Jan 27, 2012

Imbolc and St Brigid folklore and magick

When asked, many will tell You how Imbolc is a Pagan holiday celebrated on 1st of the February. This is, at least , in part, very true. I however believe that it definitely predates Pagan religions , for there are implications in anthropological society, that it was celebrated  during the Neolith even. Furthermore, anyone could really celebrate Light, Arrival of the Spring, and Fertility can they not? Those are rather universal concepts, figuring in so many religions  , as well as traditions. It’s also time of power for those who are eclectic practitioners, suitable for fire spells of all kind,  and divination.

Tradition suggests plenty types of spiritual workings that can be done on Imbolc; one can light candles to help the Sun  in overcoming the dark period of Year, and   symbolize the  lengthening t of daytime; or to honor St Brigid. Clothes and ribbons are left outside in order to be blessed and thus empowered by St.Brigid, traditional food is prepared, and used;  such as dairies , butter and cakes. Processions of  young girls caring “Brideog”  occur, to greet to forthcoming light . and start of the Light  period of the Year. Dianic Wiccans often perform initiations on this day.

St Brigid, butter, bed and maidens

Many folk rituals , festivities and ceremonies preformed on this day are associated with St Brigid or also with the Celtic deity Brigid. The line that separates Christian folklore, and that of the Celtic Pagans , associated with this particular time of the year, in time has almost completely faded away, leaving the scholars of all kinds
( anthropologists, theologists , historian , ethnologists etc, ) subject for futile and overheated debates. Folk people , in all their “simplicity” seem to know better, they practice what their ancestors and culture taught them, and there are no conflicts between Christian and pagan folk on Imbolc. To each it’s own, If You are in  the clear about who You honor and why, You can hardly ever go wrong about it.
One of such, traditions; interlacing folk practices,  includes making of Brideog and bed for her , which is called Brigid’s bed. The bed is then “fed” with milk and honey , sometimes with butter as well and becomes something of  a ''status symbol' of the maiden that made it. She carries it  throughout the whole house, greeted with respect and presented with gifts,from her family  members, and she even sleeps next to her Brigid’s bed. For as the belief goes;  St. Brigid herself, blesses, and protects these maidens that make beds for here, and carry it on festivity processions In her honor. Therefore appeasing the Maiden meant appeasing the deity/Saint as well , thus gaining their favors. I have wrote few lines of info on Brigit’s bed last year, on here http://shadowsmagickplace.blogspot.com/2010/02/imbolc-fire-oil-and-weather-divination.html

St Brigid ( or Brigit as one of     the many offered spelling ) is one of the Patron Saints of Ireland, who had liven  between  451-525. She was a nun, an abbess, and the founder of many monasteries.[1] A commendable soul according to many,    who had preformed many miracles. Her parents were her dad Dubhthach , a pagan chieftain of Leinster and mother Brocca, Christian , and former slave baptized by St Patrick according to hagiographers.

Saint Brigid is celebrated even today, as a great helper of the poor , for she was always, ever since childhood  widely  known  to give charity. According to  one legend    ;  as child she gave away her mother’s whole store of butter, which was later replenished miraculously as answer to St. Brigid’s prayers.
She founded a small cathedral city, starting from small oratory cathedral of Cil Dare or Kildare , that had monasteries for man and women. Oak wood is associated with Kildare and knowing that and association of Madonna’s lily ( Lilium candidum ) and Brigid’s anemone ( Anemone Coronaria ) , we can compound an oil suitable for work with her, use on Imboloc, Candlemass

St Brigid’s oil

• Piece of Oak wood
• Madonna Lily flower
• Brigid’s Anemone
• Few drops of milk or melted butter
• Olive oil as base with Vit E capsule

According to   an early Orthodox Christian legend, she was able to take her eye out of head, which  in turn ,convinced her father not to force her to marry a men she did not like, and was supposed to go for. She had than prayed to Lord and was through Divine help able to put her own eye back into her head and completely heal.
It has also been reported that she healed a leprous man who   had  brought a cow to be blessed by St, Brigid ( in some versions asked for a cow ), she cursed the apple trees at one monastery because of pettiness and parsimony of a nun that gave her basket  full of apples,  which she had gave out to poor, prompting the nun  to complain about  it  . She had also been known to bless fruit trees of those that gave away to the poor, and those trees would accordingly be healthy and bear twice as more fruit than earlier .

