Have we ever been so alert to the signs of Spring springing around us in nature, or when have we so welcomed these signs? Here at An Gáirdín we noticed the first signs of colour in early January with the blossoming of the Winter Heliotrope- an invasive! – and a day later came the first of the Lesser Celandine.
Since then new life in abundance has been peeping out of the ground all around us. How wonderful and what a source of hope. We have the flourishing of the indomitable Snowdrops, of Hellebores, Catkins – each day new emergences. The birds too are in their spring mode – the thrush’s mating call can be heard from the high branches. We see the blackbirds competing for partners, the robins marking out territory, goldfinches swarming on the teasels and chaffinches sneaking in on the hen’s fare.
And now on Monday next Feb 1st we have Brigid heralding in the Spring – as it were officially and formally – as she has done for 6000 years. Brigid goes back in the Celtic tradition as the Triune Goddess of Poetry, Crafts and Healing and merges into the Christian era in the 5th century a.d. when we have St Bridid. Brigid’s attributes speak poignantly to us in these Pandemic times. The separation, silence and pain have led many people inwards to discover their unique creative source and most of us have had to call out for healing at various levels. Brigid has been honoured as the great healer, and Brigid’s wells were the focus of her healing. She is mostly associated with the healing of blindness. At this time we can call on her to open our eyes. We can call on her too as we dip into our creative resources in search of a new future as planet Earth.
Brigid is also strongly associated with the land, with fire, with the hearth and with great generosity, abundance and hospitality. We have a rich store of stories, myths and legends about her. The weaving of Brigid’s cross is a custom that has lived on. It is thought to have originated as a solar symbol and used to protect the land and animals. The Brat Bríde custom has also come down to us intact – the placing of a piece of blue cloth outdoors on Brigid’s eve and as Brigid passes over the land during the night she blesses it. It is then used as a healing cloth.