Traditionally what we modern Westerners know as Groundhog Day was and is, on Feb 1st or 2nd is celebrated in the Modern Irish Calendar as Saint Brigid’s Day,or Bride’s Day. Both a Catholic and an ancient Pagan Celebration,an ancient Goddess tradition, also called Imbolc, still celebrated by Wiccans/Pagan based Earth honouring religions. Christians overlaid the Ancient Goddess worshipers’ holiday renaming it Candlemas or the fest of the Purification of the Virgin. This celebration also relates to the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
It is a “cross-quarter” day in the 8 rounds of the Wheel of Time in the Solar based year. Since the Celtic Year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, it is most likely the holiday would be celebrated on the Full Moon nearest those 2 midpoints, when early spring flowers would begin to rise up through the snow, and snakes would come out of the ground. This is the precursor of the Groundhog, which the Romans replaced with a Hedgehog, which we… On Feb. 2nd this year there is a NEW MOON IN AQUARIUS at 12:45 am EST.
That Ancient peoples of Ireland kept this day as very sacred. At the Megalithic and Neolithic sites, such as the Loughcrew burial mounds and the Mound of the Hostages in Tara, Ireland, the inner chambers of the passage tombs are perfectly aligned with the rising sun of both Imbolc and Samhain attesting to the value placed on this day.
Triple Goddess/Saint Brigid/Bride
She is according to Robert Graves, the most Ancient Triple Goddess worshipped since time out of mind. The Goddess rules over scholars and poets. She is the Goddess of fire and inspirations in Ireland, the Goddess of poetry, creativity, smithcraft and healing. She also rules healing with water, and divination. She is said to rule over people who work with cows and chickens, brewers, fugitives, midwives, infants, printers, sailors, travelers, New Zealand, & Irish nuns. This day symbolizes a time of transitions, initiations, new beginnings, of planting seeds that will sprout later. Brigid/Birgita represents the light half of the year,Her power brings the people out of the dark season of winter into spring, so, it is a very important time of the year.
She is the Goddess of Augury
In the Druidic tradition, poetry and augury were associated. She is patron of prophets and seers.
Celtic seers divined by looking into deep water and into flames. This is a great time to do divination. STare at a candle, a fireplace with conscious intention. Call upon Brigid to come to you.
She has two sisters with the same name. One aspect of her carries a blacksmith tongs and a sword, because she is also patroness of war; another aspect holds 2 healing snakes, from which the modern Doctor’s symbol is derived, the caduceus, the third aspect carries a wand with a crescent moon and a tablet.
Brigid rules the Waters. Many healing springs are dedicated to Brigid. Natural bodies of water also signify Her presence, particularly where three streams joined together. She also rules Fire, so it is customary to make candles for the coming year and bless them on this day.
In her aspect as Brigantia, she carries a spear, an orb of victory, and wears a war crown. She symbolizes protection of the country from invaders and slavery.
As Patroness of Midwives, she was invoked at the door of the home where the woman was giving birth, by the midwife. Who speke:
Bride, Bride, come in! Thy welcome is truly made, Give thou relief to the woman, And give thou the conception to the Trinity.
Brigid is the guardian of every newborn, their cradles protected with a woven Brigit’s Cross, an equal armed cross. Upon a safe delivery, the infant was blessed or “sained” by the midwife, with 3 drops of water on the child’s forehead, dedicating the Child to the Triple Goddess. The “Holy Trinity” in its modernized Christian aspect, was just an overlay of the Goddess Triple Aspect since time out of memory. A candle was carried ‘round the bed sun wise three times. As Brigid is a Solar Goddess. We think of the Sun as masculine but originally all aspects of the Universe were considered Feminine.
Brigid Ruler of the Hearth
Especially in Gaelic Scotland, Brigid’s dolls are placed near the hearth on her Feast Day. The doll is usually dressed in white, decorated. A white wand is placed in her bed as a fertility charm. As she is patroness of agriculture, pastures, livestock, and abundance. An offering is made to her of dairy products. The Brigid doll is kept throughout the year near the hearth hung on a wall, or by a door, as a talisman of protection, then burnt the next year.
Light a Candle and Invoke the Goddess at this time-
I kindle this candle in the name of Brighid, Goddess of Smiths,
I sain this house in the name of Brighid, Goddess of Healers,
I smoor this candle in the name of Brighid, Goddess of Poets.
One folk tradition still continues in both Christian and Pagan homes on St. Brigid’s Day is that of St. Brigid’s Bed. Girls and young unmarried women create corn dollies to represent Brigid, these are adorned with ribbons, baubles shells or stones. A bed is made for the doll to lie in. On St. Brigid’s Eve Jan 31, the girls gather together in one house and stay up all night with the doll, are are later visited by all the young men, who ask permission to enter the home, and then treat the young maidens and the dolly with respect. The next day the girls carry the doll through the neighbourhood from house to house, where she is welcomed with great honour. Adult women stay home to welcome the Brigid procession and offer snacks and coins to the young girls and maidens.
Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve. Feb 1st. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of fabric outside for Brigid to bless. The cloth are brought inside the next morning, believed to now have the powers of healing and protection.
BRIGID is alive and well.
The name “Britain” is a derivation of Brigit’s name. Britain was named for an ancient Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, who were the largest Celtic tribe in the country in pre-Roman times who worshipped Her as their Deity. The tribe originated from an area now called Bregenz in Austria near Lake Constance. The word “brigand” comes from this tribe of fierce warriors. Her symbol is a flaming spear. Her worship spread, leaving behind places named in Her honour-Brittany in France, Brechin in Scotland, the name Brent, in England, any name containing Bride. Britain’s symbol, the Goddess Brigantia, still found on their 50 cent coin is Brigid in her aspect as Goddess of the Land. In Old German/Yiddish the word “Fabrent” meaning burnt honours this Ancient Goddess. Of course Britany Spears is carrying the modern archetype of Brigid, and strangely enough one of Brigid’s symbols is a flaming spear!
A Sample of prayers used at St. Bridgid’s Day
Light 1 candle-
We gather together in this time of darkness. We look to the return of the light.
We look to the first light of Spring.
(Light two more candles.)
Goddess Midwife: Healer, Nurturer, and Herbalist.
Goddess Poetess: Bringer of Wisdom, Guidance and Prophesy.
Goddess Smithcraft: Keeper of Fire, Craftswomen, and Transformation.
Maiden, Mother, and Crone – A Triple Goddess.
Her symbols are Brigid’s cross, the flaming arrow, Brigid’s bed.
It was customary to write wishes upon scraps of cloth
and tie them to the bushes near her sacred wells.
This is Her Time of Year, a very special moment.
Her day is the Second of February,
A day upon which to seek wisdom from inside the Earth.
In the time before Patrick, serpents were sent
because they dwell in both worlds, above ground and below.
In Christian Times, the serpent became a Groundhog.
Our lady is a goddess of many aspects: Crone, Matron,
but she is pictured most often as the maiden.
Chant: Welcome Brigid, Welcome Brigid (the burning arrow of the power – Bridgette)
(Candles are lit. Maiden Goddess appears.)
Brigid: Blessings of the season upon you, my People.
I am She, that is the natural mother of all things,
Mistress and governess of all the elements,
The initial progeny of worlds,
Chief of the powers divine,
Queen of all that are in the other world,
the principal of them that dwell above,
Manifested alone and under one form
Of all the Gods and Goddesses.