On the crossing – Celtic Imbolc and St. Brigid

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May the darkness within you recognize

there’s hope for clarity paths ahead

from the Imbolc blessing

Heavy clouds hug the beginning of February, the rain does want to stop. And the lockdown in Ireland will be until March. The crisis is perching on the windowsill along with green mold. Therefore, instead of looking out the window, I stare at Instagram, and I recognize a familiar symbol in the photo – a square cross made of rushes.

Because today is Imbolc – a Celtic festival of the end of dark winter days, and ritual of cleansing. This is also festival of poetry, art and craft. Although it is not yet visible, it is the first day of spring in Ireland as well. Maybe there is a hidden light in the difficulties we are experiencing now?

On the crossing

So, I leave the Instagram and look out from the window. On the wet crossing I see the goddess Brigid – the daughter of druid Dagda and Saint Brigid, born in the 5th century in Dundalk, 250 km from Galway.
In Celtic tradition, the mystical Brigid was worshiped, the goddess of fertility, poetry, arts, healing, and crafts. And St.Brigid (also speling as Bridget) is today next to St. Patrick’s second patron of Ireland. There was a discussion on the radio that it should be a day off as well, because this a next large holiday on the island.

Imbloc and Lá Fhéile Bríde – this is hybrid festival, where Celtic and Christian traditions mix together and at the same time they reconcile with each other in some way. This is a good a reminder as any to the festival’s ancient and mythological origins. Imbolc comes from the word “i mbolg” which means “in the belly”, because this is the period when little sheep are born.

The crosses made from rushes

Square crosses plaited from bunch of rushes or made in other artistic ways bring people closer to Celtic mythology, and also to Christians tradition. When you visit Ireland you will see these popular symbols almost everywhere. The crosses from rushes hang in pubs, shops, offices, schools and in private homes over the door. It is also good to put piece of cloth or ribbon called Brat Bríde or Ribín Bríde on the windowsill. Since according tradition, when Saint Brigid travels the country on the eve of her holiday, touches Brother Bríde, and is giving special healing properties that protect both people and animals from disease and pain.

It is time to seek light

Imbolc and St. Bridge’s day are celebrated in Ireland on 1st February, but before it was actually manifested from mid-January and celebrate for a longer period. So it is time to seek the light. Many people today also write or read poems. The rain doesn’t care, it’s still pouring down, we getting wet and it is hard. But tomorrow I will go to the Atlantic shore and will search of rushes, to make my cross. Today I am lighting a candle and I am grateful to all who give hope.

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2 Comments On the crossing – Celtic Imbolc and St. Brigid

  1. Sharon 2 February 2021 at 03:12

    I needed a reason to celebrate this day. Wonderful that these ancient traditions are beacons of light and hope. I hope too that you find the rushes to make your cross.

    1. Blue Tram 8 February 2021 at 16:41

      Hi Sharon, I still didn’t go after the rushes, but I will. 🙂


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