Early February marks the second quarter on the ancient Celtic wheel of the year. It’s the quickening of the growing sunlight when ewes begin birthing lambs.
The Irish Goddess Brighid is traditionally celebrated at this time for her sacred fire, which manifests as healing, the forge of smithcraft, and the bright light of inspiration in the form of poetry.
Her Irish name is variously translated as “bright arrow” or “exalted one” and spelled Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, or Bridget.
“Brigid went out in the early dawn,
and saw a horse with a shattered leg.
Bone to bone she knit, flesh to flesh,
vein to vein she sewed, sinew back to sinew.”
(from The Goddess Companion)
Brigid’s Fire Craft:
“She ruled the mysteries of metalworking, an ancient art that aroused awe among early societies.
. . . The smith could use fire to transform stone (the ore-bearing rock) into metal, then shape the metal into tools and weapons.”
(from Candlemas: Feast of Flames)
“Brigit, a female poet . . . the female sage and goddess, whom the poets venerated. It was because of this she was called 'the Poet's Goddes.' ...Brigit is from breo-aigit or fiery arrow."
Brigit supplied awen or the light of poetic inspiration to Celtic poets.
(from The Encyclopaedia of Celtic Myth and Legend and The Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology)
Straw or grass plaited into a Brigit Cross is a traditional way to honor her at the turning of the year toward spring. There’s a great video of an Irishman demonstrating step-by-step how to make a Brigit Cross.
My own efforts have never been quite so neat or symmetrical, but I enjoy the process, and try to use it as a meditative tool to reflect on what I hope to bring into the growing light.
During Candlemas, candles are blessed in Celtic churches in honor of the baby Jesus being presented at the Jewish temple after his mother Mary’s forty-day postpartum seclusion.
Candles are also a wonderful way to chase away the darkness in the dregs of winter.