We need to recover the Strong Sacred Feminine. Brigid Helps in Two Ways.
Happy Imbolc and Happy Brigid’s Day! What do an ancient Triple Goddess and a 5th Century Saint have in common? How do they both help us recover the Sacred Feminine?
Brigid: Triple Goddess or 5th Century Saint? Or both? What does she and the Celtic celebration associated with her have to offer us?
Imbolc – Spring and New Beginnings
In the Celtic seasonal calendar, Imbolc marks the beginning of Spring. It is associated with fertility and abundance as it coincides with the lambing season in Europe and the stirrings of new life above and below ground. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, this festival falls in the first few days of February.
While the days may still be short and cold, you may notice snow drops of winter aconite beginning to bloom. Did you know that although it is now celebrated on February 1st, the date changes every year? It’s an astronomical festival, marking the precise mid-point between the Solstice and the Equinox. This year it was on February 3 at 9:20 ET.
St. Brigid/the Triple Goddess
More importantly, Imbolc is associated with the great feast-day of St. Brigid (Bride, Brigit, Brighid, Britannia). The Celts honored her as the threefold goddess of goddess of fire, healing, and poetry/wisdom.
She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. Even today in the Hebrides, people pray to her to protect their homes and hearth. She is also the patroness of smithcraft — especially metalworking. The name Brigid means “Bright Flame.”
An Eternal Flame
I am struck by the fact that both the goddess and the saint kept an eternal flame burning. In both traditions, 19 women tended that flame. Legend has it that Brigid herself tended the flame on the 20th day. The tradition continues: when you go to Kildare today, the nuns of her order have built a beautiful St. Brigid center. They have moved the fire from the ancient church in Kildare to that center, and they maintain it so that it never goes out.
Goddess of Healing, Fertility, and Patroness of Midwifery
Brigid is also a Goddess of healing. She is associated with holy wells where people still go today to get healing. I was fortunate to visit her well and spring in Kildare, as part of my Ireland pilgrimage in September. When people visit, they often tie “clooties” – pieces of cloth – to branches of trees or even to her statue. Each one is a prayer for healing.
One tradition says that at this shrine, she taught humans how to gather and use herbs for their healing properties, how to care for their livestock, and how to forge iron into tools.
She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. As a goddess of childbirth and protector of all children, she is the patroness of midwifery.
The Irish Muse of Poetry and Protector of Learning and Culture
In her third aspect, the goddess Brigid was revered as the Irish goddess of poetry and song. Renowned for her hospitality to poets, musicians, and scholars, she is known as the Irish muse of poetry.
The Christian monastery eventually built upon the site of her sacred shrine continued this tradition and became known as a great European center of learning and culture. Indeed, it was instrumental in preserving much ancient learning and literature during the Dark Ages.
The Goddess and the Saint
Brigid was so loved as a Goddess, and her traditions were so intertwined with daily life, that today, she is mostly celebrated as St. Brigid the 5th century nun. She is one of the three patron Saints of Ireland (the other two being Columba and Patrick). She was also a contemporary of St. Patrick.
More than that, she was one of the most influential women of her times. She was a bishop of the Celtic Christian Church. She also founded one of the earliest monasteries. Hers was a double monastery: including both men and women.
Her feast day, Feburary 1st, is called Candelmas in the Roman church. It’s the day on which all the candles for the year were brought to the church to be blessed. The connection with fire continues!
How She Became a Bishop
The story of her becoming a bishop is really fun. It goes like this: A bishop came to Kildare to consecrate Brigid as abbess of the monastery she founded. However, every time tried to start the service, the wind would blow his book open to the service of consecration of bishop. Eventually he realized it was the “wind of the Spirit,” gave in, and he consecrated her as bishop. She became the first female bishop in the British Isles.
Brigid has much to offer us as we prepare for the last outer planet’s (Pluto’s) move into Aquarius. We are in the midst of the biggest transformation that any of us have experienced. While I’ve been writing mostly about the astrological aspects of this shift, remember that it is a shift that has been prophesied by many different ancient cultures all over the world.
Restoring balance through the sacred Feminine
I’ve been writing about the shift from top-down power to power of the people. I’ve also been writing about the shift into unity consciousness.
Another major shift is coming as well, one that I haven’t talked much about: a shift in masculine-feminine balance. Both the 5th Century bishop who was head of a double monastery, and the triple goddess whose traditions became intertwined with the flesh and blood Brigid, bring a much-needed balance to the patriarchy and toxic masculinity (and femininity) of the past 2000 plus years.
We need to recover the strong Sacred Feminine. We need real flesh and blood models of strong, capable women. Brigid provides both.
As you celebrate the stirrings of new life associated with Imbolc and Brigid’s Feast Day, I leave you with this Imbolc blessing:
Midwife of Mystery, open the door,
Infant of the Infinite, come you in.
Let there be welcome to the newborn truth,
Let there be welcome to the Spring of the Year.
In cold and darkness you are traveling,
In warmth and brightness you will arrive.
May the stirring of life underground,
stir new dreams into life within you.
May the flames of inspiration and new growth
be ignited within your Being.
May the blessed time of Imbolc
Kindle the soul of all beings,
Bringing birth to innocence and integrity
From the depths to the heights,
From the heights to the depths,
In the heart of every soul.
Happy Brigid’s Day/Happy Imbolc!
It’s wild out there! If you would like individual support, I have a few openings for new clients. Check it out here. Or book a free Discovery Call to explore working together. I am also offering a way that you can be attuned to these shifts, grounding in the year and healing work so that you can navigate everything that is happening. If you would like this group support, my Annual Attunement Package is now open. Here is the link for more information. I would love to support you in this watershed year!