Thank the gods that the Imbolc has arrived, Spring is on the way and the Goddess Brigid can comfort us and heat us in the monster storm. Imbolc is an ancient festival, Celtic in origin, and considered one of the greater Wiccan sabbats.  It is celebrated on the night of February 1st in the northern hemisphere. The primary purpose of Imbolc is to celebrate Spring's impending replacement of Winter.  In this sense, Imbolc may be seen as a spiritual alternative to the secular celebration of New Year's Eve. At New Year's Eve, we often see the image of old, bearded Father Time replaced with a young baby.  Father Time represents the old, outgoing year, and the baby celebrates the year just born.  At Imbolc, we have similar imagery; an old crone represents the outgoing year, and turns things over to a young maiden. 
Fertility, of course, plays a part here.  The frozen earth is incapable of growing things, just as the old crone has grown incapable of producing offspring.  This barrenness is replaced by the warm return of Spring, making the earth once again fertile, symbolized by the fertile young maiden.
The deity I have chosen is the Goddess and Saint Brigid. Brigid is the Celtic goddess of fire (both the forge and the hearth), poetry, healing, childbirth, and unity, is celebrated in many European countries. She is known by many names, including that of Saint Brigid who is, perhaps, the most powerful religious figure in Irish history.She was born at the exact moment of daybreak. Brigid rose into the sky with the sun, rays of fire beaming from her head. She is the daughter of Dagda, the Great Father of Ireland.
In Druid (Celtic) mythology, the infant goddess was fed with milk from a sacred cow from the Otherworld. Brigid own an apple orchard in the Otherworld and her bees would bring their magical nectar back to earth.
It is said that wherever she walked, small flowers and shamrocks would appear. As a sun goddess her gifts are light (knowledge), inspiration, and the vital and healing energy of the sun. 
One of the most popular tales of the goddess Brigid involved two lepers who appeared at her sacred well at Kildare and asked to be healed. She told them that they were to bathe each other until the skin healed. After the first one was healed, he felt only revulsion for the other and would not touch him to bathe him. Angered, Brigid caused his leprosy to return. Then she gently placed her mantle (cloak) around the other leper who was immediately healed. 
Ireland is full of springs and wells named after the goddess Brigid. Symbolically, water is seen as a portal to the Otherworld and as a source of wisdom and healing. There is a saying that Brigid rewards any offering to her, so offerings of coins were often tossed into her wells...the forerunner of the modern custom of throwing a penny into a fountain while you make a wish. 
At her most famous shrine Brigid taught humans how to gather and use herbs for their healing properties, how to care for their livestock, and how to forge iron into tools. As a goddess of childbirth and protector of all children, she is the patroness of midwifery. This shrine, near Kildare, was located near an ancient Oak that was considered to be sacred by the Druids, so sacred in fact that no one was allowed to bring a weapon there. The shrine is believed to have been an ancient college of priestesses who were committed to thirty years of service, after which they were free to leave and marry. The shrine was similar to the Vesta Virgins in Ancient Rome.Even in Her new incarnation as a Catholic saint Her previous existence is affirmed. The eternal flame at Her convent at Kildare suggests its existence as having been pagan and/or Druidic. The shrine at Kildare is assumed to be a Christian survival of an ancient college of vestal priestesses who were trained and then scattered throughout the land to tend sacred wells, groves, caves and hills. These priestesses were originally committed to thirty years in service but, after this period, were free to marry and leave. The first ten years were spent in training, ten in the practice of their duties and the final ten in teaching others, similar to the three degrees of initiation found in most traditions.
The Celtic goddess Brigid lends us her creativity and inspiration, but also reminds us to keep our traditions alive and whole. These are gifts that can sustain us through any circumstance.

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