The 2nd of February is of course, the Celtic festival of Imbolc, which means 'in the belly' referring to the pregnant ewes giving birth at this time. One of its other names, Oimelc meaning 'ewes milk', also referring to the birth of the lambs, and the return of milk to the household. Sacred to the goddess Brighid, who became St Brigit with the coming of Christianity this time is known as Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau in Wales, and more generally the Christian festival of Candlemass.
Brighid may well have given her name to Britannia the sovereign goddess of Britain, but she is best known as a goddess of the hearth and home, as well as milking, midwifery, healing, smithcraft and poetry. Brighid is a fiery goddess, connected to the rising Kundalini in the earth at this time, bringing the spring. She is said in Scottish folklore to have to defeat the Cailleach or goddess of winter each year to bring life back to the land.
It's the first week of May, which -- along with Beltaine -- means it's finals time. Now that I'm a professor I'm on the "grading" rather than the "taking" side of the exams, but I'm not entirely sure that makes things less stressful! In the midst of all the finals time tasks -- grading papers, answering panicked emails, crafting review sheets and exams, and generally wrapping up my classes -- I've been surfing a wave of inspiration for new ideas for my Etsy shop, my Tarot blog, more metaphysical classes I want to offer, and various writing projects I want to undertake. It is quite like me to get very inspired when I have a pile of rather mundane tasks to square away.
When Brigit came up as the Goddess for this week, it was a bit like meeting an old friend. Brigit (or Brighid) has been one Goddess I've worked with consistently in my practice. I like her triune nature, as patroness of poetry, smithcraft, and midwifery. I appreciate that she is the one who brings imbas, the fire in the head that is inspiration. The first circle I ever practiced with was dedicated to Her, and our major Sabbat celebration was Imbolc/Brighid. It will be nice to spend the next week with her, as I navigate the waters of both inspiration and obligation.
Imbolc, though most often observed on the first of February, approximately half-way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, is more than a celebration of a day. Historically it marks the season of lambing and lactation in the ewes – the old Irish Imbolg meaning in the belly, and the medieval Oimelc, meaning ewes milk. In this respect, Imbolc is a season and the heralding celebration was often observed as much as two weeks before or after the beginning of February.