Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Feast of the Presentation of the Lord!
Also known as Candlemas.

When I was just a kid, I was chased away from my church by a priest who called me a witch. He said my particular talents didn’t belong in God’s church.

My grandmother also called me the family witch. She told me one was born into our family at every generation.

Thus, I launched a belief in witch craft. Study of goddess worship. Hanging out with a bunch of pagans.

Called by God, I came back to my church. I discovered I DO belong and my abilities are a biblical gift from God. Charisms of the Spirit. I launched into another spree of learning, I discovered a lot of the things claimed by the pagan community just aren’t true. Let’s take today the “Holy Day” of Candlemas.

Back, oh say 20 years ago, when I was knee deep in learning everything I could about being a witch, books on being a witch included a celebration of February 2nd as Candlemas. Later books would change the name to Imbolc.

Candlemas is a Catholic feast. The Candle Mass, a celebration of the Presentation of Our Lord when all the faithful bring beeswax candles to the church. They are blessed outside the church then a procession into the church and a mass given by light of the newly blessed candles. They represent Jesus as The Light Of The World.

My pagan friends celebrate Candlemas (odd since it’s a Catholic feast…) or Imbolc as it would later be called. Imbolc is a Gaelic term for being pregnant and was generally celebrated as a time of wealth based on the fertility of certain critters. Namely sheep. More pregnant sheep meant more money for the sale of lambs.

My pagan friends focus this Holy Day on the celebration of the goddess Brigid. They’ll tell you the Christians stole her and Christianized her. Calling her St. Brigid. My research into the subject has proven this to be quite untrue, as it has with a number of their claims to Christian conspiracy and thievery.

While Christianity did “sanctify” a number of pagan practices by putting them to use for God, it isn’t the case with Brigid of Ireland. St. Brigid was a real person. She was born around 450 AD, the illegitimate daughter of a druid and a slave. Even as a child her holiness was noted. She loved to woods and the animals found therein. She managed dairy cows as a youth. While she gave away much of it’s produce to those in need, the dairy thrived. As such she is the patron of milk maid, cows and dairy workers. She became a Catholic nun and founded churches and ways of religious life in Ireland. She was also a woman of great charisms. Such that frightened the local people who more than once thought to burn her at the stake. Her druid father owned both she and her mother as slaves, but eventually freed them. Seemingly because he was tired of Brigid giving away so much of his dairy produce.

There are older references to a goddess called Brigid in Ireland. This goddess is thought to be a Welsh import. Perhaps St. Brigid's druid father named her for this goddess. However, the "cult" of Brigid begins around the time the very real St. Brigid lived.

A quote from St. Brigid of Ireland:

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity.

1 comment:

Lisa L. Spangenberg said...

Imbolc predates Candlemas by a couple thousand years :D

It's not about being pregnant, though; it's about ewes having delivered lambs, and being full of milk.

Don't ask a neo Pagan about this stuff; ask a Celticist.