Celtic Ireland~Imbolc Rising

And so the wheel turns towards Spring and its tentative beginnings in the West of Ireland as the sun rises tomorrow morn.

With the rising of the sun comes Imbolc!

Oftentimes it does not look or even feel like Spring, but the light has changed…something that animals see, feel and react to before we do.

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The understanding of the changing seasons grew from the deep connections between us and the natural world, as can be seen in the word itself, for “Imbolc” refers to sheep’s milk in Old Irish.

During ancient times, lactating ewes represented one of the first signs of Spring.

Imbolc is a Cross Quarter Day, which means it is midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Depending on the year that’s in it, Imbolc can fall between the 2nd & 7th of February…the  calculations vary, despite the best will of man to box it all up into calendars!

Celtic festivals are based on astronomical events!

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Festivals like Imbolc are often claimed to be Wiccan or Pagan, but Imbolc belongs to the ancient peoples of Ireland who were neither Wiccan or Pagan!

Wicca itself is less than one hundred years old

Pagan was a term used to describe those in Ireland before Christianity…a sort of name-calling, in that it became and remains for many, a derogatory term.

My ancestors were never without spiritual beliefs!

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Paganism is a term that developed among the Christian community of southern Europe during late antiquity to describe religions other than their own, Judaism, or Islam–the three Abrahamic religions.

Imbolc (February 2) marks the lengthening days as the growing light awakens the Earth Goddess.

The warmth of the rising, growing sun fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout.

And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.

As Imbolc rises on the second day of February, the last quarter moon is in Scorpio, my birth sign.

Now is the time to secure your seeds for the Spring sowing which is now well underway in propagators and sheltered places.

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You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

I continue to clear out spaces in my cottage and renew many aspects of my life…always a good preparation for Imbolc!

Happy Imbolc to you all!

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Goddess Harmony

www.bealtainecottage.com 064“The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual dying moment. Patriarchy may try to negate body and flee earth with its constant heartbeat of death, but Goddess forces us back to embrace them, to take our human life in our arms and clasp it for the divine life it is – the nice, sanitary, harmonious moment as well as the painful, dark, splintered ones.

If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will lover her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”
Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

This quote from Sue Monk Kidd has served as a wonderful source of inspiration for me, as I move slowly on my journey through this world.

In working so closely with the land over the past years, I have come to understand the meaning of the holiness of every single living thing.

Last summer, for example, I came across a beautiful Wasp nest in one of the trees.

When I put the photo of it onto my Facebook site I was immediately alerted by several people to destroy the nest and kill the wasps.

Why, I thought, must this thing of beauty be destroyed if it not causing harm to me?

Wasps are pollinators and help keep a balance among pests too, such as aphids.

In the eleven years working the land here, I have never been stung, by bee or wasp. Creatures only attack when under threat!

“If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same.”…and nothing has been the same in this little three acre plot since becoming aware of the deep connectivity between myself and Mother Earth…call her the Goddess if you will…but the Divine presence for me is compassion itself.

“Yet rather than calling the earliest religions, which embraced such an open acceptance of all human sexuality, ‘fertility cults,’ we might consider the religions of today as strange in that they seem to associate shame and even sin with the very process of conceiving new human life. Perhaps centuries from now scholars and historians will be classifying them as ‘sterility cults.”
Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman 

Much of my journey has involved stripping away layers of religious and cultural imposed identity.

This is a hard task, as one tries not to alienate others.

At times this journey has felt like one is walking on eggshells, attempting to negotiate a path between questioning/understanding and simply being part of family and community.

In search of an understanding of soul… a communion with the sacred…and being unafraid of where that takes me.

Bealtaine in June 2011 046

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A Time of Hope

Imbolc is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and the return of Spring.

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Imbolc marks the seasonal change, where the first signs of Spring and the return of the sun are noted.

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A festival of light, to celebrate the return of the sun, now gaining power in its’ ascent from its’ low travail across the horizon.

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I walked out across the gardens today, recording in image the day of Imbolc.

The rays of the sun, felt warm upon my face and as I walked away from it, warmed my back.

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This renewal that is Imbolc has cast its’ energy upon the land and myself…here I am re-sculpting the beds near the veranda and creating more of a movable pot garden.

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The hens in the hen-house are sitting against one wall of the building where the sunlight falls warmly upon them.

Even they are aware of Spring and have begun to lay eggs once more.

