Posts Tagged ‘Imbolc’

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen
Snow on snow on snow

In the Bleak Midwinter by Christini Rossetti

It’s January. A difficult month for many – and that was before the stress of a pandemic was part of the equation. “In the Bleak Midwinter” is a beautiful song yet it seems to embrace the darkness and search for light that often comes with the dark season. Gone are the bright baubles and rich treats of the holidays. I would say gone are the festive gatherings of kith and kin, but many of us didn’t get those this year either. 

In short, the funk or depression that many experience in late winter could be more intense than in the past. 

While I’ve never experienced a true depression, I do sometimes have to work through a funk this time of year. Often, I turn to the goddess (and saint) Brigid and her holy day Imbolc (or Candlemas) as a focus for the dark season. Lighting a candle and thinking of the fire in her forge, the creativity she inspires as well as the warmth and caring she exhibits, guides me. It also helps to remind myself that the rest and introspection that comes with this time is spiritually rewarding and not to be avoided.

Knowing others might need a little light in the dark and encouragement to look at things a little differently, I thought I’d try to bring some fun to the season with a little giveaway (and this is definitely inspired by the amazing Jen over at Rue & Hyssop with her annual fall giveaway). 

First up is the Pagan Portals Brigid: Meeting the Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Forge, and Healing Well. The Pagan Portals series by Moon Books is great for beginning to understand a deity or subject. This 112-page book by Morgan Daimler proves an excellent introduction to Brigid, covering her history and many names, symbol and animal connections, prayers and charms, and more. 

Second on the list is The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven. I learned of this book listening to Gwion’s interview on the New World Witchery podcast and was instantly intrigued. My boyfriend gave me a copy for Yule, and I thought getting a copy to share would be perfect for this event. Then volume is a feast for the food lover’s soul as it not only offers recipes but also a history of food and ritual, how food is used in magic, and rituals and spells to try. A perfect gift for any magical hearthkeeper!

Finally, we have a cozy mystery, because sometimes the best way to get through a difficult time is to cuddle under a throw with your favorite hot beverage and a little bit of paper escapism (I work in a library – I know about these things). Bell, Book & Candlemas is the second book in the Wiccan Wheel mystery series by Jennifer David Hesse. It features lawyer Keli Milanni trying to solve the mystery of who vandalized the local New Age gift shop – without giving away her Wiccan faith that she has kept in the broom closet.

OK, so how do you enter? 

Honestly, Dryad and I would be ecstatic if you followed the Parting the Mists blog and liked Dryad Incense’s Etsy shop, but we will be happy if you just comment on this blog post as your entry (the actual blog post – not the Facebook or Twitter post). Be sure in the comment that you provide a way to contact you. Please let us know which book you’d like the most, and we will do our best to send winners the one they want, but some may want the same book so no promises. You have until Sunday, January 24, at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time to enter. We will draw three winners and announce them the next day and send the prizes on their way!

We hope you enjoy this little giveaway. Blessings of Avalon!

– Thistle & Dryad

 

Some legalese for you: 

  • No purchase is necessary to enter.
  • This giveaway is open to United States residents who are 18 years of age or older. 
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law – please know your local laws. 
  • This giveaway is sponsored by Parting the Mists and Dryad Incense and is not affiliated with WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter, nor can they be held liable.
  • By commenting with the intention of entering the drawing, you are knowingly agreeing to these rules. 
  • The giveaway prizes were chosen by the blogger and Dryad Incense. We were not paid to advertise these books, nor were the books endorsed or paid for by anyone other than the contest sponsors. 

 

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Brigid before me,

Brigid beside me,

Brigid behind me.

I am under the shielding

Of good Brigid

Each day and each night.

This is my nightly prayer – though often said in my mind rather than with my mouth – as well as my charm of protection whenever the need arises for one.

This came to me many years ago after first reading “The Descent of Brigid,” based on verses in the Carmina Gadelica, as well as several other protective charms to the Irish goddess and saint called Brigid, Brigit, Brig, or Bride, depending on your preference. If you are unfamiliar with this deity, this article on The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids is a good place to catch up.