Her color is white, for she is depicted wearing white or black robes, holding a lamp, symbolic of purity, perpetual Divine light and Illumination. Her symbol is  Brigid’s Cross.
Her feast day is 1st February, or 14th among Orthodox Christian churches that follow Julian calendar.
On Imboloc she is often offered with butter and milk, which might have to do with legend about her childhood charity act and miracle or restoration of butter. One such example is given latter

Imboloc ideas, charms , spells and divinations

Imboloc is traditional time for divination , and  in  some of the   traditions,   also initiation. Partucularily prominent are weather divinations , and pyromancy.
For example seeing a cat scratch her ear on Imboloc was supposedly sing of storm, closed pine cones predicted  moist/damp  weather. If Candlemass weather is nice and pleasant, winter will be there for a while ( more ), and vice-versa   , If it rains and is cold on Candlemass rain is gone. If a groundhog sees it's own shadow on the  Candlemass day, it apparently means there are six more weeks of Winter [2] I have had written on association of mythical figure Cailleach and weather divination here http://shadowsmagickplace.blogspot.com/2010/02/imbolc-fire-oil-and-weather-divination.html

This is also the day associated with all sort of divinations. In Eastern Europe for example, quite popular are  some  fire divinations   ;  where the flames would be asked questions, and the bending would be inspected, for answers . Today same can be done with  a simple candle flame , minding some basic “code”  to interpret  the  answers/omens,

• flame bending left – no
• flame bending right – yes
• flame decreasing or bending down – slowly, maybe , weakly
• flame rising or bednig up – swiftly, likely to, prominently
• flame flickering often – omen of danger, approaching or passing
• flame burning strongly, steadily and bright – good fortune, presence of kind spirits

People  also like to do bone divinations, in Eastern Europe pelvic bone divination is often employed, where dots, colors and auspicious shapes are inspected. Also , often consulted is    the chicken’s wishbone. Smaller bone fraction ending  up in right hand meant “no” , while the bigger faction meant “yes”. Usually employed to see if some wish is coming true.

Milk is sometimes poured into cauldron with optional addition of butter, and chosen plants   are  dipped. Cauldron is encircled with candles, and praye d over. The plants are then taken out, dried and considered to be extremely powerful in magick and charm making, so used throughout the year. This simple ritual symbolizes another common practice of Imolc and that’s empowerment and consecration of items . Since it’s believed that Brigid or St. Brigid walks among humans on this day, people leave ribbons, fabrics , stockings etc outside, in the eve and in the morning they collect this, now charged power objects that are believed to bestowed luck and blessings. This was often done by Young maidens for the it’s believed that the St.Brigid is particularly   kind to them.

Many candles are lit, usually on windows sills, to greet the lengthening of the day. Any candle could be asked question and then through ceromancy , answer s obtained.

Here is a neat suggestions for the ritual according to Cass Eason :

Make one very large candle to serve as the main Candlemass candle, and when You light it allow everyone to make a secret wish for the coming spring.
As You make smaller candles to shine in every window , visualize each one being endowed with optimism, for new beginnings, new directions and plans, and name one for each absent family member or friend.
Prepare a feast that includes delicious seed breads and cakes, milk, honey, seeds of all kind, lamb and dairy products, and spend the evening playing party games and charades.
If You have decision to make light two candles of the same size and thickness and endow each with an option. The one to burn down first indicates the right choice
” [3]

Colors of the day are white, silver , pale yellow. Corresponding stones and gems include but are not limited on : Rubies, Sun Stone , Bloodstone, Garnet, Onyx, , Amber etc. Incenses include Frankincense, Bay, Ben zoin , Basil , Myrrh , Dragon’s blood and Cinnamon, among other, and herbs Angelica, Basil, Bay, Rosemary , Snowdrop, Daisy, Saffron, Sage and others.

Have a bright, Blessed Imboloc
Blessings Shadow

NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself, so If You would like to use any part of it elswhere, provide credits, Shadow of Shadows magick place, Shadow-333@hotmail.com or a direct link to this post.CREDITS AND REFFRENCES:[1] www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigit_of_Kildare
[2] paraphrased from, Doreen Valiente “Natrail magic” and “Folklore in Adam county Illinois” by Harry Middletone Hyatt, used for educative and explanatory purposes here
[3] Quoted from Cassandra Eason’s “Candle magick” , for explanatory and discussion purposes, without any ill will
IMAGE CREDITS:IMAGE CREDITS : St Brigid’s image is from , Wikipedia site, as listed under [1] above, Candles image is common Microsoft word application, slightly edited by myself, and both are used here for illustrative and explanatory purposes only, without ill will

No comments: