Corra, Celtic Serpent Goddess by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoEven though snakes never inhabited Ireland, as in the rest of the ancient world both the serpent and the dragon were ancient symbols of life, fertility, wisdom and immortality for the Celts. Ancient Celtic ornamental work is entwined with serpents and dragons. The Celtic Knot can be seen as a never-ending serpent. A large stone with a carved serpent is found at the sacred cairn sites of Knowth. The megalithic structure of Brug na Bóinne (Newgrange) has multiple serpent-like spirals on the entrance stone.

In Scotland there is the earthen serpent at Glen Feochan, Loch Nell. The Pictish Aberlemno Serpent Stone is engraved with a serpent and other symbols. The torque collar, a symbol of kingship and status was created in the form of a hybrid horned dragon/snake. The serpent was connected to healing pools and springs and the Druids believed the serpent had healing powers together with a certain type of egg shaped stone called a “serpent’s egg.”  Continue reading “Corra, Celtic Serpent Goddess by Judith Shaw”

A Meditation on the Shamrock By Barbara Ardinger

With the eyes of your imagination, see our bright goddess standing tall and fine at her anvil. Her holy and wholly unquenchable fire is burning in the forge. See her holding her hammer and tongs. Perhaps she’s beating a sword, for we sometimes need to defend ourselves, or perhaps she’s beating a sword into a plowshare, for we also need to feed the hungry.

February 2 is the pagan sabbat, or holy day, devoted to the great Celtic triple goddess Brigid (pronounced “Breed”). Brigid is the goddess of poetry, fire, and smithcraft. We’re told that she was converted to Christianity by St. Patrick and later canonized. Her temple was located at Cill Dara (better known as Kildare), where a holy fire was maintained for a thousand years. It was put out during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII when that British king left the Roman church. The fire was relit, but extinguished again in the 18th or 19th century. Today there is an order of Irish nuns that keeps Brigid and her fire alive. As you read the following meditation, imagine that you’re hearing the voice of an elderly priestess. Continue reading “A Meditation on the Shamrock By Barbara Ardinger”

The Feast Day of St. Brigid by Carol P. Christ

May we remember Brigid on her day in the fullness of her connection to bountiful and life-giving earth by setting a bowl of milk on an altar or special place in the garden on her holy day.  Who knows, a snake just might come to drink from it.

The Christian Feast Day of St. Brigid of Kildare, one of the two patron saints of Ireland, is held on February 1, the pre-Christian holiday known as Imbloc.  It is well known that St. Brigid has the same name as a pre-Christian Goddess of Ireland, variously known as Brighid (pronounced “Breed”), Brigid, Brigit, Bride, or Bridie.  The name Brigid is from the Celtic “Brig” meaning “High One” or “Exalted One.”  Brigid like other Irish Goddesses was originally associated with a Mountain Mother, protectress of the people who lived within sight of her and of the flocks nurtured on her slopes.

Imbloc marked the day that cows and ewes give birth and begin to produce milk.  It was also said to be the day when hibernating snakes (like groundhogs) first come out of their holes.  In northern countries, Imbloc signals the beginning of the ending of winter.  The days have begun to lengthen perceptibly after the winter solstice when the sun stands still and it seems that winter will never end.  At Imbloc spring is not yet in full blossom.  But if hibernating snakes come out of their holes, it is a sure sign that the processes of transformation will continue and warmer days will not be far off.  As Marija Gimbutas says, “The awakening of the snakes meant the awakening of all of nature, the beginning of the life of the new year.”   Continue reading “The Feast Day of St. Brigid by Carol P. Christ”

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