St. Brigid’s Day

Eesh, it’s been a while since I posted here. I haven’t forgotten about the blog, and in fact I’ve been writing entries in my head for a while now, but what with New Year’s Day and flat-hunting and forced overtime at work I haven’t really had the chance to sit down and write anything, mostly because after work I’ve needed to do the responsible adult stuff of laundry and tidying and things, and in my downtime all I want to do is sleep or vegetate in front of the TV.

However, I am determined not to let this blog fall by the wayside, so here is the first of two posts regarding my celebrations of Candlemas/Imbolc/St. Brigid’s Day.

Unlike Yule, I actually managed to celebrate on the day itself which I was quite proud of, even though it meant going to bed 20 minutes later than I would have liked. I changed my normal altar candles to the ones I bought for Imbolc celebrations, lit those and my deity candles, cast a circle and lit my quarter candles. I didn’t use my chalice or incense, or use the other two candles I usually light during my devotions, partly due to time constraints and partly so I didn’t get complaints about burning incense upstairs and making the house smell just before everyone went to sleep. I then took a white spell candle which I anointed, lit, and set in its holder.

As it burned I said what the candle meant to me – as Candlemas is the traditional day to bless all the candles for the year I would use it instead of a taper to light all my religious candles until next Imbolc. It represents the light returning to the world, as the days are now growing visibly longer as we move from the Solstice to the Equinox. White is the colour associated with purity, and the day is known as the Purification of the Virgin in the Christian calendar. Brigid is a goddess closely connected with fire and is partoness of the forge, represented by the candle flame. I then had a moment of reflection on the events of the day that were connected to the festival, dismantled the circle, snuffed the candles, and went to bed.

That morning I had overslept slightly. Not enough to make me late for work, but enough that I didn’t have time after I got off the Tube to get one of Caffè Nero’s gorgeous Milano hot chocolates. Now that had happened a few times since I started work on that site, and no matter whether I was early, on time, or late it was still dark whenever I reached St. Paul’s. On the morning of the 2nd, however, it wasn’t. It wasn’t daytime, but it definitely wasn’t nighttime either, so the sun had either just risen or was just about to rise – proof positive that the days are in fact getting longer. This made me smile and think ‘yep, definitely Candlemas’, and almost made up for the lack of hot chocolate.

And that was pretty much all I expected from the day – I’d seen with my own eyes the lengthening of the days, and I had a mini-celebration planned for when I got home. However, it seems Brigid had other ideas. As well as associations with fire, crafting, poetry, and healing, she is also associated with holy wells and springs.
Now for the past few days I’d been cleaning the area I was working in, which involved first getting rid of a load of modern rubble and crap, and then taking out a layer of post-mediaeval brick and mortar demolition rubble. Very routine, rather boring, not much interest and excitement. So I got rid of the demo rubble, gave the area a clean with my trowel, and found a well. On St. Brigid’s Day. That no-one expected to be there as we had no idea what the building on the old maps was used for. I was impressed!

I wasn’t allowed to dig it out as we’d reached formation level, but here it is – my Brigid’s well.

And then the next morning I got a lovely surprise as I walked out the door – snow! The first snow of this winter as well, at least where I live. There wasn’t much, only about a centimetre, but it’s still snow, and thankfully not enough to make the city grind to a halt – that takes two centimetres. Anyone reading this who either lives or comes from elsewhere, please feel free to laugh at this juncture. London (as an entity) has what might be described as a phobia about snow.

Snowy street
My view as I walked out the door on the 3rd. Although you can’t tell from the photo, the snow was still falling.

So far it’s been the only snow, but I’m happy it fell about as close to Imbolc as it could get, as according to Dad it started at about 1am. Snow is often used in Imbolc celebrations if it’s available, ice candle-holders can be made if there’s no snow, and salt can be used as well to represent snow. If it wasn’t for the fact that I needed to get to work I’d have tried to find a spare jar or bottle to collect some in, so instead I made do with eating some of it and trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue as I walked down the street. There are just some things you have to do when it snows.

Snowy hedge
The hedge in front of my house, and snow!

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