Happy Imbolc! Happy Imbolg! Happy Feast of Brigid! Happy Oimelc! Happy Festival of Milk! Happy Wives’ Feast Day! Happy Laa’l Breeshey! Happy St. Brigid’s Day! Happy Candlemas Eve! Happy Groundhog’s Day Eve!
Did I miss anybody? ^_^ I know I did, but I have limited time and did my best. Today/tomorrow is a holiday celebrated by many cultures, even if some don’t celebrate as elaborately as maybe they once did. But Imbolc, as I prefer to call it, is a celebration of the Celtic Pagan Goddess Brigit, also known as the Christian Saint Brigid who seems to have immigrated to Ireland with the Gaelic Celts from Galatia. To the pagans she is a fire and fertility goddess, to the Catholics she’s a holy virgin, on all counts she’s a healer, a warrior, and a milkmaid who commands miracles. Legend or myth has it that she owned the Arthurian Avalon, that she forged Excalibur, and was the Lady of the Lake who gave the sword to Arthur and the healer who took him away to Avalon as he was dying. She was a warrior who taught martial arts, but was also a mediator. She was a poet, a sage, and a smith. As a goddess she ruled healing and childbirth.
As a saint she was the daughter of a slave and a chieftain whose wife demanded her pregnant mother be sold. She spent her childhood milking cows and churning butter and gave most of it away. The master who owned her and her mother scolded her and she prayed to heaven and the churn overflowed with butter. According to legend her master, a wizard or druid, found Christ through this miracle and freed both her and her mother. When she came of age she was uninterested in marriage, preferring a religious life. When her family became insistent she choose one of her many suitors she chose to remove her own eye so as to no longer be desirable. Her family gave in to her desire to stay unmarried and she replaced her eye which miraculously healed. She went on to become the first nun in Ireland. She created a nunnery and monastery, starting a small community in a cell under an oak tree that was particularly sacred to the druids. After living a grand and exalted life in the ministry she passed away on February 1st.
One Christian legend holds that she was the midwife who assisted at Jesus’s birth. Another that she saved Jesus and Mary from King Herod. Yet another that she was Jesus’s foster mother. Saint Brigid the person was born 400 years after Jesus was, so these things are all probably quite unlikely, but they show the way that people interweave religions and how her role as fertility goddess and ruler of childbirth gave her spiritual presence at the event if not physical.
As so many gods and goddesses who had counterparts in religions that became more prominent, it is likely unverifiable if Saint Brigid ever lived or if she is a myth created to make the newer religion more palatable to the practitioners of older traditions. It’s entirely possible that a child who became a nun was named for the original goddess and that is where their stories become confused. But whether factual people or entities or merely legend, Brigit was a goddess of the sun and of rushing rivers, and the fire that keeps women burning throughout the long cold winters. That is why she is celebrated today.
The pagan holidays are based on the wheel of the year, which revolves entirely around the seasons. Imbolc (or whichever name you choose to go with) is one of the sabbats of the year where we celebrate nature and the elements, the turning of the wheel and the journey of the sun. Imbolc is the midway point between Winter and Spring and we have many rituals and traditions to honor it as it is, to encourage the sun to make a speedy return, and to celebrate our ability to survive the winter season when things don’t grow. Imbolc is commonly held to refer to the old Irish term that meant “In the belly”, and therefore refer to the seasonal pregnancy of ewes, but may also have derived for the old Irish term to wash or cleanse oneself. Milk and cleansing had the same root and meaning.
So. Our project for today, is to have a little celebration honoring the approach of spring, and the survival of winter, and we’re going to do that with a simple soup recipe if you read the previous entry and knew what to buy or can manage a trip to the store. My whole day has been off and I didn’t get to write as easy as anticipated, but the recipe, for those of you starving folks on the east coast, is from the book Candlemas: Feast of Flames by Amber K & Azrael Arynn K. It’s a good book with a lot of information, awesome crafts, and fantastic recipes, so I highly recommend it’s purchase, I’ve had it for years, and I can promise there are recipes in it that involve such things as rabbit or fish that you’ll never see out of me, and there is a lot of worthwhile knowledge in it as well. But this recipe is called “All That’s Left Is Potatoes and Leeks” Soup, because we are celebrating that survival of winter, and towards the end of winter there was not always much in the cellar or pantry, but our old wives always made it work. Being the festival of milk the recipe does also include cream.
To make this soup you’ll want to melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot, then add and warm 2 cups of potato slices (1/4″ Thick) and brown them. Stirring constantly, add 3 cups of beef, chicken, or vegetable stock, salt and pepper to taste, and 6 sliced leeks.
(I do not use six leeks. I don’t have six people to feed and for me it would be overkill. I’m good with two.)
Simmer for 15 minutes, reduce heat, and add 1/2 cup warmed heavy cream.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Yields 6 servings, and I personally think it goes well with some nice rolls or bread and butter, but that’s your call. The point of it all is to be thankful for what we have, be thankful that spring is coming, that we have the means to survive the winter, and as an Irish holiday to thank Columbus for bringing potatoes to Europe and that’s there’s no famine this year 😉
Today’s List of Tasks:
- Write In Your Journal (as you should be every night)
- Clean Your Guest Bathroom
- Do Some Cardio
- Listen to a subliminal audio and/or guided meditation to improve you complexion.
That is it for today folks! It’s supposed to get cold and rainy and snowy here tonight in Colorado so I’ll be celebrating our feast of flames curled up with my kitties and my soup and the fireplace going, and I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday too! Let us see your soups or let us know how your celebrating in the comments, and if all of this holiday, goddess, and/or saint stuff is new to you, or even vague to you, feel free to do some research and let us know what else you learn. There’s plenty to find 🙂
And yes, our month of commitment to sobriety has ended, so if you’re not fighting the battle to quit alcohol, and need a little something to make your holiday cheery, it’s allowed as of today. Just remember that because you can doesn’t mean you should, or that you have to, and if you’re fighting that sobriety fight and need an ear or a shoulder, we’re here.
Otherwise, I will see you all later on Facebook with the Question of the Day 🙂
A word about music: We include songs for a reason. Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much. Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason. If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
Album: Circle of the Seasons