A woven-reed St. Brigid’s Cross
© National Museum of Ireland

Adopted and modified by early Christians as Candlemas or St. Brigid’s Day, the pagan cross-quarter holiday Imbolc falls on 1 February, celebrating the (approximate) halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. I don’t know about you, friends, but by this point in the season, I need a reminder that we’re halfway there! The wintertime blues can wear on me, and I love Imbolc for its particular blend of hopefulness and fortitude.

This Imbolc, I look forward to connecting with the traditions of my ancestors and honoring the Celtic goddess Bríg. The guardian of domesticated animals, Bríg is also a patron goddess of blacksmiths, poetry, arts and crafts, healing, and fertility—thus her ties to spring!

For those interested in an Imbolc craft, there are numerous tutorials online explaining how to weave St. Brigid’s Cross. These can be made with reeds, strips of palm or lemongrass (the latter of which I used, and it smelled lovely!), or pipe cleaners if you’re looking for something a little more permanent to make with your wee ones! Check out this video for instructions…

Lastly, in honor of Bríg, I’m happy to share a poem by beloved poet Mary Oliver, best read by candlelight on this most magical of days…

by Mary Oliver

    a black bear
      has just risen from sleep
         and is staring

down the mountain.
    All night
      in the brisk and shallow restlessness
         of early spring

I think of her,
    her four black fists
      flicking the gravel,
         her tongue

like a red fire
    touching the grass,
      the cold water.
         There is only one question:

how to love this world.
    I think of her
         like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
    the silence
      of the trees.
         Whatever else

my life is
    with its poems
      and its music
         and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
      down the mountain,
         breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
    her white teeth,
      her wordlessness,
         her perfect love.

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