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Imbolc

"The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bríde,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground."

Thig an nathair as an toll
Là donn Brìde,
Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd
Air leac an làir.

~ Scottish Gaelic Proverb

Echoes of ancient Druidic traditions are still celebrated today, including the Festival of Imbolc, which coincides with the feast day of St. Brigid, Candlemas, and Groundhog Day! Imbolc marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. This festival which coincides with the blooming of hawthorn, lambing, and the emergence of snowdrops was also a time of weather divination! The tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came out from their winter dens in expectation of an early spring is believed to the forerunner of the North American Groundhog Day! In Celtic mythology, Imbolc was reckoned as the time when the Cailleach - the divine hag of Gaelic tradition - gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she wishes to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. This led to the belief that a day of foul weather was a harbinger of better days, indicating that the Cailleach was still asleep and that winter would soon be over. 🌱


This tartan was created for all druids to wear. It was designed by Isaac Bonewits, the founder of Ár nDraíocht Féin, a druid fellowship.


Druids were members of the high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures, dating back to at least the 4th century BC.  The word Druid is related to later Celtic word forms such as  Old Irish druí 'druid, sorcerer', Old Cornish druw, and Middle Welsh dryw 'seer; wren' and may be based on a word which meant "oak-knower".   Contemporary sources from this time report Druids to be  responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedure in Gallic, British, and Irish societies.    


Historically, Imbolc traditions were widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man along with the other seasonal festivals of Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain.   It is associated with the onset of the lambing season and the beginning of preparations for the spring sowing, and is much associated with the blooming of blackthorn and spring cleaning!  


In Ireland and Scotland, a representation of Brigid would be paraded around the community by girls and young women. Usually, it was a doll-like figure known as a Brídeóg (also called a 'Breedhoge' or 'Biddy'). It would be made from rushes or reeds and clad in bits of cloth, flowers, or shells.


In the Hebrides of Scotland, a bright shell or crystal called the reul-iuil Bríde (guiding star of Brigid) was set on its chest. The girls would carry it in procession while singing a hymn to Brigid. All wore white with their hair unbound as a symbol of purity and youth.  


For more neo-Druidic traditions and ceremonies, click the painting of