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Lunaria seed-heads have finally scattered the next generation of flowers and seeds to come.

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Sammy-Bear finds it is his time to be outdoors, almost invisible in the light dusting of snow on this Imbolc morning.

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Many stems of shrubs and trees give off a vibrancy of colour as the sap begins to push up.

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Later today, in the cottage, as the day closes, I shall light candles in each window to celebrate the return of the light and for a brief moment or two, illuminate my home with every light and lamp switched on!

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It is heart warming today to realise that the snow will melt and the warm days lie ahead of us.

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A time to contemplate changes and new beginnings…a time of hope.

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And in tune with that hope, new wine bubbles and ferments in the warm kitchen, ready for warmer days and celebrations.

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Winter projects, such as this knitted throw, are brought to a conclusion…soon to be finished off and gifted to its’ recipient.

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The last days of candlelight are here.

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The dark days are over.

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The sun ascends…

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Illumination, warmth and renewal lie ahead…

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All is light and renewal…

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Prayer for Imbolc
Morgana West
On this Imbolc day, as I kindle the flame upon my hearth,
I pray that the flame of Brigid may burn in my soul,
and the souls of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice,
no hatred or fear, may smother the flame.
I pray that indifference and apathy,
contempt and pride,
may not pour like cold water on the flame.

Instead, may the spark of Brigid light the love in my soul,
that it may burn brightly through this season.
And may I warm those that are lonely,
whose hearts are cold and lifeless,
so that all may know the comfort of Brigid’s love.

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I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 870 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

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Blessings X

Rising to Imbolc

The morning in the garden is bitterly cold.

These are the days before Imbolc.

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We have endured the long sleep and are ready to waken to Imbolc…

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Magical days, filled to the brim with anticipation, a sense of urgency too, as the precious days of sleep and hibernation in the gardens comes to a close.

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As I walk around the gardens this morning, I become increasingly aware of short time left in which to prune and cut back, clear and prepare, the gardens for Spring and Summer.

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Ah, Summer, just the thought of Summer on this cold, white morning of late Winter, comforts the bones.

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The days of walking barefoot in the damp grass lie ahead of me.

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The promise of a warm Summer makes the cold of the day recoil.

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Imbolc heralds Spring here in the West of Ireland.

It is one of the four big Celtic celebrations in Ireland.

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Imbolc was also Christianized into Saint Brigid’s Day.

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Imbolc is a festival of purification, hence the “Spring Cleaning” and a celebration of the first signs of Spring.

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Walking along the paths that wind through the gardens, the colours of an all year round planting scheme are evident.

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Here and there are stacked reminders of work to be completed, in this case, wood to be taken up to the barn, to be cut and stacked for the next winter.

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As the snow melts on the upper hill of Ballyfermoyle, so the water flows through the ponds to be carried further into the mighty Shannon and beyond into the Atlantic Ocean.

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Coming round once more to Imbolc, reminds one of the eternal cycle of renewal and one we are all a part of, though less understood today as by our ancestors of past millennia.

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Willows, Birch and Dogwoods fill ground where once only the Rush held sway. This is the new cycle here of regeneration and renewal…a return to a fertile Earth.

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And, where clean water flows, so does life!

To the ancients peoples of this sacred isle, the water was life and honoured in such a way.

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The starkness of these remaining days are etched with beauty…a rare kind of ethereal beauty that is both proud and alone.

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In a garden so welcoming of the sunlight, for this all faces north, each tree receives these low rays with grace.

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The old name Imbolc occurs only in the very old literature, as many have forgotten it’s magic as the move towards modernity was embraced…but what is lost?

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The Ancient Ways have been suppressed by all invaders and religions, and much dogma of uniformity, without thread of meaning.

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For many in the western world this is now Candlemas in non-Gaelic speaking areas.

However there appears to be a revival of many traditions as people seek to understand their tribal ancestry and re-establish the threads of the tapestry to an older time.

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And so we rise to Imbolc, as our faces seek out the sun and count the lengthening days.

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We strain our necks to peep out onto sunsets, remarking on the time that’s in it.

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Rising, from our long darkness, to Imbolc.

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I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 1,000 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

Most of you are familiar with this Bealtaine Cottage website.

Bealtaine Cottage is free to all, as it has been for the past five years.  

With over 1,000 blogs and 4,000+ photographs, Bealtaine Cottage continues as a free to access website.

