In the Celtic calendar, the first of the four fire festivals of the year is Imbolc. It is celebrated on the second day of February.
The divinity acknowledged in these early Spring rites is the goddess Brigid, the queen of heaven. She is a primary member of the Celtic divinities and is closely associated with the land. She is the protector of the wells and springs. She is the guardian of nature, and therefore agriculture. She is specifically associated with livestock. Brigid is also the patron of the poets, artists, and others who create.
The symbolism of wells and springs reflects the connection to the waters of life that emerge from unseen sources. In psychological terms, this could signify the wisdom of the unconscious that flows from mysterious origins. The key is developing a practice of receptivity. For example, contemplating our dreams can open us to an awareness greater than our conscious knowing.
Brigid’s protection of agriculture and poetry underscores the need to tend our inner fertility. Tending our forms of creativity is crucial to a fulfilling life. Her association with fire also pertains to the creative life. Finding passion in our work is of great importance.
The plume of fire radiating from her head connects her to the life of the mind. Learning can be a form of service to the divinities. She is also the protector of travelers. This applies to both those who explore new terrains and those seekers who are on inner journeys.
One traditional practice on her day was to put baked goods out on the doorstep. They were called cakes for the queen of heaven. These offerings were often eaten by hungry travelers in her name. We might honor this custom by giving money to the homeless for something to eat on Imbolc. The idea is to find a way to share the boon. Those who have been blessed in life are called upon to develop some practice of service to others.
Sacred stories continue to touch our souls. We become aware of a dimension of significance in the turning of the seasons that is nothing short of radiant.
So, let us honor the Great Mother, the Queen of Heaven. May we be open to her many gifts of inspiration in this season of renewal.