The bringer of light

In the depths of winter, between the Winter Solstice and Ostara, we celebrate Imbolc. While different sources suggest different meanings of the actual word “Imbolc” – from “in the belly” to “milking” to “thorough cleaning” – it is agreed that ancient Celtic cultures used to honour Brigid, the Goddess of healing, fire and poetry.

Christianity celebrates St. Brigid on Candlemas. Brigid, with her red fiery hair, is believed to be the bringer of light after the long darkness of winter.

Every day now, the sun rises a bit earlier and sets a bit later. Nature is waking up, barely noticeable to the human eye yet, but the seeds are starting to stir.

Seeds and visions

Hans Christian Andersen’s beautiful fairytale “The Snowdrop” tells the story of a little seed waking up in the ground, desperately waiting for summer to arrive. The sun is still too weak to warm up the earth, and ice has its cold grip on nature. But the little seed cannot bear to wait any longer. She has been dreaming of her summer dream for so long. She has visualised it so vividly and needs it so badly that she gathers all her strength, puts her roots deep into the earth and shoots up through the cold and into the sunlight. When she rises, she is greeted and given strength by sunbeams from clear skies. The little Snowdrop flower bends her head in humility and joy –her vision has come to life!

Just like this delicate, yet courageous little flower, we are now asked to stir the seeds we have created during the stillness of winter. It is now time to ground ourselves, find our roots and prepare to bring our dreams and visions into the light. We need to prepare well, though – unlike the Snowdrop, we want to grow slower and enjoy the blossoms of our work longer.

Cleanse, ground and celebrate

Imbolc is all about cleansing, grounding and celebrating the light in preparation for spring. Take some time to reflect on what you want to bring into the light. Try to find the first sunbeam in the form of inspiration to warm your heart. This could be a good book, a new song or an inspiring talk with a friend.

Cleanse your mind, be it through actually cleaning your house or clearing your head through meditation.

Ground yourself by taking a walk in nature or relaxing in your cosy space. Do anything that makes you feel good, nourished and safe.

Invite Brigid’s energy in by lighting candles or even a bonfire if you can.

It is still winter and there is still a lot of darkness. We might even feel stuck in it. But we know that the light is getting stronger, little by little, every day. And so are we, if we trust in our own light!

“But the Flower had more strength than she herself knew of. She was strong in joy and in faith in the summer, which would be sure to come, which had been announced by her deep longing and confirmed by the warm sunlight; and so she remained standing in confidence in the snow in her white garment, bending her head even while the snow-flakes fell thick and heavy, and the icy winds swept over her.” (Hans Christian Andersen)

Kerstin Wolff

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