Spring is coming – can you feel it? Although there is still snow on the ground and the prospect of more to come, the snowdrops are already up and in flower, the mornings are noticeably lighter, and the sluggish energy following New Year starts to gear up for the months ahead.The beginning of February marks the old festival of Imbolc – one of the four cross-quarter days of the eight-fold Celtic year. The cross-quarter days happen roughly mid-way between the solstices and equinoxes. Unlike those, the cross-quarters are not set astronomical events, so their timing is a slightly fluid affair.
Imbolc is sacred to Brighde (later St. Bride), and it is still traditional in parts of Ireland to make a St. Bride’s cross from rushes at Imbolc and hang it in the house to protect it from fire – possibly a clue to the solar wheel nature of the cross. Brighde is considered the patroness of poetry, smithing, medicine, arts and crafts, cattle and other livestock, sacred wells, serpents (in Scotland) and the arrival of early spring.
The picture shows Brighde’s Well at Melbost Borve on Lewis in the Western Isles. Traditionally this is looked after by the women of the village, but nowadays it is often found in a rather neglected state. The concrete covering on the capstone bears the imprint of a horseshoe, acknowledging Brighde’s patronage of blacksmiths.
This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted. Imbolc marks the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. Just as the seeds planted last year at Samhain are beginning to sprout, so our own plans and ideas that have been developing over the winter months are beginning to show signs of growth.
I’ve been busy throughout January bringing my own plans to light, and you can find details of my courses for this year on the events page . I’m still working on squeezing in some other events into the calendar; if you want to be kept informed of these then sign up to my mailing list using the box in the right sidebar.
Of all the planned events so far, the news I’m most excited about is that Susan Collins from Canada and I have teamed up to launch an exciting new venture for both of us that is taking place in Scotland this September. We’ve both been working very hard at this over the last few weeks, and you can find out more details of what we’ve been up by heading over to the web page at internationaldowsers.org.