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Ideas for celebrating Imbolc, St Brigid's Feast and Candlemas

(Imbolc is celebrated from dusk on February 1st, until dusk on February 2nd. Candlemas is February 2nd too. St Brigid's feast day is 1st February, but is often also celebrated from dusk, as Imbolc is.)

To read

Sacred Earth Sacred Soul, by John Philip Newell. This was a favourite read of mine last year, as it covers Celtic Christian thinking from its birth to modern day. My only disappointment is that Brigid is the only woman profiled, the rest of the inspiring figures are men. Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess, by Courtney Weber. Written by a Priestess of Brigid, I found this book to be beautiful detailed in its research of the myths of Brigid, and also the most generous Pagan voice I’ve encountered towards Brigid the Saint, and the way the story unfolded as Christianity entered the scene. It is aimed at other Pagan practitioners, with ideas for rituals and prayer practices at the end of each chapter, many of which could be adapted to a different theology. In the Sanctuary of Women, by Jan Richardson. This beautiful book of reflections and blessings on six individuals or groups of women is one I return to again and again. There's a whole wonderful chapter on Brigid, with reflections of the invitation Brigid's story has for us. Here's an old old blog post of mine from back in 2014, when I was discovering the Celtic Wheel of the year, and had just felt the first kick of my daughter within me... (I love remembering where I was and seeing where the journey has carried me since then!)

To practise

  • Make a Brigid's cross from reeds, grasses or craft materials you might have. These are traditionally hung above doors - the sacred threshold Brigid represents - as a sign of protection and provision.

  • Get out into the garden or another natural space. Notice the signs of spring coming - maybe make it a photo hunt, or take a sketchbook to draw what you find. Slow down and be present with this threshold between deepest winter and the first signs of Spring. How can you care for the earth in a small way? Perhaps make birdseed cakes to hang in the trees, or spend some time litter-picking a local area.

  • Bless your candles! In some traditions, the church blesses candles today. If you can find a local church holding a service, the liturgy is very lovely (I love hearing Simeon’s song sung by a choir). Or declare a candlelit dinner and invite family and friends to come and share the feast together!

  • Brigid has a close connection with the element of Fire and a perpetual flame has been kept lit at Kildare in her honour for many hundreds of years. Perhaps you can build a bonfire, and cook some food together over it, or just enjoy its warmth and light with a mug of hot chocolate. In Luxembourg at this time of year, they light massive bonfires in the villages to “chase away the winter”. It’s worth a try… 🙂

  • For food ideas, I love the work of Danielle Prohom Olson at Gather Victoria who writes about “magical cookery” and has a lot of delicious ideas for Imbolc here.

Looking for more ways to engage with St Brigid and Imbolc?

Download two pages of reflection questions to help you consider the invitation of Brigid and this threshold day in the Celtic Wheel.

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