past imbolc now, even past the spring equinox, but rather belatedly I hope you had a wonderful imbolc and the spring has been good to you.


    • Thank you and same to you. I live very close to a prehistoric complex known as Loughcrew, have you heard of it? Its a wonderful windswept place and the carvings inside the mound are as sharp and clear as the day they were cut. Anyway you can put your name down to experience the sun ceremony at the spring equinox. But theres a long wait. Wouldnt that be wonderful?


      • Yes I’d love to be there! It’s quite possible I’ll be able to go to Ireland next year around the equinox. It will depend on many things, but I hope I can make the dream happen.


        • I believe its a very long waiting list though…I’ll have to look into it. My husband and I always say we are going to put our names down every year, and then forget about it till it comes around again!


  7. Happy Feast day of St. Brigid. I bought a St. Brigid cross from Ireland when I visited the country.


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