Sunday, January 5, 2014

About Bride - February 2

BRIDE
(February 1-2)

Bride (pronounced "breed") is also called Imbolg, Imbolc, 
Lady Day, Oimelc, St. Brigid, or Brigit. 
Some folks call this festival "Candlemas." 
The Day of Bride (February 1) is the old Celtic Festival of Spring.

 St. Bride, to whom the day was dedicated by the Church, 
was the successor of a Celtic goddess of the same name.

In an agriculturally based society, 
Candlemas was calving-time, 
and the Day of Bride was in one aspect a milking festival.



Although this holiday falls at the very beginning of February, 
when all around those in harsher climates the snow and ice lie thick, 
yet it is a most enjoyable and joyful day! 
For each and every day, we see the Sun staying with us a little longer.
 As the nights become shorter, we see the very first signs of spring. 


In our ancestral homelands, the ewes will be " a-lambing. " 
The milk will first come in for all brand new mothers.

The first greenery will begin to break above the icy ground. 
February is the melting month. 
No matter how severe the winter,
at the end of February,
 much of the ice and snow have melted.



The information in this piece has been collected from many sources. 
Please keep in mind that, while there are many variations
 of the theme regarding the seasons' changing, 
none that I've read actually contradict the others. 
Rather, they intertwine, one with another, 
to form a beautiful woven tapestry of pagan and Christian beliefs.

At Bride, 
one tradition says the virgin goddess becomes sister 
to the still-young God of the Waxing Year. 
By this is meant the Maiden behaves in a sisterly fashion to the New God. 
Once he has reached 12 years of age (at Twelfth Night), 
she ceases to be his mother and becomes his sister. 

At Bride,
 the folk  kindle the Bonfire in symbolic welcome 
of the return of the "sun Child" 
who is the God of the Waxing Year. 


He is also known as "Lord of the Greenwoods” 
or as TEUTATES and he is a magnificent Stag-homed God.



Brigit is the Goddess of fertility, childbirth, and healing,
 poetry and smith craft. In Ireland, 
she was called Bride ("breed")  
by some and was later dubbed St. Brigid by the Catholic Church.



In the Highlands of Scotland, 
the revival of vegetation in spring 
used to be graphically represented on St. Bride's Day, the first of February. 
The mistress and female servants of each family would take a sheaf of oats 
and dress it up in women's apparel, 
put it in a large basket, 
and lay a slender white wand next to it. 
This they called "Bride's bed." 

Wonderful Bride's Bed by The Mad Plaquer on Etsy

They would call three times,
 "Bride is come, Bride is welcome!" 
"Bride is come, Bride is welcome!
"Bride is come, Bride is welcome!"

Doing this just before retiring to bed, 
they would rise in the morning, 
looking among the ashes of their fire, 
expecting to see an impression of Bride's club there. 
If they did, 
they reckoned a true omen of a good crop 
and prosperous year! 

In the Isle of Man, 
a festival was formerly kept called Laa'l Breeshey.
 The custom was to gather a bundle of green rushes, 
and standing with them in the hand on the threshold of the door, 
to invite Bride to come and lodge with them that night. 
After the invitation was spoken, 
the rushes were strewn on the floor as a bed for Bride.  
In some parishes, rush-bearing and strewing is still done.



A custom very similar to this was also observed in some of the Out-Isles 
on the ancient Kingdom of Man. 
In these Manx and highland ceremonies it is obvious that St. Bride, 
or St. Brigit, 
is an old heathen goddess of fertility, 
disguised in a threadbare Christian cloak. More likely, 
she is none other than Brigit, 
the Celtic goddess of fire and crops.

There is much interaction between the Cailleach (Crone) 
and Bride during this transition time of the year. 

Some legends show the Cailleach and Bride 
as one and the same -- different aspects of the same goddess. 

At any rate, the Cailleach gives reign to Bride during this festival, 
whether by becoming young again 
or by passing the scepter after the storms of spring.



