Monday, February 1, 2016

IMBOLC/CANDLEMAS




    February 2nd  marks the celebration of Candlemas or Imbolc; depending upon which spiritual path you follow. Candlemas is a very old holiday with a Christian-Pagan history. Its Christian version is called the Purification of the Virgin and is the end/culmination of the forty day period after Mary gave birth to Jesus on December 25. Back in those days women had to wait forty days after childbirth before entering a church or Temple again due to "uncleanliness". This waiting period is still observed in Eastern Orthodox Christian churches today, and all Christian churches schedule the Christening of a baby forty days after birth in keeping with this ancient purification practice. Therefore today is Jesus' Christening or Naming Day when an exorcism is performed and the baby formally enters the Church. Candlemas is a church adaptation of a pagan goddess holiday called Imbolc where people light candles to welcome the light of the sun as the days grow longer. Candlemas is celebrated on the same day as that pagan holiday, February 2nd. The word Imbolc, variously spelled Imbolg, Oimelc and Imelg, means "ewe-milk" because this is the time lambs were born in old England, Ireland and most of Europe thus bringing back the flow of ewe's milk.

     The pagan holiday Imbolc marks the beginning of Spring, despite the fact that there may still be snow in some places and dreary skies almost everywhere! If you look closely, you will see that the snow is just a blanket covering the beauty of Mother Earth which is about to shine through again. Imbolc is closely associated with the Celtic-Irish goddess Brigid. Imbolc is sacred to Brigid because she is a goddess of fire, of poetry, and of healing, and all things that go along with the creative powers of the onset of spring. She is a powerful representation of the Maiden Goddess, and she has been almost perfectly preserved for us today by none other than the Roman Catholic Church. Rather than categorize her as a demon, (as unfortunately many of the other Pagan deities were at the time,) and risk the displeasure of all Ireland; the Church canonized Brigid and made her the patron saint of poetry and healing. This appeased the Irish, who at the time probably saw the Catholic saints as being very similar to gods. 

     Another tradition for Imbolc is to put a candle in your window representing the Eternal Flame of the Maiden Goddess. So no matter what tradition you follow, light a candle tomorrow and welcome the light of Spring, welcome the light of Spirit into your life and prepare for brighter days ahead!

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