No matter what happens in our lives––times of sadness, times of joy––our planet continues to do what it does: spin on its axis and orbit the sun. These are the celestial mechanics of a universe ruled by gravity. The spinning causes our passing days and nights and the orbiting, our seasons, and today, thanks to that constant progression around the sun, we find ourselves just about midway between the midwinter solstice of December and the spring equinox of March.
As a halfway point in the seasonal round it is known as a cross-quarter day, one that in Celtic tradition is called Imbolc: the start, in traditional reckoning of time, of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The Church gave the day to St. Brigid, or St. Brigit, but me, I like the Brigid version because it looks more like “bridge,” which is what Brigid does: she bridges us from one perspective to the next, from winter to spring’s first stirrings. It will, for sure, be a long while before winter loses its grip, but Brigid gives us the assurance that it will happen, for nothing stays the same in the Earth’s daily migration along its path. Winter will give way to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring again. “The only thing that stays the same is change,” say the Waterboys in an old song of theirs, and they are right.
It is traditional for St. Brigid’s Day to fashion a St. Brigid’s Cross out of rushes or reeds (this is what you see in today’s photograph, above), as well as to leave an oat cake and butter on a windowsill in your home. This, to encourage Brigid to visit your home and bless all who live there. Brigid bridges us also to Candlemas, which comes tomorrow, and tonight, being Candlemas Eve, marks the true and official end of the Christmas season. If there still remain vestiges of yuletide greenery in your home, this is the night to remove them. And so tonight return to nature what is hers––the rosemary, bays, mistletoe, holly, ivy, all––if for no other reason than that soon enough, the earth itself will once again be erupting in green.
Image: St. Brigid’s Cross by Liscannorman [Creative Commons], via Wikimedia Commons.