Imbolc means literally “in the belly”, which refers to both the birthing of young animals and the presence of Brigit in the center of the world at this time. Below, I say more about the holiday, taken from Atlas of the Year.
Imbolc was the inspiration for the first Studio Special in time for Valentines Day. The show is a series of nine Amulets for Animals that feature exquisite hand carved boxwood miniatures, inspired by traditional Japanese Ojimi, antique Prosser and Venetian beads. The amulets are leather necklaces that adjust from 15” – 35”. The Ojimi beads are so special, a tiny work of art that, despite its size, has a carved signature of the artist.
Also included are seven artworks on pastepaper, Light of the Earth. The one-of-a-kind series from 2012, Light of the Earth fits in with the theme. The art, collaged drawings on pastepaper, features pictographs of animals from the Chauvet Caves, France that are dated to 32,000 BC. At that time, I made a series of videos describing the process from the pastepaper to completion.
Imbolc is the first cross-quarter point of the new year, mid-winter. These mid-points are the accurately calculated dates between the Solstices and Equinoxes. For simplicity each of the four feasts are celebrated on given dates. Imbolc is celebrated on February 1—2, and begins at sunset on January 31.
The cross-quarter feasts honor the agricultural cycles, each one significant for the main focus of the cycle. They also are fire festivals, each honor a specific form of fire.
The Solstices and Equinoxes, by comparison, are solar, astronomical events marking the for main quarters of the yearly cycle. They happen in the moment the sun progresses into a cardinal astrological sign. Imbolc heralds spring, celebrates motherhood, the birth of animals & ewes coming into milk. Candle light is the form of fire associated with this festival.
Imbolc is dedicated to the goddess Brigit, protectress of women in childbirth, domestic life, healing, smithcraft, and muse to poets. She is celebrated in many cultures by different names; Brighid, Brid, Bride, Biddy, Bridgid, Briginda, Brigittina, Brigantia, and Birgittta. She was canonized as St. Brigit, whose feast day is February 1. It is also known as Candlemas.
A sacred fire burned in Kildare, Ireland reaching back into pre-Christian times. Priestesses gathered on the hill of Kildare to tend their ritual fires while imploring Brigid to protect their herds and to provide a fruitful harvest. The fire of Brigit was kept alive in her convents for a thousand years. Records show that a few attempts were made to have the fire extinguished but without
The sacred fire was re-lit in 1993, in the Market Square, Kildare, and continues to be tended by the Brigidine Sisters in their Centre, Solas Bhride Centre. Since then her candle light is passed from woman to woman to share the energy of healing and peace. Brigit’s legacy is marked by many healing springs dedicated to her.
When you visit me, I would be honored to share some Brigit spring water and a candle lit from the one I received several years ago.
The fire burns in a bronze sculpture representing on Oak tree, which symbolizes both the Christian beliefs of St. Brigit and the earlier Druidic worship of trees. The oak is also the namesake of Kildare, Cill Dara, Church of the Oak.