Saint Brigid and the Festival of Imbolg
Today, the 1st of February, is the beginning of the Celetic celebration Imbolg (also spelt Imbolc and pronounced Imm BOLL Ock/Ogg), it finishes tomorrow night and marks the beginning of Spring. For Christians it has also traditionally been the feast day of Saint Brigid.
Emerging snowdrops and daffodils remind us that the temperature is changing, and the light is returning. Ewes begin to get pregnant again and traditionally this is the day to begin milking again after the long Winter. Brigid is one of Ireland’s three patron saints and she is the patron saint of water wells. Her wells can still be visited to this day, one in Kildare (where she was born) which is one of Ireland’s oldest wells and is considered to have healing properties. Brigid is considered to have done many healings and is also the patron saint of babies, midwives, children whose parents aren't married, scholars, poets, travelers (particularly those who travel by water), and farmers (particularly dairy farmers). Supposedly, she was very beautiful, with particularly beautiful blue eyes, and was pursued by many suitors. Brigid however had decided not to get married, and instead to dedicate her life to God, so she prayed to God to make her ugly. This was done and blemishes appeared on her face and her eyes appeared swollen temporarily, all the men wandered off to do something else in this time and Brigid was left in peace.
Brigid founded several monasteries and became very important to Christians in Ireland. She eventually rose to the position of bishop which was very rare for a woman in 5th Century Ireland. The story goes that she was receiving her nun’s veil when the bishop, who was intoxicated with the grace of God, read the wrong passage thus consecrating Brigid as a bishop. Other accounts claim he was simply drunk.