This particular Imbolc celebration was held at a Unitarian Universalist Church. The church sanctuary had a labyrinth woven into the carpet. The event was set up with multiple activities, including weaving a Brigid’s cross. (I still can’t make a Brigid’s cross.) Another activity offered was a walking meditation in the pattern of the labyrinth. It was an interesting night. I had really just begun what I had no clue would feel like a long trial by fire. I had lost my home and I was frightened and alone. I was so grateful for the human connections I was making. I listened to other witches gush about Brigid but I could not relate.
I’ve felt a kinship with Brigid ever since.
Brigid is worshipped as a powerful triple goddess. Using the term, triple goddess, isn’t quite accurate, however. The three aspects of Brigit are actually, three sisters, all named, Brigit. Each sister is patroness of a different skillset. The Brigit of poetry holds a tablet and a crescent moon, the Brigid of healing is handling two snakes and the Brigid of smith-crafting carries a sword and blacksmith tongs.
Oh, and by the way, she’s also a Catholic saint.
“A WHAT,” you say?
There are many legends of Saint Brigid of Kildare. She was the first Irish nun and there are nuns dedicated to Brigid to this day. An interesting blend of Christianity and thinly veiled paganism can be seen at Kildare, the monastery / nunnery she founded in 470 AD, where nuns dedicated to Brigid worship maintain Brigid’s sacred well and a sacred flame in her honor. I was once gifted a candle that had been lit from this flame. This is a pilgrimage for many as well as a popular tourist site. There are a number of Brigid’s Wells, but the one at Kildare is probably the most famous. Many leave offerings and prayers at these wells and the water is believed to have healing properties.
Of course when you have a goddess that does so many things, she has a lot of sacred symbols and associations:
- Fire, light, candles, the sun, sunbeams
- The hearth, thresholds and doorways
- The forge, smithing
- Poetry, crafts, embroidery
- Arrows, bells, goddess symbols, celtic designs and symbols, cloaks, divination tools
- Red, white, and green, yellow and black
- Water, springs and wells
- Cauldrons, chalices
- Brigid’s Cross
- Swans, cows, sheep, farm animals, fish, the white snake, 2 entwined serpents, bees, owls, all hibernating animals
- Snowdrops, crocus, daffodil, trillium, dandelion, meadow flowers, violet, heliotrope
- Sage, chamomile, angelica, bay, fennel, mugwort, myrrh, rosemary, , heather, lavender, lemon verbena,
- Oak tree and acorn, willow trees - bark and branches, apple tree, rowan tree, heather, broom, wisteria, shamrock, reeds, straw, oats, corn, pumpkin seeds
- Large sandstone rock formations and henges, amethyst, rock crystal, gold, silver, copper, iron, steel, jasper, carnelian, azurite, garnet, peridot, serpentine, bloodstone, agate
- Milk, butter, cheese and all dairy products
- The number 19 (19 Priestesses were said to keep her perpetual flame going for 19 days and Brigid herself, would tend it on the 20th day)
- February 1: Imbolc
- February 2: Candlemas (The Catholic Celebration of Brigid)