Monthly Columns

Lambs in the Belly – An Excerpt from A Modern Celt by Mabh Savage

(Image via Unsplash)

Brigid, who is also known as Persephone

Rises like an epiphany

From the womb of Winter’s death.

One of the year’s turning points is Imbolc, celebrated at the start of February; roughly half way between winter solstice and spring equinox (in the Northern hemisphere anyway- in the southern hemisphere this would be around the start of August, around the time we are celebrating Lughnasadh). This is the time of year when you really start to notice that yes, the days are getting longer and lighter, and the air is beginning to warm.

Imbolc is a celebration of the coming spring, making it through the harshest part of winter, and a time to honour Brigid, a goddess who, like the Morrigan, is often revered in triple form, and has many aspects. She is a patron to bards, and indeed I have found my own music more forthcoming after working with her at Imbolc, and have even written a song solely dedicated to her and the coming spring.

She is a goddess of fertility and birth; hardly surprising as she is associated so closely with the return of spring, and the lambing season’s start. She is the goddess of smithing and other crafts, and strongly linked with fire; it is no wonder at this cold, forbidding time of the year, when there is barely a warm breath to whisper of the spring to come, that such a person, such a goddess would be drawn close to people’s hearts. To cook, to craft, to make love and to keep fires burning- such human things are what bring hope and help us survive when the elements are against us.

Today, many of us in the western world take warmth and shelter for granted, and have little to worry about in the way of food shortages. So, what makes people like me turn to Brigid at Imbolc? The simple answer is this: the hunger and cold becomes a metaphor. Of course we don’t want to be hungry, and we always make the wish that we never literally hunger, and that we may honour the earth so that she may not hunger- through protection of resources and responsibility. However, we also look to our spiritual selves to make sure that side of us is not being starved, and by this I don’t mean simply on a theological or “other-worldly” plane, but simply how we behave in day to day life. Are we working so hard we run ourselves into the ground? Are we forgetting to take time out for our families? Have we lost touch with the things that make us who we are? Or are we happy, content in our life, working towards goals that are true, fit to ourselves and our purpose? Do we even know what that purpose is? Most people don’t I guess, I’m pretty sure I change my mind every year!

This is a chance to celebrate if we have achieved over the winter what we set out to; that may be as simple as weathering the winter with family, safe and warm, or perhaps a project or goal that we have been working towards. Sometimes it will be to remember oaths or goals that were set in place at previous festivals, often the previous Imbolc.

Brigid is a point of focus to let us really look at the warm, caring and creative sides of ourselves, and remember that this doesn’t just mean eating, having families and staying warm, but being a whole person, being kind, compassionate, and protecting ourselves when necessary; being strong, but not too hard: the strongest trees bend in the storm, they don’t break, so we celebrate that we can weather what life throws at us and come back stronger, just like the sun returning after the long winter sleep.

(This is an excerpt from the book A Modern Celt by Mabh Savage, published by Moon Books)

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors & Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.