Blessed Woman of the hills,
Heal all wounds, heal all ills.
Blessed Woman of the flame,
Awaken me to renew again.
~ Song to Brighid, from the Alexander Carmichael Carmina Gadelica
as arranged by Lisa Thiel
Rejoice, my dear ones! This is the holy day of Imbolc, as we celebrate the last push of Winter before it melts into the first hints of Spring.
This is the moment of the transformation of the Crone into the Maiden, and we give honor to our beloved Goddess, Brighid. So what better card could possibly come to us, than the Queen of Flames herself?
Today is the ancient celebration of Brigid, Imbolc, or Candlemas, as some may call it.
It is the cross-quarter sabbat that marks the halfway point between Solstice and Equinox and falls around Feb. 1 and 2, depending on your tradition.
By whichever name you like, this is the time when we of the Old Ways dedicate to a new practice, renew our spiritual devotions, and bless the seeds of our intentions for the coming year. What a divine gift that this week we have received the guidance of the Queen of Wands to do so.
And it’s no coincidence, either, that this is the week of the Full Moon in the fire sign of Leo.
It is no coincidence, either, that she last appeared as our Card of the Week exactly six weeks ago, at the previous turn of the Wheel of the Year. Yes, the Queen of Wands was our guide for the week of the Winter Solstice, also.
Court cards can sometimes be symbolic of a kind of energy, but usually they represent a specific person – either someone else, or an aspect of ourselves. In this case, I am certain that this week’s card sings with all the fire and majesty of beloved Bride, Herself.
Because the timing of this card today feels so fraught as a message of power, I invite you to visit this link to read about the Queen of Wands’ more conventional Tarot interpretations. These characteristics are apt, especially for particular questions and influences in your life this week.
But I feel like this is a direct imperative for me, having skipped doing so yesterday on Her official feast day, to offer my annual overview of this much loved Celtic Goddess and Christian saint.
So, if you’ve come looking for a straight Tarot interpretation this week, check back here. Instead, it is clear to me that, like the Queen of Wands who so resonates with Her gifts, Brighid’s importance must be exalted and shared. I am humbled and glad to obey.
Blessings of Imbolc
Hail to the Queen of Poetry, Healing, and Art
Fire in the forge that
shapes and tempers.
Fire of the hearth that
nourishes and heals.
Fire in the head that
incites and inspires.
~ The Ord Brighideach (Three-Fold Fire of Brighid)
Now the light has grown longer and stronger since Solstice, and we feel the stirrings of life’s renewal in the land. We harmonize with this energy by choosing new ways to nurture our spiritual growth and service.
This is the sacred time of Imbolc, which is intertwined with the feast day of St. Brigid who is also Brigid, a beloved Goddess of the Old Religion.
Even after the Roman Catholics banned all Pagan ways, She was so firmly and permanently adored, She was absorbed into Christianity as a saint, possibly with the help of Her namesake priestess who converted to the new religion.
But the Wheel has turned and we can once more, without fear of persecution or death, directly give honor to our Sun Goddess Bride (pronounced “breed” or “breej ”), Brigit, or Brighid.
She is the Celtic Fire Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Art. You can see Her embodied in the bright stars of the constellation we call Orion.
Brigid presides over all kinds of transformation: birth and brewing; metal-smithing and poetry; and perhaps the most miraculous of all transformations — the passage from Winter to Spring.
Her name may be derived from the Gaelic “breo aigit” meaning “fiery arrow.” Her name is noticeably similar to the Sanskrit derivation “Brahti” which means “exalted one.”
She is the Goddess in Her Maiden form, youthful bringer of light, transformed from the Crone of Winter. Brigid is the untamed, independent Feminine Divine, and is sovereign to Herself. It is no accident that my grandmothers used to call sassy, saucy girls “briggity.”
Brigid’s Flame in Kildare
For millennia at Her temple at Kildare (or Cill Dara, which means Church of the Oak), Her priestesses, and later, the nuns of Her order, tended an eternal flame in Her honor.
Although it was extinguished during the Burning Times (the Inquisition), in 1993, Sister Mary Minehan boldly re-lit St. Brigid’s flame in Kildare.
It was lit again in 1997, in the town square by Ragny Skaisten, a member of the Norwegian Brigidine Sisters, at the opening of Her feast day, Feile Bhride.
After that, ignoring the displeasure of Popes John Paul and Benedict, the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare continued to light the flame for Brigid’s Feast Day.
Then, on Feb. 1, 2006, with much ceremony, and lit by the President of Ireland, Her eternal flame was permanently restored.
In traditions that have remained unbroken, Her celebrations have continued throughout Ireland, and wherever Her Irish sons and daughters have migrated.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the seemingly more enlightened Pope Francis weighs in on these matters.
Fire That Heals, Shapes, and Inspires
Whether we prefer to think of Brighid as an actual sainted person, or a Goddess who was assimilated by the Roman Catholic Church, regardless of our spiritual path and culture, She opens the way for all.
She inspires us to become more than we have ever been – encouraging and tending our creative, life-affirming potential. Brighid’s fire and forge strengthen us to become the best and brightest we can be.
Being in Her service is one reason I call myself a Priestess of Illumination, for I am dedicated to tending and sharing Her flames of creativity, rebirth, and healing transformation.
Brighid is the Beloved that oversees the quickening of life and energizes the path from our dark Winter to the promise of Spring.
She enlightens us to see and know our ancient, wise souls. Hers is the purifying fire that heals our wounds, forges new strength, and awakens poetry, skill, and art — and therefore, depth, beauty, and meaning — into our lives.
Brigid of the Mantles encompass us
Lady of the Lambs protect us
Keeper of the Hearth kindle us
Beneath your mantle gather us
And Restore us to memory.
~ traditional Gaelic Blessing
May Brigid the Shining One bless you at this time of hope and power. May the Queen of Wands be a sigl for you to see and know Her.
And may we, with our lives, ensure that Her holy fire burns forever more. May this Imbolc herald the early beginning of a great awakening and blossoming in each of us, in the most splendid, divinely blessed ways.
So let us journey to the end,
With hands now open to foe and friend.
To light the darkness and seek for hope,
To fight for justice as prophets spoke,
And in creation your wisdom know,
Your sign and symbol,
The Acorn and the Oak.
~ In honor of St Brigid, composed by Rev. Liam Lawton for the
Brigidine Bicentenary Mass, 1st February, 2007