All posts are copyright Barbara Rogers 2018. Please ask if you wish to share, and give attribution to the author.My ancestry and more personal notes are now at a revised version of "When I Was 75."

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Imbolc to all

I've re-worked a post from last year...the message is even more appropriate this year.  A forge tender is definitely needed in dealing with the fires of our lives in our culture today.
Brigit: the fiery one...keeper of the fire, but much more than that.  She is the goddess of healing, poetry, and smithcraft, (metal working, and jewelry.)
Bridgit lantern
This was one of my earliest lantern shapes.  Since Bridgit's Day (Imbolc) is today, February first, I thought I'd share her again.

She's quite an interesting goddess turned saint for the Christians.

At this time, nuns in Ireland now keep Bridgit's eternal flame alight again.  Wikipedia says the Celtic goddess Brigid,was the goddess of agriculture and healing and also of poetry and fire.

She is known to have started the tradition of keening when someone you love dies.  And she taught people how to whistle, as a way of communicating through the woods at night.

Author Elizabeth Cunningham speaks of Bridgit and compares her to Patricia Monaghan here.

A few miracles have been handed down from the stories, such as the one about her cloak and the king.  Wikipedia says it this way:
One of the more commonly told stories of St. Brigid was when she went to the King of Leinster to ask for land to build a convent. She told the king that the place where she stood was the perfect place for a convent. It was beside a forest where they could collect firewood and berries. There was also a lake nearby that would provide water and the land was fertile. The king laughed at her and refused to give her any land. Brigid prayed to God and asked him to soften the king’s heart. Then she smiled at the king and said “will you give me as much land as my cloak will cover?” The king thought that she was joking and because Brigid’s cloak was so small he knew that it would only cover a very small piece of land. The king agreed and Brigid spread her cloak on the ground. She asked her four friends to hold a corner of the cloak and walk in opposite directions. The four friends walked north, south, east and west. The cloak grew immediately and began to cover many acres of land. The king was astonished and he realized that she had been blessed by God. The king fell to the ground and knelt before Brigid and promised her and her friends money, food and supplies. Soon afterwards, the king became a Christian and also started to help the poor and commissioned the construction of the convent. Legend has it, the convent was known for making jam from the local blueberries which was sought for all over Ireland. There is a new tradition beginning among followers of St. Brigit to eat jam on the 1st of February in honour of this miracle.  

But the eternal flame, which used to be tended by the nuns at her convent, has been through several politically driven times, when it was allowed to go out, and now it is under the care of some of Bridgit's followers.  When it was originally started, only 19 women were allowed to tend the flame, (with dire threats to any men who came nearby) for 19 days and nights, but on the 20th night, nobody watched the fire, because the goddess herself was tending it.

Imbolc is the Irish and pagan holy day which fits the agricultural year, the time of ewes having their milk return as they get ready to give birth to lambs.

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