For many years, I’ve had an interesting relationship with Brighid-Goddess of the Dawn, fire, hearth, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. And those are just a few of Her areas. She is One who brings light and inspiration, vision and prophecy as well. Brighid is the goddess who has been with me from the beginning of my witchcraft and Pagan journey. For me, Brighid is She who is near. Always.
Brighid: We Met Beneath An Apple Tree
Early in my days as a Witch, Brighid came to me in a vision during meditation. I had been drawn to Her, reaching out. That day, She appeared beneath an apple tree with its fruit in one hand and a flame in the other. She spoke words of comfort and acceptance.
But twenty years ago, I never got past exploration– Wicca, Traditional Witchcraft, Christian Witchcraft and the magickal practices of those paths–and got scared by old dogma still rattling around in my head. So, eight years after my first encounter with the goddess I went back to the Church. However, Brighid knew I would return to Her one day. And when I did, She welcomed me with open arms.
By then, I had no interest in devotion to any deity. Yet, Brighid remained patient. Not because the goddess needs me, rather because I need Her. She and I worked together in a non-religious sort of way for several years. She is whom I sought for guidance while practicing divination, working as a psychic or when in need of clarity. She has been the one I approach when performing healing spells. And Brighid’s flame will always light the path whenever blocks hinder my writing. Yet still, I resisted devotion.
That is, until a devotional practice with Hekate began to spur my transition from “working with a supervising deity” to honoring the goddesses whom I love and respect. And it has not been an easy journey. But as a result of my Hekataen experience, Brighid has my open dedication as I meditate, present offerings before Her image, seek Her presence and light a candle on my altar in Brighid’s name. Which is why Imbolc has even more meaning for me now.
Brighid’s Day: Imbolc
People understand or approach Imbolc as part of the Wheel of the Year in a variety of ways. Traditionally, it signalled lambing season for the Celts. An important time in an agrarian society. As an observance in modern times, Imbolc celebrates light, fertility, birth, new growth (inspiration and manifestation can be included in these themes), along with the hope of Spring.
In A Solitary Imbolc Ritual, Jason Mankey discusses the day (February 1 or 2) as a time of personal transition, an excellent endeavor within the liminal space between Winter and Spring. Some may know the day as Candlemas or simply look to the Groundhog for a weather prediction over the next six weeks.
For me, the day will be more focused on honoring Brighid. My plan is to create a Brighid’s Cross to add to Her space on our family altar. Light a candle to represent Her eternal flame. There will be flowers and colors which correspond with the goddess. I plan to spend time reading Her lore. I may offer a libation of blackberry tea, bake lavender cookies or plant seeds in my window garden. Whatever I do, the day will be spent remembering Brighid.
For me, one part of preparing for Imbolc is Spring cleaning. This is as much a part of ritual as anything I will do on the day of Imbolc. I love this because where we live it’s cold and often snowy in February. The sun doesn’t make an appearance because Michigan Winters include endless days of clouds. Basically, we have the kind of Winter which makes you want to stay wrapped up in a warm blanket, drink a hot beverage and hibernate.
Imbolc encourages me to look ahead.
To remember my days will be filled with sunshine, green grass and flowering trees soon. To remember that in a few short months I will be able to restore my herb garden. To sweep away dust (and negative energy), throw out clutter (physical/ spiritual/emotional) and take pleasure in the simple things. And to plan ways of honoring my goddess in the local community, such as through cleaning the banks of a nearby river when the weather warms.
So, if you celebrate Imbolc then consider this aspect of your celebration (if you’ve not done so before). If you’re new to the idea that cleaning can be part of meaningful ritual, then I invite you to try it out in one room. Focus your intention as you clean or go through items that are no longer useful. Purify the energy which has built up in your home since the holidays.
You may be surprised by the experience and result.