Tales from the Northern Forests

The Feast of Brighid

Just like a rather well-known figure at Christmas...

A new year had just started 30 days ago. It was January and the year was 2015.
She was passing the village flower shop when on the spur of the moment she decided to go in and buy herself some flowers. She bought two bunches. The delicate white flowers immediately lifted her spirit.

The following day, Saturday the 31th of January she was running the bath when instead of adding her normal bath salts she suddenly chose one of the bath oils. The bath oil transformed the bath in a sea of white bubbles. She stepped in and bathed in the warm water while playing with the bubbles. Her lover walked in and gave her back a nice scrub. When she stepped out of the bath she felt cleansed and revitalised.

On Sunday the two of them enjoyed a nice romantic candlelight dinner. She had finally lit the silver candles she got from a neighbour a few months back.

That Monday, the 1st of February, she woke up to a frosty white morning. She got up quickly and went for a walk with her dog. They stepped on the frozen white ground, crushing the frozen white grass. She loved the soft sound of it. It soothed her.

Tuesday, the 2nd of February, on Imbolc Eve, she finally realised that the past few days she had celebrated The Feast of Brighid.

The Feast of Brighid

La Fhéill Bhrighde i
The spring in the air
on a wintersday in February
or maybe
even already, at the end of January
is like the fanfare
announcing your arrival.

Just in time for my revival.
For I have become old and smeary
weak and weary
and the vultures have already
gathered at my garden gate.

Bhrighde, Breath of new Life
spare me that dreaded fate.

Guardian of Fire and Hearth
walk up the short path
through my muddy and bare garth.

Let me bath in the warm water of your tears
and gently cleanse my wounds made by evil's spears.
Let me wash away the dirt and smears
of jealousy and rivalry
of gluttony and vanity
and of false fears.

With your sweet breath of fresh air
blow away
the folly and fantasy
that have nested in my hair.

Wrap me in the bandages of your Love
that fit like a glove
and heal my open wounds
and mend my broken bones and heart.

Then, before I have to make a new start
come and sit with me
while your fire warms me
tell me a story
that will remind me
of here and now and harmony

Or sing me a song
about right and wrong
and the immortal family
to which I once more will belong.
Bhrighde, Breath of new Life
Muse of Art and Poetry
I greet thee.

Just like a rather well known figure at Christmas, Brighid, the fourfold Celtic Goddess of fire & hearth, birth, abundance, and craft
& arts (in particular poetry) ii, is said to visit each and every house on Imbolc Eve. Imbolc is mostly celebrated on February 2nd and means 'in the belly/womb' refering to the pregnancy of ewes at that time of year.
Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brighid to bless. The head of the household will smother the fire and rake the ashes smooth. In the morning, the clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside and the ashes are checked for marks, a sign that Brighid has passed that way during the night. The clothes or strips of cloth are then believed to have powers of healing and protection.

Brighid's feast is not only a feast of healing. It is that time of the year that the land is still covered in frost and snow. But the white snowbells herald the return of the light and the big bellies of the ewes announce not only the immanent arrival of the lambing season but also of spring.
Brighid represents the light half of the year and the power that will bring the world from the dark winter into spring. She represents the tender warmth and gentle strength that nature needs to rekindle the flame of life. She is the womb, safeguarding and nourishing, from which new Life will emerge.

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© Brigitte Franssen 2009

  1. Brighde is simply the Gaelic way of spelling. Gaelic is a descended from Old Irish. These Celtic languages are also spoken in areas of Scotland and France. The language has no similarities with English what so ever.
  2. Kaster, J., Poort naar de klassieken, Baarn, 2000, ISBN 90 6801 681 4.
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