Imbolc

1 February, is the Feast of St. Brigid (Bríd), patron saint of many, including babies, travelers, scholars, and fugitives.

And so I love her.

There is quite a bit of scholarly debate about who she actually was; some claim that she was a real person (which I believe to be true), while others say that her name and legacy are actually derived from the (B.C.E.) Irish goddess of the same name, who is honoured on the very same day, which happens to be Imbolc, one of four sacred ancient Irish days marking and celebrating the passage of the seasons. Imbolc, amongst other things, marks roughly the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

And I believe that’s true as well. Many saints, Irish and otherwise, were Christianized gods and goddess from previous eras.

My maternal grandmother always kept a St. Brigid’s rush cross over the doorway inside her kitchen. She told me that it blessed the home and protected everyone who came to visit.

Okay, gran.

One day, (this day), I was hitching around Co. Clare. I didn’t have much money. I did have a tent and a sleeping bag in my pack, but that was about all.

A man and woman stopped to pick me up. I was soaking wet.

The man was from Manchester, the woman from Clare. They were heading home to Doolin, and asked me where I was staying.

“Doolin.”

“Where?”

“Don’t know. I’ll find somewhere to camp.”

They exchanged concerned glances. The weather was fierce. The man offered to let me camp in his backyard for a small sum. I made the appropriately polite decline, praying that he would insist, which he did.

Sigh of relief.

So I set up my tent, went to sleep with all of my clothing on, including my boots.

Early in  the morning, I woke up to the sound of someone moaning.

It was me. I was freezing.

When I went outside, I saw a St. Brigid’s rush cross outside my tent. I grabbed it and put it with my things. And then I went to have a pint. When I came back, my tent was gone.

The Englishman came up to me and said, “Your tent blew away. I caught it and put it in the house, with your pack and all.”

“Ah, Jesus, I’m sorry. Thanks so much. I’ll just get it and be on my way.”

“You can’t. You’ll die from the cold. You can sleep in the house tonight, in the kitchen.”

“Thank you, but I can’t do that. Your wife would murder you.”

“Who do you think put that cross outside your tent? It wasn’t me.”

“Oh. I really am very sorry…”

“Don’t be sorry. Just come inside and be warm.”

So we had tea. I had a hot shower. When I was finished, they’d made me supper.

“I can’t thank you enough…”

They both started laughing.

“Thank you for everything. And thank you for the cross.”

The woman (still laughing) said, “You’re very welcome. Hold onto it, would you?”

“I will.”

And I did, for years. But it was made from rushes, and eventually, it fell into ruin.

So I went to buy another. The shop I went to had no rush crosses, only one St. Brigid’s cross, made from pewter. It was more than I could afford, but I bought it anyway.

Still hangs over my kitchen door.

Can’t say whether or not I believe in all of what’s told about St. Brigid.

But I definitely believe in the man from Manchester, and his lovely wife, St. Siobhan.

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31 Responses to Imbolc

  1. lovely post, thank you. ps: you know that you could’ve made your own St Bridget’s Cross out of rushes for free 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There are so mighty good folks out there. Not enough, to be certain, but some. And they’re good as gold.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re such an excellent storyteller! Your conversations are definitely your strong points as they flow flawlessly and sound so natural. I believe having faith can never be a bad thing. May St. Brigid always find you warm and well loved. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Letting Life touch you is half the game…having the wherewithal to write it down poignantly is the poetry of religion and the song of the soul. Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      Thank you so much. I wanted to comment on your latest post, but had nothing intelligent to say, which is a habit of mine. Your writing really gave me something to think about. Hopefully, after time, I’ll have something to contribute.

      Like

  5. I tend to think of ghost stories as belonging to the category of Supernaturally infused tales that do in fact have a ghost (a better term being Spectral Fiction) and which have that undercurrent of justice, revenge, or revelation. I think of terror as including the other brands of Supernatural Fiction and what is also termed Weird Fiction and which may or may not include a ghost. I think of Gothic (the True Gothic) as fiction belonging to the late 18th or early 19th centuries that contain their own particular set of conventions which include moody atmosphere/setting, isolation, psychological influences, and have clear extension from Classic English Literature, and New Gothic to being a natural extension from that period — even mimicking some of the accepted conventions adapted to modern times. To me, Horror is all of the above, because all of the above set out to disturb and unsettle, to base plot on the ability to create resonant fear and dread in the audience. Some experts on Weird Fiction believe that to be the other way around (for example, respected Literary Critic S.T. Joshi considers Horror to be a subgenre of Weird). I think there is room for discussion….But to see where the field seems to be heading in the argument, I highly recommend Joshi’s book, The Weird Tale….

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      That’s an excellent explanation (and I apologise for going off topic from your last post.) I don’t know who I’m paraphrasing here, perhaps King or Barker, but my understanding of terror vs. horror is terror is something that your fear, whereas horror is when that fear becomes a reality, something you cannot escape from. I enjoy all sorts of ‘weird tales’, sort of what attracted me to literature in the first place, but I prefer writing that unsettles rather than goes for sheer shock value. But that’s just me. Thank you for recommending S.T. Joshi’s book. I will definitely give it a read.

      Like

  6. Whatever one does or does not believe about gods and saints and such, the design of St Brigid’s cross is inspiring in its beautiful simplicity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      It is beautiful. And has many connotations associated with it, including constellations. One of my nieces can make one in about five minutes, so she’s a saint to me. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sure you’ve been there but toward the base of the Cliffs of Moher is a shrine/well dedicated to her that is absolutely beautiful. We found it in the middle of the night and when we left, neither my friend or I spoke for about an hour. It was completely religious and utterly pagan, and it gives me goosebumps to think about it even years later

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      I have, and thank you for sharing that with me, it really means a lot. No matter what one believes (and I respect other’s opinions, mostly) there’s no denying the presence behind her many shrines and wells. May be a force beyond our reckoning, or simply a sort of psychic residue left from visitors before us. In any case, it’s something to believe in, secular or otherwise. Thank you once again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are so many dedicated to her, but that one was super special. I only saw a few places that felt that way on my last trip…hoping for more this time

        Liked by 1 person

      • oglach says:

        There are many in Clare (those in the Burren are variously attributed to different goddesses) and of course, in Kildare. I think the secret with any places such as these is to visit when no one else is present (aside from a friend). That’s when nasty weather can be a help, if you can brave it (which I’m certain you can.)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such a wonderful story! Thank you for telling it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. acarson1 says:

    This is a beautiful post. When I was growing up, I was always with my maternal grandfather. We used to walk his dog twice a day and he told me stories of all sorts from saints to his own childhood. His favourite Saint was St Brigid. Being in Belfast, we had access to a lot of marsh land. During our walks, we would have taken the scissors and cut a chunk of reeds to take home. He showed me how to make St Brigid’s crosses. We made new ones every year for every household he was the patriarch of. I miss that old wise man.

    Liked by 2 people

    • oglach says:

      That is a beautiful story. My grandmother tried to teach me to make them (not that hard) but I thought it was something for girls to do, so I didn’t pay much attention. I’m regretful for that. You should write a story about you and your grandad. I’d love to read it.

      Like

  10. oglach says:

    Sorry, I accidentally deleted your last comment .

    Like

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