Celtic Remembrances for St Brigid’s Feast Day: Imbolc

St Brigid’s feast day was Feb­ru­ary 1st. Today I will be play­ing music in hon­or of her and her rich her­itage.

Brigid’s feast day was placed by the ear­ly church on the cal­en­dar at the pagan fes­ti­val of Imbolc, the ancient cel­e­bra­tion of the com­ing of Spring. Brigid holds the dis­tinct hon­or of being both a Pagan God­dess and a rec­og­nized Chris­t­ian Saint. Her sto­ry is even more amaz­ing in that no one actu­al­ly knows if she even exist­ed in the “real” world. Belief in her was so wide­spread that ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty had no choice but to hon­or her, as the Pagans sim­ply refused to stop wor­ship­ping her.

The fes­ti­val that hon­ors Brigid is called Imbolc, which is cel­e­brat­ed on Feb­ru­ary 1st. This is a solar fes­ti­val which hon­ors the sun, and of course light. It is also a fes­ti­val of purifi­ca­tion by fire. The word Imbolc trans­lates to “in milk.” When our ancient ances­tors peeked out of their caves and saw preg­nant ani­mals wan­der­ing by, they knew that Spring was just around the cor­ner.

Wor­ship of Brigid even­tu­al­ly reached Scot­land and the British Isles, so she is a true Celtic God­dess indeed. How­ev­er, Brigid was even­tu­al­ly made a Saint by the Chris­t­ian church. This aspect of Brigid found­ed a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty at Kil­dare in Ire­land. A fire in her hon­or was kept burn­ing day and night until fair­ly recent times. Nine­teen maid­ens were in atten­dance at all times to make sure the fire nev­er went out. This rev­er­ence for fire was most like­ly resid­ual from her God­dess aspect. As a Saint Brigid was seen as the mid­wife for the Vir­gin Mary, and she is also the patroness Saint of Ire­land.

The eve of St Brigid’s day is still cel­e­brat­ed by some in Ire­land and in some parts of Britain. Images of her are made out of straw and used as pro­tec­tors of the house­hold. Offer­ings of food and gifts are placed out­side for her, as she is said to walk among the hill­sides on that night. St. Brigid’s cross­es are also made in the shape of a sun wheel to hon­or both the God­dess and the new­ly arrived Sun.

The cel­e­bra­tion of Imbolc in Scot­land is a bit dif­fer­ent with Brigid replac­ing the blue-faced hag of the High­lands, who is the win­ter ver­sion of the God­dess. Her name is Cail­leach Bheur. This fes­ti­val of Brigid was at one time only open to the women of the High­lands.****
***used by per­mis­sion from The Realm of the Red Rose.. Eva Bel­lam­bi****

Radio Riel pro­duces this pro­gram in con­junc­tion with the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gram now at http://main.radioriel.org . Today’s music orig­i­nates from the music library of Soliel Snook.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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