At Bride's Day,
 many believed the hibernating serpent was supposed to emerge
 from its hollow among the hills, 
and a hymn was sung to it, welcoming it.  
Groundhog's Day seems to be what is left of this version of Bride.


The Rowan tree (mountain ash) is sacred to Bride. 


Bride is also associated with certain holy wells. 
Here is the triple aspected Goddess mystery in a nutshell, 
for Rowan is traditionally associated with the Virgin Goddess or Maiden
 (who, incidentally, is strongest at Bride), 
while wells are associated with the Crone Goddess of Wisdom. 

Bride (Brigantia) is a name for the Mother Goddess as well as the Crone. 
So in this one holiday, 
we have strains of the Maiden, Mother, 
and Crone aspects of the Goddess.

This day marks the first stirrings of life in the earth. 
The Yule or Cuidle season originally ended at Bride. 
But with increasing organization and industrialization, 
increasing demands for labor and production, that holiday kept shrinking, 
first to the two weeks ending at Twelfth Night, 
then to a single week ending at New Year's Day, 
then to a single day.

Twelfth Night marks the night that the Sun Child becomes a man. 
Each night represents one year of growth --
at twelve, a child received his weapons of manhood 
and went through a Rite of Passage to leave childhood.

Bride begins a season of purification similar to that preceding Yule.
 It ends at Spring Equinox (Earrach). 

In many cultures, no marriages, initiations, or puberty rites 
are celebrated between Bride and Earrach (Spring Equinox).

The candles and torches worn and carried at Bride 
signify the divine life-force awakening dormant life to new growth.
 Often a young woman will wear a crown of lights 
to signify the light and heat brought to the world by the new Sun.  
This is often celebrated as Santa Lucia's Day. 



Themes

Growth of roots begins again. 
Bare branches begin to swell with leaf buds, 
and growth appears at the tips of evergreen branches. 
Watch for these changes. 
Be aware of what is going on around you! 
Tools of agriculture are also being made/purchased to be ready for spring.

Christians celebrate feasts of St. Brigid. 
The Roman feast of Bacchus and Ceres is celebrated. 


The Lupercalia is also celebrated soon -- a feast of Pan (FERTILITY!!).

Purpose of the Rites
To awaken life in the earth.
 Fire rites to strengthen the young Sun, 
to bring the fertilizing, purifying, protective, 
and vitalizing influence of fire to the fields, orchards, 
domestic animals, and people. 
To drive away winter. 
To bless candles for household use throughout the year.

Folk Customs
The three functions of Bride - end of Yule,
 feast of candles or torches, 
and beginning of a purificatory season
 are divided by the Christian calendar 
among Twelfth-Night, Candlemas, 
and Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Carnival). 


The customs of all three feasts are derived from Imbolc or Bride, 
with at most, a thin Christian gloss.



There are parades of giant figures in rural towns in Europe 
and at Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations. 
A figure representing the Spirit of Winter or Death,
 sometimes made of straw, sometimes resembling a man,
 is drowned, burnt, 
or in one case stuffed with fireworks and exploded!

Symbolic Decorations
Snowdrops are picked for vases. 
A corn or oat-dolly, the "biddy" is dressed in women's clothes 
and set outside the door to welcome Bride. 
Candles are placed and lit everywhere feasible 
to strengthen the Waxing Sun Child.

A figure representing Winter might be burned in the fire. 
Couples may leap the bonfire, or parents with children in arms.



Boy's puberty rites may be celebrated for the last time until Earrach. 
These usually include mock plowing by the boys.


This is the time of year to rejoice in the strength of the returning Sun!

As each day's light grows stronger, 
let your inner light also grow strong. 

Feel the changes in the earth around you! 

See the changes take place as the earth (Maiden) is gently awakened. 

Remember and relive your own awakening from Maidenhood to Womanhood, 
or Boyhood to Manhood. 

Remember and relive the changes in your body and mind. 

Heal yourself.

 Breathe deeply and enjoy being ALIVE!
Be thankful for the one
who warms our earth,
our bones, 
and our bodies…

the SUN!