A Time for Alchemy and Inspiration

Imbolc: A Time for Alchemy and Inspiration

Date: January 13, 2024

Author: Aspen ní Awen

Imbolc, also called Brigid's Day or Imbolg, is a Celtic festival that celebrates the first signs of spring. Historically speaking, Imbolc was seen by our ancestors in Northern Europe and the British Isles as a time that was too early for planting, but ripe for planning. With new grasses springing up through the frost, sheep birthing their lambs, lengthening days, and shortening nights, Imbolc symbolized the hope of a new year and the returning cycle of abundance. Brigid was called in for her guidance toward inspiration, creativity, healing, smithing, and crafting to ensure continued prosperity and health for all.

And so, we often look toward the light at Imbolc without pausing to reflect on the darkness that led us to where we are. Our lives, like the wheel of the year, are cyclical. Darkness gives way to light, which leads back into darkness. Shadows recede with the dawning sunlight, then grow long again at day's end.  Winter melts into Spring, which then brings the burning light of Summer (especially here in Arizona). But we all know that the long light fades. The sun sets earlier and earlier, and soon we will be in Autumn and then Winter once more. 

It benefits us, then, to celebrate the coming light without forgoing the lessons taught to us as we walked through darkness. This Imbolc, our celebration will call in not just Brigid, but also The Morrighan, who we have worked with for the past two seasons.

Holding Space for the Lessons of The Morrighan at Imbolc

There is a tale of The Morrighan, that if she comes to you in a vision, where she is in a river washing blood from cloth, you are foreseeing your death. That it is your blood she is washing into the current. 

Much like the Death card in the Tarot, this "death" does not necessarily mean your days walking the Earth are growing short. She of the Sidhe is a goddess of transformation. A shape-shifter herself, she calls on us to dwell deep into our shadows and transform through the alchemization of destructive energies. Letting go, releasing, working through anger, fear, and frustration, and pushing through the coldest, darkest places where we've dwelt to emerge once again into powerful growth. 

Sounds a lot like what seeds go through as they make their way through the frost to show the first signs of Spring, right?

Transformation and growth cannot happen without a catalyst, and that catalyst is often the shedding, letting go of, or even the utter destruction of what came before.

The Morrighan Art Print

By AranzazuFernandez  

Artist Unknown

Welcoming the Growing Light of Inspiration with Brigid

The other side of the catalyst of growth is the welcoming of new ideas, leaning into inspiration, and forging your path forward. This is the realm of Brigid. Brigid of the Well asks you to sink into yourself. To know who you are and what you need. To heal from past wounds and emerge refreshed and energized. She offers her waters freely so that you may take them out into the world and spread your inspiration through your works and deeds. Brigid is also She of the Forge. Where heat and temperance come together to sculpt your inspirations by the strength of your will and Hers combined. And She is a goddess of the in-between. The liminal space between, where inspiration, transformation, and growth are made possible. 

Where The Morrighan is the catalyst that pushes a seed through the darkness, Brigid is the beckoning light that ushers the new shoots skyward. Each is a continuance of the other in a cycle moving through the natural stages of birth, life, death, decay, and rebirth. 

Weaving Our Way from What Was to What Becomes

We all have hopes and dreams. For ourselves. For our families and friends. For our community and the world. We all have frustrations and failings. In our personal lives. In our aspirations. In the helpless feelings we get when we watch those around us and in our larger world fail one another.

Our desires, whether for self or others, require alchemization and inspiration to become actionable. Whether by destruction and release, or through forging and nurturing, we can shape our intentions into will, and our will into action.

This Imbolc, we will come together as a community in public ritual to work in liminal space with The Morrighan and Brigid, and to weave a tapestry of our hopes, our inspirations, and the ideas and actions that will restore us, feed our fires, and guide us through the growing seasons.

Want to join us? Check out what you can expect from our public rituals, and then fill out our contact form and a SteerCo member will reach out to you!