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Deities of Imbolc

Deities of Imbolc

Imbolc, the pagan festival of spring is celebrated on the 1st – 2nd February.  The goddess or god that you associate with this festival will largely depend on where in the world you are or which particular path you are on.  However, there are a couple of deities that have come to be particularly associated with this celebration.

The first of these deities is Brigid, a goddess of the Irish pantheon who later became Christianised as saint Brigid.  Along with this Christianisation of her name Imbolc became known as the feast of saint Brigid.   Brigid has many responsibilities whether as goddess or saint.  She is the patron of poets, smiths and healers and at the same time she is worshipped today as a goddess of hearth and home.   

The one thing she has in common with her saint persona is that they are both associated with flames, especially eternal flames.  The goddess Brigid was associated with hilltop bonfires where as the saint Brigid was associated with holy eternal flames such as the sacred flame of Kildare.  Since Imbolg is one of the pagan fire festivals you can see how this goddess would fit in so well.

If you follow an Egyptian path then February 2nd is the birthday of Nut and in some paths the festival of Nut.  Nut is the Egyptian goddess of the sky and the barrier that separates chaos from order.  She was also seen as friend and protector of the dead thanks to her interactions with Osiris. Nut is sometimes seen as a giant sow suckling many piglets which fit in perfectly with the idea of spring and new life.

In the Greek pantheon calendar, February 1st is known as a day to celebrate Zeus and the Olympians conquering Cronus and his Titans.  Cronus was the king of the titans and when he heard that his children would overthrow him he swallowed all his children as soon as they were born.  When Zeus was born his mother Rhea handed Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed, and she hid Zeus in a cave.  Later when Zeus grew up he returned and saved all his brothers and sisters, overthrew his father and became king of the gods. Of course during the celebration the emphasis was on Zeus and like Nut, Zeus was a sky god and sometimes seen as a livestock creature, in this case, a bull.   

For the Romans Venus the goddess of beauty and fertility was worshipped around this time.  Offerings would be made to her to ensure fertility to the fields and crops.  These offerings would be anything that the householder could offer although offerings of grapes or flowers were commonplace.  Grapes as an offering were a throwback to when she was goddess of the vineyards and general vegetation.

There are many more deities you could use as a focal point for this celebration depending on what pantheon or path you follow. There is a god or goddess for this month within every culture so take a little time to read up on them and follow your heart.