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Blessings

Celtic Spring

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

A weekend of storms has settled into sunshine and showers.

mum at Bealtaine CottageThe funeral of my darling Mother is over.

The future for those she left behind has re-started.

A lovely calm has descended upon Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com permacultureI returned on my own last night, preferring to spend time alone.

The evening was filled with lighting stoves, making tea and feeding pets.

My mother was a great pragmatist, being a war-child…she was adept at knuckling down, to doing what had to be done!

So, it’s easy for me to follow suit.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe next few weeks are going to be very busy, as there’s masses of work to be finished in the gardens and much preparation for the growing season ahead!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe next few weeks will see the Willow opening and bees beginning to emerge, rather tentatively, from hibernation.

www.bealtainecottage.comIf there is to be any good Willow for cutting this year, then the coppicing needs to be done now!

www.bealtainecottage.comOne lazy week will never be caught up with!

www.bealtainecottage.comImbolc is welcomed in on the 1st day of February.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThis marks the start of the Celtic Spring…always a month or so earlier in these far reaches of Europe. www.bealtainecottage.comThe earth begins to dry out and warm up…lovely days ahead!

Bealtaine Cottage frogs in the pondThe ponds will throng with frogs and toads, all making merry in the Springtime revelry!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe wheel turns.

www.bealtainecottage.comMother Nature never sleeps.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureSpring is on her way!

Imbolc and the Ascent of Spring

  Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine Cottage The ancient peoples of the Earth celebrated the seasons by paying close attention to the skies above them, especially at night, when clear, and observation was undertaken.

Bealtaine Permaculture Feb 12 004The Celts were particularly aligned in all aspects of their lives, with the precession of the Equinoxes and the timing of the seasons.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 12 003Time was, and remains, cyclical.

It is only patriarchal religions that have enforced a sense of, and adherence to, Linear Time.

The Gregorian Calendar is an example of this.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 002Solstices, Equinoxes and  Cross Quarter days, such as Imbolc, were of great importance to ancient people for regulating their time.

Rhubarb Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 015The knowledge of when to plant, when to harvest, when to stay and when to move was imperative to the well-being of the Tribe.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 007Imbolc is celebrated, this year, on the 3rd day of February, at precisely 3.57pm here in Ireland.

Home made wine to celebrate Imbolc at Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 005The time differs accordingly across the northern hemisphere.

 The Celts named the cross quarters Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasad and Samhain.

Happy Imbolc!

It Looks Like Spring!

Toad in Bealtaine permaculture garden

The sun shone all morning and there was a hint of Spring in the air.

Mr Toad…not a real toad, you understand…caught the rays of the late winter sun and looked quite animated.

Spring is officially welcomed into the west of Ireland on February the 1st, Imbolc, Brigid’s day.

I would not be surprised to see it arrive early!

Certainly here at Bealtaine Cottage, the Daffodils are ready to open flower and Primroses are out.

permaculture tunnel at Bealtaine CottageClearing the polytunnel formed part of this morning’s work, one of the first dry, sunny  mornings in some time.

This involved scraping the weeds off the paths and composting them.

Then the top layer of last year’s straw was cleared from the topsoil and spread on the beds. it doesn’t take long and the result is worth the small effort.

I use an Oscillating Hoe, which although expensive to buy is a great investment, as it saves a lot of hard work.

The winter has been mild and most of the herbs in the tunnel have kept their leaves, with Fennel beginning to grow already and broccoli making a good show.

January in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageThe garden took on a mantle of life in the sunshine and the birds all appeared to be very lively.

A beautiful fox has made an appearance over recent nights and even sauntered along the front of the cottage in broad daylight yesterday morning.

I think it’s a vixen as I hear her calling at night from the hill of Ballyfermoyle behind the cottage.

sam playing in bealtaine cottageMeanwhile, indoors, Sam continues to eat, drink, play and sleep.

I make sure that little Flo stays in the lodge with Sam and Che, as being white furred and young, could fall prey to a very beautiful but hungry fox.

I lost a beautiful marmalade mouser called Ossian to the fox some years ago and it was a dreadful experience.

Bealtaine Cottage 001Flo is very territorial and chases all comers!

Jack, as you can see, is very hen-pecked by Flo…he always gives in!

The Collective Consciousness of Hope

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on EtsyFebruary the 1st is the feast of Saint Brigid.

