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Sunday, 05 January 2014 07:49

Imbolc and Lughnassad

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Imbolc (pronounced without the 'b' sound) is sometimes known as Oimelc, which means 'ewe's milk'. 

The name refers to the birth of the first lambs of the year, and celebrates the return of fresh milk.  

The day is traditionally regarded as the first day of Spring, because

 

the days become visibly longer. 

Imbolc is the day of Saint Brigid, who according to tradition was the daughter of a druid (a member of the priestly and learned class in the ancient Celtic societies of Western Europe, Britain and Ireland.). 

Brigid's mother had a vision that the girl was to be named after a great goddess.  Brigid was born at sunrise while her mother was walking over a threshold, and and as a result her birth "was neither within nor without."  

In the Celtic tradition this is a sacred time when the doors between the worlds are open and magical events can occur.

Another legend tells that Brigid's mother was carrying a pitcher of milk at the time of her birth.  She used the milk to bathe her new-born girl.

As a child, Brigid was reared on the milk of a special white red-eared cow (a Celtic beast of the Otherworld), because she was unable to eat ordinary food. 

Brigid owned two magical oxen called Fea and Feimhean, and was also the guardian of Torc Triath, king of the wild boar.  These three totem animals used to raise a warning cry if Ireland was in danger.

In Scotland, the Old Woman of winter (the Cailleach) is reborn as Bride, the Young Maiden of Spring.  

Bridgid is the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. She is also the patron of dying, brewing and weaving. She wove the first piece of cloth in Ireland and wove into it healing threads which kept their power for centuries.

Reports of Brigid's deeds drew the attention of the famous Saint Brendan who visited her unannounced.  Brigid had been out working in the fields on a rainy day.   She was so surprised to see Saint Brendan in her house that she flung off her rain-cloak. The cloak caught on a sunbeam and to Saint Brendan's astonishment, hung there till it dried. 

Also see Saint Bridgit of Kildare

Read 1625 times Last modified on Friday, 14 February 2014 20:13
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