Imbolc, Candlemas And The Goddess

February 1, 2018 - By 

 

Imbolc, Candlemas and the Goddess – Brigid – are central to the 1st or 2nd of February on the Irish Celtic calendar, which is regarded as the beginning of early spring time. It is a time of gentle, subtle fertility that derives from farming and the lambing season, when ewes – female sheep – are with lamb or in the early stages of expectancy. It’s the time of year in Ireland when beautiful white snowdrop flowers start to appear like jewels in the lush green grasses and cute little lambs tails grow as shoots from hazel trees … 

 

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Which Came First Candlemas Or Imbolc

 

Well actually Imbolc which is also sometimes referred to as the festival of awakening or the fire festival of Imbolc is the original forerunner here and has been marked as a special day of observance on the Celtic calendar and some historians and archaeologists can trace Imbolc as far back as Neolithic times due to megalithic monuments in Ireland, such as the hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley and especially what lies beneath – which is the mound of hostages – an ancient tomb that’s passageways are in alignment with the rising sun on the 1st and or 2nd of February, which causes the actual chamber to be bathed in (an almost) blindingly bright sunlight …

 

Imbolc also spread to the nearby Celtic lands of Scotland and Wales, though this special Celtic Pagan festival was renamed as Candlemas by the early adopters of the Christian religion round about the seventh century AD in a fervent concerted effort to diminish all things Pagan, Celtic and non Christian. By tradition the Celts would light candles as part of their observance of Imbolc and this ritual filtered down and crossed over to the Christian version of Imbolc. As it’s name suggests, Candlemas was a time when candles were blessed in Christian churches as well as in Christian homes to signify the purity of the Virgin Mother Mary 40 days after she stopped bleeding after giving birth to little baby Jesus. 

 

Imbolc, Candlemas And Predicting The Forthcoming Weather 

 

Old Celtic-Christian folklore has it, that the weather which befalls the 1st and 2nd of February determines if winter will linger a while longer or if spring will fully bloom. If the weather was bright and sunny interestingly it was thought to mean that winter would come back again with a vengeance, however if the weather was wet, windy and generally overcast it was believed that spring would soon blossom …  The Celts as well as many other ancient peoples looked @ the day time skies as an early form of divination. Weather divination or @ least cloud telling is something that is almost embedded within our DNA, as most of us remember laying on the grass as a child and looking up @ the white fluffy clouds and noticing certain images as they slowly drift overhead …  

 

The Connection Between Imbolc & Groundhog Day 

 

Groundhog day is a slight American variation of Imbolc and Candlemas and was brought to the United States by early Dutch, German and Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century who settled in Pennsylvania. For it is in this region of the US during early February that little groundhogs venture out of their winter hibernatory holes, in fact just like Candlemas, the weather can be predicted on groundhog day – if the groundhogs spend much time out of their holes on this day, then it’s a sure sign that early spring has arrived but if they quickly scurry back in their holes then winter will last until @ least early March. Groundhog day, falls on the 2nd of February each year and the early Pennsylvanian settlers would mark this day by not just being on the lookout for groundhogs but also continuing the spiritual-religious tradition of lighting candles which obviously derived from Imbolc and Candlemas.   

 

The Goddess Brigid Of Imbolc 

 

The Bride (often used by the Scottish) and Brigitania (traditionally used by the English) are sometimes used in reference to this much loved Irish Goddess but the time honoured name Brigid seems to be the most commonly used by the Irish, which is from whence this highly revered Pagan Goddess originates. Being a triple Goddess, she has dominion, authority and power over many things and so she is the Goddess of the fire and furnace or forge and hearth (blacksmiths and ironmongers called upon her to help them with their trades and to protect them from accidents while working). Brigid is also known as the goddess of fertility and childbirth (and Irish folklore has it that she was mother to 3 sons), plus she is also the Goddess of health and healing as well as poetry and last but by all means not least, Brigid is the Irish Goddess of peace and unity.

 

Symbols Of Brigid On Imbolc 

 

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Imbolc and the Feast Day of Saint Brigid both land upon the same day – on the 1st or 2nd of February in any given year – so it’s no surprise that Brigid the maiden and Bride of Springtime is also the deity most widely associated with Imbolc. Her flower is the splendid yet humble snowdrop which can be seen growing forth from the green grasses of Ireland @ this very time of early spring, her birds are the swans that effortlessly and elegantly glide upon the waters of Ireland and her element is of course fire and her colours are naturally bridely white, fiery orange and grassy green.

 

Traditions On Imbolc

 

In ancient times the Irish would light fires on Imbolc and sing songs about Brigid and so the lighting of candles became an obvious and sometimes more convenient and practical alternative. To further commemorate and celebrate Imbolc the Irish Pagans also made intricately woven crosses from reeds, willow or even straw to symbolise Brigids deity-ship and this tradition has continued through the ages up to present times. Brigid dolls are also made for Imbolc, which often represent Brigid in her maidenhood and just as the blacksmiths of long ago used to do on this special day – horseshoes are hung up as the shape of a “U” as a token of good luck and it is believed the planting of seeds on this auspicious day will bring a bountiful crop … 

 

Quote By Anon

 

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
winter will have another fight,
If Candlemas day brings cloud and rain
Winter wont come again

 

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