The Feast Day of Candlemass and Imbolg
Brigid, Maman Brigitte, Bride…by whatever name you know Her, she is the one who calls us back home to ourselves; the one that endures, the one that reminds us that no matter how difficult things become and no matter how broken our paths and promise might be there is a constancy running through our lives and testifying to our essential ability to be whole and intact. Imbolg and Candlesmass are the names given to her specific Feast Days.
Bride reflects us back to ourselves in the waters of her sacred well, and in the telling of her tale.
Her beginnings are in ancient Ireland where she did not easily fit into any single category:
Is she a mother? Yes.
Is she a maiden? Yes.
Is she an ancient and wizened one? Yes, that too, and everything in between including the occasional white cow, sheep, or goat.
Is she a Goddess of fire? Indeed.
But also a Goddess of water? For certain.
Is she a witch? Most certainly.
Is she a holy woman and Saint? Of course.
Is she a healer, a poet, a fertility bringer? Yes, all of that.
But then is she also a warrior, a blacksmith, one that might show up in the tavern with the best stories to tell? Yes, she is all of those things as well.
Some would say that she only became associated with the Dead and with the Ancestors when her veneration was brought into Haiti by indentured servants from Scotland and Ireland, who shared their love of Bride with the African slaves as both groups were forced to work the sugar plantations.
It was in Haiti that she became Le Grande Brigitte and/or Maman Brigitte, a powerful lwa in the Voudou pantheon recognized in the Caribbean as well as New Orleans and the Deep South.
But Bride’s strong and timeless association with the fey people, the Little Ones, in old Ireland tells me that she, like most Goddesses who know something of baby making and birth blessing also has known for aeons how to walk the tracks of the Underworld and be in congress with those who have passed beyond the veil – for the Ancestors and the faerie folk know each other quite well.
Her skin color, hair color, eye color, and accent changes from place to place, just as we change. Her refusal to fit neatly into any one box mirrors our own inability to do the same – we are after all miracles, containing an entire cosmos without our beating, sacred hearts and our inability to only be or do one thing does not mean that we are without unity.
The core of Bride holds strong and she endures as we do too and it is here we find her deepest teaching and the deepest way of honoring her.
For there are many ways to love her and many offerings to make; so whether you know her as the sheep milk and cheese loving great Goddess of Eire; the butter loving Saint who blesses all of the candles that will be used throughout the year, or the raucous woman who knows the cemetery like the back of her hand and likes hot peppers in her rum, Bride’s request is the same:
Bring all of who you are to my table. Leave no part behind, hold no part back. Remember the touchstones you call upon day in and day out, remember the deep unity you carry within you at all times, wherever it is, there you will find me waiting.
Bring all of who you are, including all that you need aid with, all that you wish to bless and honor, all that is heavy on your heart to her table. She is there. She has always been there. And she will continue to be there, always.