Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Tomorrow is the eve of St. Brigid’s feast day, a threshold time in the Celtic imagination where the doors to the Otherworld open wider and we are invited to rest into this liminal space and listen for our heart’s true calling.
As the pandemic continues on, many of you have asked us if we would consider creating a virtual pilgrimage. We are delighted to invite you into this sacred space with us. Nine days of giving yourself the gift of dwelling in time outside of time and letting your imagination bring you on a journey of the heart.
This is an excerpt from my book The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred:
In Ireland, Brigid is one of the three patron Saints of the land alongside Patrick and Columba. We don’t know many details of her life, and there is great evidence that she is part of a much older lineage extending back to the Irish triple goddess Brigid of pre-Christian times who was the goddess of poets, smithwork, and healing.
The saint is said to have been born on a threshold. Her mother was standing straddling a doorway when Brigid came into her earthly form. There is a tradition from this of midwives calling upon the presence of Brigid at the time of birth, honoring her reality as a midwife of the threshold place.
Most of what we know about St. Brigid comes from the Life of Brigid written by the monk Cogitosis in the second half of the 7th century. The Life emphasizes her healing, her kinship with animals, her profound sense of hospitality and generosity, and concern for those oppressed. These stories of the Saints are not meant to be literal or historical, but spiritual, mythical, archetypal, and psychological, resonating with the deepest parts of our souls.
Her feast day is February 1st which in the Celtic calendar is also the feast of Imbolc and the threshold into springtime. It is the time when the ewes begin to give birth and give forth their milk, and heralds the coming of longer and warmer days. She is the first sign of life after the long dark nights of winter. She breathes into the landscape so that it begins to awaken. Snowdrops, the first flowers of spring are one of her symbols.
Often in Ireland, I have heard Brigid described as a bridge between the pre-Christian and Christian traditions, between the other world and this one. She bridges the thresholds between traditions and draws them together under her mantle.
Consider calling upon Brigid each morning of the coming days, asking her to help you tend the threshold of your life right now.
If you are feeling in a place of transition, our virtual Celtic pilgrimage which starts tomorrow is a beautiful way to offer yourself a sacred holding space in community to journey through the disorientation that thresholds can bring.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Dancing Monk Icon by Marcy Hall at Rabbit Room Arts