Imbolc on the Labyrinth
In some traditions, Brigid was a pagan goddess of healing and poetry. In others, Brigid was a beloved Irish saint.
The myriad stories and identities of Brigid have many layers of history and mystery. To celebrate her symbolism and place in history and religion, a Boulder spiritual group is inviting the public to the festival of Imbolc, a Celtic springtime celebration.
The Imbolc celebration is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St.
Edie Stone, who has been organizing Celtic festivals in Boulder since the early '90s, said Brigid has intriguing, inspiring and mysterious origins.
"I love the inspiration and transformational quality of the sacred feminine energy, which is embodied in the image of Brigid," Stone said. "There's a striking, transformative energy that bridges both Christian and Pagan traditions."
Brigid symbolizes "water and fire, poetry, healing, peacekeeping. You can't ask for a better goddess," Stone added.
Boulder's Imbolc celebration will feature stories, music and poetry inspired by Brigid, and participants will pass around candles that symbolize the fire that continuously burns in Kildare, Ireland, where St. Brigid established an abbey around the year 470. In the Pagan tradition, Brigid's flame symbolizes spring's warmth.
Candles used during the Boulder Imbolc event have been lit from the original Kildare flame, she said.
The sacred fire is a big part of Brigid's identity, Stone said.
In the years before air-travel rules restricted bringing certain items onto airplanes, some followers of Brigid carried actual embers from the Kildare flame back from Ireland to the United States and other countries, she said.
Nowadays, followers light a candle from the Kildare flame, then extinguish it and light other candles with the same candle.
"The light of this goddess and saint is still spread around the world," Stone said. "When (participants) light their candle with that fire, that energy, that consciousness, the light can be passed on."
Lola Wilcox, who has participated in Imbolc for several years, said she became interested in Brigid while studying medieval literature in college.
She visited the original flame of Kildare two years ago and now is known as a "fire keeper" who prayerfully lights a candle in her own home every 20 days.
Wilcox's husband, Chuck, said he connects with Brigid because of her multiple representations and patronages, including poetry and craftwork.
"When I feel inspired, I think of Brigid," he said.
Because Brigid is known as both a pagan goddess and a Catholic saint, her stories overlap and merge so much that it's sometimes difficult to tell where each myth, legend and story originates, Stone said.
Stone became interested in Celtic rituals as a graduate student at Naropa University in the early '90s. After meeting other like-minded students, she and others got together and organized celebrations for each of the four major Celtic celebrations.
Stone said the First United Methodist Church is a good place to stage the event because of the church's large indoor labyrinth. Another part of the Imbolc ceremony will include a contemplative walk through the labyrinth.
Labyrinths also have appeared in both early pagan and Christian traditions, Stone said. The winding, circular path is meant to help generate a meditative state where people can reflect on their life and spirituality.
Megan Quinn writes a faith column once a week for the Camera. Contact her at 303-410-2649 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I found this lovely brief poem in the 2014 WeMoon Calendar, p.
55. It captures the essence of Brigids quiet, on-going
transformative energy, and the practice of keeping her Flame.
One By One