Today we pagans celebrate Imbolc [meaning in-belly], an ancient Celtic festival which pays homage to the lengthening of the days, the first signs of Spring and a time to start making preparations for the growing season ahead. The catholic church are celebrating the feast day of the good Naomh Brid, one of our patron saints, however there is an interesting theory about this Brigit, as she is also known..
Some scholars suggest that believers syncretised St Brigid with the pagan goddess Brighid. According to medievalist Pamela Berger, Christian “monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart.”
This fits into the pattern of “absorption” of pagan figures and feast days, a well-used strategy of the religious orders to ensure a smooth transition from heathen to holy.
Either way, we can appreciate the connection between this time of the year and the goddess of birth, nurturing and nature. We are halfway between the Winter solstice and the Spring Equinox, the first lambs arriving and the early buds are visible, lets hope they don’t perish in the coming heavy frosts.
Anyone who grows their own food, and those who do it for a living, are ordering seeds, planning the sowing regime, perhaps sowing the first seeds in heated propagators. In my plot the broad beans and garlic sown last Autumn are beginning to show signs of growth after a 2 month stasis. The purple sprouting broccoli is finally producing, hopefully this will help fill my hungry gap, along with a healthy-looking bed of rainbow chard and perpetual spinach. I’m also cropping the odd leek, a few new leaves of kale and the last of the brussels sprouts.
Joy Larkcom’s “Grow your own Vegetables” includes a very useful Seasonal guide, which recommends for this period, the under-cover sowing of broad beans, beetroot, summer cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, onions, radish, cress, komatsuna, oriental saladini, rocket, sugar-loaf chicory and texsel greens. It’s worth noting that local climate needs to be taken account of, sometimes it’s still too cold for germination to occur.
Out in the garden, if the weather allows, we can be planting more garlic [on light soils] and rhubarb sets.
That should keep us busy for a while. I’m still struggling to get the beds in order and stockpile seaweed [this is a traditional time for collecting seaweed because of high tides here in Ireland].
on that note .. I’m off to the beach..if the weather holds off I can light a bonfire to Welcome the coming Spring and pay my respects to Brighid.