Merry Meet All,
Imbolc is almost here! Imbolc is one of the three spring Sabbats. The Wheel of the Year turns on its axis to spring. We are passing the cold crust of winter and soon buds will be blossoming from the earth.
Ewes are nursing their lambs. Spring and the planting season are around the corner. The Goddess Brigid corresponds with Imbolc. In pre-Christian Ireland there was a goddess called Brighid, and she was the daughter of the god Daghdha. She was an ancient Mother deity to the Irish. The Irish Druids had their own concept of the Goddess Brighid. The Druidesses liked the goddess Brighid. The Druidesses were prized for foretelling the future, and the leaders trusted them. Brighid (The High One) was the new name for the goddess. She was credited with fertility aspects, agriculture, and animals. Goibhnui, whose name meant ‘smith’, and was a smith god, and Dian Cecht, whhose name translates to ‘he who travels swiftly’, their attributes were credited to Brighid. That is how the goddess came to be honored with the triple aspects of fertility, smithcraft and inspiration. The attributes remained with the Goddess Brighid (The High One) to this day.
Some Irish traditions keep to this day. In Ireland, it was customary to rake the ashes of the hearth over the embers, a custom known as coiglt as nine (raking the fire), which preserved the mother fire, the an mhathair and then the fire was stoked to life in the morning. Hearth prayers and blessings were recited and the same practice prevailed in Scotland. They depended on the hearth for warmth, healing and cooking. Another practice involved peat since it was a common fuel. Peat was easier to keep in the fire. It was called smaladh (in Celtic Gaelic, which meant hill or mound.) A ritual developed from the practices of tending the hearth. The women of the house created a circle from the hearth ashes. The circle was divided into three sections and a small mound in the center. “Three pieces of peat were laid between each section, with each piece touching the central mound. The first peat was laid down in the name of God of Life, the second in the name of the God of Peace, and the third in the name of the God of Grace.” Ashes were then covered over them. It was known as the Three of Light, Tula non Tri (Mound of the Three”. The Celts loved everything in threes. The woman closed her eyes, stretched out her hands, and intoned a charm for the hearth, the Beannachadh Slamadh (Smooring Blessings).
“Smooring the Hearth (Smaladh An Tula)
I will smoor the hearth
As Bride the Fostermother would smoor.
The Fostermother’s holy name
Be on the hearth, be on the herd,
Be on the household all.”
Another popular tradition was making Brighid’s crosses, a tradition that carries to this day. We still honor Brigid, the Goddess, during Imbolc. I will post more about Imbolc and Brigid this month. Be sure to stay posted to learn more about Imbolc.
Information for post from the book Brigid: Goddess, Druidesss, and Saint by Brian Wright.