Back to top

Imbolg Lore (brief)

Imbolc is the feast of the Goddess Brigid, in her aspect as nurturing Mother and protector. It has special significance in the Scottish Highlands and is celebrated in Erin as the furthest beginning of Spring. In the cycles of the land Imbolc is the end of the coldest and darkest winter days. The meat and grain stored for the winter are nearly used up, but the land has not yet begun to yield the new year's herbs and roots. So the clans would offer to the Goddess to stave off hunger and illness until the warming of the earth. In Erin the climate often permits planting in February, and the ewes come into milk as they gestate the new herds. Thus the feast is called Imbolg, which means "in the belly". The earth is pregnant with the year's good, but has not given forth.

Imbolc is a feast of home and hearth. The other three Celtic holy days were observed with tribal gatherings, while Imbolc seems to have been a private matter. It was focused on the house, hearth and land, ad on what might be called woman's ways.

The mythic elements of Imbolc center around the important Gaelic Goddess Brigid, or Bride. Recorded in Irish lore as a daughter of the Dagda, one of the Tuatha De Danann, she was the ruling Goddess of the north British Celtic tribe, the Brigantes. She is mentioned in Irish lore as a triple Goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft, but in Scots lore she is clearly an Earth Mother, who rules the bounty of the land. She passed in Christian legend as Saint Brigid. In this form she is sometimes called the midwife of Christ, revealing her nurturing nature. In the folkways of this holy day she is asked to grant fertility and growth to land, herd and clan.

Our modern Druidic holy day combines the worship of Brigid the Mother with that of the Lady of Triple Skills. The Goddess is, in home traditions, put to bed with her phallic counterpart. She appears as the Brideog (Bree-Og), a corn image that carries healing powers. In other traditions the child is put to bed, with Brigid to watch over it. She receives offerings of bannocks and beer in prayer for a spring soon to come.