Brigid was also a Celtic Goddess, who was venerated for protection of the home from fire.

morning sun at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage Ireland is full of spring wells named after the Goddess Brigid, who held sway over them.

The Spring Wells are often seen as a portal to the Otherworld and a source of wisdom and healing.

Jack, the rescue dog at Bealtaine CottageThere is a Brigid in all who nurture compassion, hope, love and life.

Buddleia in bloom at Bealtaine CottageThese are aspects of the Divine Feminine and this is the Age of the Awakening of the Divine Feminine in all of humanity.

Governments are the trustees we elect…

They will only do what we allow them to… for we are many and they are few.

Empowerment rests within us.

This Awakening is speeding up through the medium of Social Media.

Rhubarb beds at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensI have observed the transformation of people, from being passive receivers of air-brushed, sanitized information through television, to actively engaging in exchanging information, comment and knowledge through shared social media on the internet.

Polytunnel at Bealtaine CottageThis is the beginning of the expansion of the Collective Consciousness.

Where once there was solitary repulsion towards what was wrong, there is now a growing movement of outrage.

Bealtaine CottageThis Imbolc I shall recall the legacy of Brigid.

There was a Christian Monastery built upon the sacred shrine of Brigid.

It went on to become known as a great European centre of learning and culture, that became instrumental in preserving the ancient learning and literature during the Dark Ages.

Ducks at Bealtaine CottageOften I think we are slowly emerging from the Dark Ages of Greed, Ignorance and Arrogance.

We are all sacred beings on a journey towards the Divine.

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageCompassion and Joy connects us all to the Divine.

Change is happening.

Hope abounds.

Saint Brigid’s Day, Imbolc and the 1st of Spring!

Brigid's Cross made at Bealtaine CottageMaking a St. Brigid’s cross is a special traditional ritual here in Ireland.

The ancient festival of Imbolc reminds us that deep in the earth lie the dormant seeds of new life and creativity

Brigid, the goddess of fire, whose manifestations were song, craftsmanship, and poetry, which the Irish considered the flame of knowledge.

 Bealtaine Cottage stone circleThis ritual marks the end of winter and the beginning of early spring, 1st February.

Bealtaine Cottage SpringBrigid’s crosses are made of rushes that are pulled from the ground and made on the day.

The rushes must be pulled,rather than cut.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture It is the custom to hang the cross by the door, as this is regarded to protect the house from fire and all negative energy.

Imbolc marks the centre of the dark half of the year.

Following the darkness of midwinter it is the time to prepare for growth & renewal

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture According to tradition a new cross is made each St Brigid’s Day.

Bealtaine Cottage spring wellThe old one is then burned to keep fire and all bad energies away from the house. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture winter sun

Imbolc fell midway between the winter solstice & spring equinox of the Celtic calendar, but now falls on 1 Feb in the Gregorian calendar.

I have been making Brigid’s Crosses today  for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Imbolc at Bealtaine Cottage…and the sun is shining!

Today has been the finest day of the year so far!

Imbolc.

The first day of Spring on the Celtic calendar…and it hasn’t disappointed!

Even as I write this journal, at almost 4pm, the sun continues to shine…

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” 
― Margaret Atwood

Nature is awakening from her winter rest – the long winter darkness begins to break as the daylight hours begin to get longer. 

Today is a good time to begin Spring cleaning!

This comes from the habit at Imbolc of getting rid of unwanted clutter and looking forward to the new season.
It is also a good time to finish old habits and make a fresh start,  for the world is full of new opportunities.

Imbolc is one of the four major Celtic Festivals.

It is closely associated with the goddess Brigid,who in turn gave her name to the Irish Christian Saint, Brigid.

Bright Blessings to you all on this beautiful day!

On the Eve of Imbolc…

Imbolc is a time to celebrate the promise of Spring and to think about planting…

On the eve of Imbolc

Imbolc, or St Brigid’s Day  Lá Fhéile Bríde,  is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring.

Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st day of February, the date that falls approximately halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Hens at Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2012

The holiday was, and for many still is, a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring.

Stove at bealtaine cottageCelebrations are focused around hearth fires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, candles, invoking a sense of the light to come…

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

candle and spiral at bealtaine cottageFire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.

Brigid is the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smith-craft. 

As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.

The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

Laurel arch at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.

Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.

The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning.

The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on Etsy

Traditionally, a cross made from pulled rushes is hung inside the home each Imbolc.

You can find these at the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop, at the right side of this page.