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In Brigid’s name, I light this flame

As the warmth of summer comes to an end, I watch the colors change, and I say goodbye to the sun so that the earth under my feet can sleep. Like many, I turn inward to focus on projects that nourish my spirit throughout the dark winter months. I am a crafter, have been since I can remember.

When I started down my pagan path, the concept of working one on one with a deity was liberating and intimidating. Many of the goddesses struck my curiosity as an independent-minded woman, but none I researched called to me. It wasn’t until much later, when I attended a group celebration for Imbolc, I finally heard her name. Keepers of the flame. Hestia, Vesta, Bastet, Frigga.

Brigid. Goddess of the Hearth.

I grew up with a wood stove in my home and loved spending the cold days in front of the fire reading and writing or working on an art piece. Fire has always been my home and my center, and I had found my lady. Or rather, I discovered she had been there all along, pulling my hand silently until I learned the language to speak with her.

Brigid stands by us at the hearth, inspiring creative hands, whispering promises of new beginnings and spring. Brigid, or in Irish pronounced “Breed,” was one of the Tuatha de Danann, a race of gods that held Ireland before the ancestors of man. She is the Goddess of the hearth and fertility, having lost her son, a protector of the family, a healer, and the goddess of poetry and craft. In ancient traditions, the fire was a symbol of life, and the hearth was the center of the home. Imbolc was her celebration. In old Irish, Imbolc means “in the belly” during a time waiting for new life.

On Imbolc, new fires were kindled, and the people drove livestock between the flames to ensure fertility for the following year. Families relighted home hearths from the embers of these fires to protect their homes. One of my most cherished altarpieces is Brigid’s cross, made and brought back for me from Ireland by a close friend. The crosses, thought to represent the sun wheel and the return of the light, were made out of rushes every year to hang in homes also as a symbol of her protection. As with fire, Brigid is also a goddess of water, a symbol of her healing gifts. To this day, there are sacred wells scattered across the land where she is still paid homage.

Many a fire has been lit now in my hearth in her name. She inspires my spirit, my craft, and my art. When the time is right, I will visit one of her sacred wells and light a flame. I will ask for new rushes and thank her for the guidance she has given me since I can remember.

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