Much of the modern pagan world–Celtic (or, more specifically, Irish) in focus or not–sees today as Imbolc, and the feast of the goddess Brigit (or Brigid). Every pagan, it seems, has at least heard her name; and while many Irish Americans might be ignorant of her, as the lead-in to the following article indicates rather plainly, she’s by no means unheard of in Ireland either.
Sacred Source now has a Brigit statue that is more fitting to her polytheistic nature (and which happens to be on sale at the moment!). The write-up on her is not quite right, of course, but nonetheless…But, some of you may be asking: “what do you mean by that?” Brigit is not a singular goddess, except for in the minds of monistic-thinking scholars and practitioners. If you want to know more about this topic, have a look at this post from last year. And if you’d like to read a poem for Brigit and Darlugdach, to bring in some queer angles to the whole thing (and ones that are also celebrated on this day), that’s here, too!
But of course, one of the main festivals that I celebrate on this day is not for Brigit, but for the son of Lug, Cú Chulainn, who fought his deadly combat with his foster-brother and lover Fer Diad on this day (or around this time). I’ve talked about that here. Just as at Lugnasad, when many people celebrate Lug, I observe a celebration for Brigit’s three children, the Three Gods of Skill (Trí Dee Dána), so it only seems fair that the reverse also happens on the day honoring Brigit. This is not simply contrariness (although even that is often useful, simply to highlight important things people might be missing), this is mainly due to the fact that I am far closer to Cú Chulainn and the Trí Dee Dána than I am to either of those children’s parent deities–no, Lug and Brigit are not entirely outside my experience, but like so many things in which deities are involved as actual beings outside of one’s own perceptions or mental processes, there is a difference between interest and desire for particular relationships and the actualities involved. I don’t think Lug or Brigit “dislike” me, but I also know I’m not high on their respective lists of honored devotees…and, I’m all right with that, and I suspect they are as well given how much I honor their children. Of course, this is also subject to change, but as of right this moment, that’s how things stand.
Hence, my parenthetical subject line above: “Won’t Someone Think Of The Children?!?” That’s pretty much one of the main things I do in my polytheist practices, especially if children end up dying…And, while the Trí Dee Dána seem rather grown-up when they end up dying (and for gods, who knows what that age would actually be!), Cú Chulainn always dies young and seems like the eternal boy of the Ulaid when he does die, even though it is at about age 27 that he dies.
Whether you go with Brigit or Cú Chulainn on this day, though, keep in mind that Imbolc does not mean “ewe’s milk,” “in the belly,” or anything else (other than, perhaps, “washing oneself”); the nearest translation of it that actually makes sense of the linguistic form it has in its earliest appearances is “butter-wolf,” and that relates perfectly to certain aspect of the wider range of Brigit figures, like Bríg Ambue (“Brigit of the Cowless Warrior”), which plays into the entire werewolf complex of beliefs and social structures in many premodern societies…and that, of course, relates to Lupercalia, which is coming up in exactly two weeks…at PantheaCon this year! (On which, more in a moment!)
This video captures some of the various matters discussed above in figurative and literal ways that are somewhat intriguing to me…
If only that wolf would be the one that Sarah Palin hunts…!?!