Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Blessings of Imbolg to you!

The name Brigid, Bhríde, has its' roots in Bríg meaning 'exalted' or 'high', a meaning also incorporating ideas of power, strength, vigour and authority. 
As a triple goddess Brigid is known as Brigit of Poetry, Healing and Smith-craft and she illuminates the dawn sky as three swans fly overhead. 
In her hands she holds the triple flame as well as the three-armed Brigid's cross, once common in Co. Donegal.
Fastening her cloak is a gold disc, one of a pair discovered in the roots of a tree at Tedavnet, Co. Monaghan and dating from the Early Bronze Age.

To either side of the main figure can be seen two mounds, part of Loughcrew, Co. Meath, the openings of which are aligned to the Imbolc sunrise around 7th February, the original date of the fire festival.
On St. Brigid's Eve, she is believed to walk the land dispensing her blessing and in folk tradition a cloth left outside overnight, the Brát Bhride, is blessed by Brigid as she passes by and is said to protect her people against 'fire, famine and fever'. La Fhéile Bride, Brigid's day, is now celebrated on the 1st February and marks the beginning of Spring.

Below the hands of the goddess can be seen Croghan Hill, Co. Offaly whose proper name, Cruachán Bríg Eile, means 'mound of the Exalted Eile', the daughter of a king. Locally it is said that Brigid was born near the foot of the hill which she visited later as St. Brigid.
Croghan Hill itself is an extinct volcano and it is beneath here that Brigit Begoibne had her smithy where she created beautiful cauldrons.
The bronze vessel in the painting is from the Early Iron Age and was discovered at Fore, 
Co. Westmeath. From Croghan Hill flow three springs which at one time fed the three 
sacred healing wells at its' base. 

Below the spread of Brigid's cloak can be seen the oak tree and the ridge of clay, where 
St. Brigid founded Cill Dara, 'the Cell of the Oak', Kildare and it was here that Brigid had her shrine and perpetual flame.

At the bottom of the painting, surrounded by reeds and reflecting the gentle sunlight at Imbolc, is a well in Co. Laois symbolising the sacred wells of Brigid throughout Ireland. 

The gold disc & bronze vessel are on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Aengus Óg

Aengus Óg © Jane Brideson 2013

The Blessings of the Returning Sun to you!

Aengus Óg, 'young Aengus' is the Irish god of love, youth and poetic inspiration. 
At the top left can be seen the Milky Way, in which the constellation of Cygnus, 
the Swan, is rising. Below is Red Mountain, Co. Meath where the sun rises at 
Winter Solstice before entering Newgrange.
To the right is Dún Aonghasa, the prehistoric fort on Inis Mór, Aran Islands. 
 The twisted gold collar circling the neck of Aengus dates to the early Iron Age and was found at Ardnaglug, Co. Roscommon.
Aengus is associated with the 'new' sun at Winter Solstice and within his body can be seen the sunlight entering the passage at Newgrange. 
As the reborn sun his gentle light illuminates the land, shining on the Brú and bringing the promise of spring.
At the bottom is the River Boyne on which swim two swans, Aengus and Caer, the swan-girl he fell in love with after seeing her in a dream.
The twisted gold collar is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.