Many people remember Brigid at her February festival of Imbolc, which many of us celebrated last week. We make a Brigid’s cross or bed, maybe eat some dairy-based dishes, sing one of her songs or another, and say a prayer to her. Then many seem to forget her with the coming of spring and festivities of Ostara and Beltaine. It seems that she was the goddess du jour when I was coming into Paganism in the late 90s. There does seem to be an inclination to be interested with the goddess of the moment, which blogger Daughter of Avalon discussed in her post “The Goddess Trend.” In it, she discusses how the changing world may be encouraging us to look at specific goddesses, rather than just following a trend.

Irish crosses

A Brigid’s cross of lavender stems and a Celtic cross both cross the threshold between Pagan and Christian.

Yes, Brigid has the advantage of being at the center of one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, where people weave reeds or straw into her crosses or eat dairy foods to represent the return of the milk. But many people forget her after that. And many who once revered her have since left her for the goddess of the moment. It’s a bit sad to me that more people who start with Brigid (and so very many of us did) decide to forget or abandon her for a different goddess. As a multifaceted deity, she can fit into almost any societal mood.

She is the strength and fire to forge both swords and plows.

She is the healer of people, animals, and sovereignty – not to mention legendary midwife to Mary and Jesus (clearly an embellishment to her legend, but it could offer a clue to her earlier veneration).

She is the breath of inspiration to the poet and artist.

She is the protector who lost and frightened souls call upon for strength.

She is the goddess that stands on the threshold and holds hands with Pagans and Christians on either side. She – much like the Celtic cross in some myths – is a symbol of two cultures combining. Considering many of us live in places where we are a spiritual minority, she may remind us to respect those who walk a different path, especially if we expect the same courtesy.

However popular she may or may not be, she is in my heart always. She was my first goddess. Not necessarily the first one I learned about after coming to the Pagan path in 1997, but the first one I felt called to. My only connection to community early on was a subscription to SageWoman magazine. The second issue I received was #40 Angels & Guardians, in which Diana Paxson’s long-running “One of Ten Thousand” column featured Brigid in her protector aspect. And just a year and a half later, Paxson’s column in Issue #46 again focused on Brigid but in her inspirational role. The Daughter of the Dagda had certainly caught my attention with her dualities of gentleness and burning flame, healing and forging. Not much later, I performed a self-dedication to Brigid.

Sagewoman articles – cat not included – were my introduction to this versatile goddess.

Sagewoman articles – cat not included – were my introduction to this versatile goddess.

Thinking back on it now, it seems she was especially attractive because she’s just as complex and multidimensional as all of us are (no matter how society may try to trim us with its cookie cutters). None of us are flat characters – some of us just appear that way because we’re afraid to show our real selves to the world.

Like many others who follow Pagan or goddess spirituality, I have no problem in honoring and working with multiple deities. And while Cernunnos, Abnova, the Morrigan, Lugh, the Green Man, and Airmid are all ones I feel connected to, Brigid remains the cornerstone of my spiritual foundation for the reasons above and many more.

So by all means, enjoy making a Brigid’s cross and eating custard on Imbolc, but please don’t forget about good Brigid the rest of the year. She is there for you no matter the season.

Until next time, bright blessings!

Thistle

 

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Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a blessed and peaceful Imbolc.

Traditionally a time to recognize the lengthening days and that spring is just around the corner, I love this time of year for taking walks in the brisk air, perusing seed catalogs, and resting up before the business of spring.

This painting of the Goddess Brigid was the feature of the temple at the Gaia Goddess Gathering in 2013.

This painting of the Goddess Brigid was the feature of the temple at the Gaia Goddess Gathering in 2013.

Of course, the Goddess and Saint Brigid is often the focus of this seasonal celebration, and there are so many traditional customs associated with this time: Brigid’s mantle, Brigid’s cross, attending to the hearth, milk-based dishes, shepherd’s pie, and more!

Tomorrow, I’ll be gathering with my soul family to have tea, tasty treats, make Brigid’s crosses, and plan out some activities for the year. How will you be celebrating Imbolc?

Bright blessings,

Thistle

PS: I really am working on a whole slew of posts to revitalize this blog. Pinky swear!

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