So what is Imbolc?
Imbolc or Imbolg, is a Gaelic festival that traditionally marks the start of warmer days and the arrival of spring. It is also the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Saint Brigid of Kildare is Ireland's most important female saint. Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares her name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.
Who was Saint Brigid of Kildare?
St. Brigid, also known as "Mary of the Gael", is a patroness Saint of Ireland. Born the daughter of a powerful Irish Chieftain St. Bridget or also spelled Brigid became a nun completely devoted to relieving the misery and hardship of the poor. The traditional woven cross is said to have originated during a visit St. Bridget made to a dying Chieftain in which she wove it from rushes on the floor to show the significance of the Christian faith. The woven rush cross has become synonymous with St. Bridget.
Saint Brigid is also the Patron Saint of the LAOH. The LAOH stands for the LADIES ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish order and it was organized in The United States of America in New York City in the year of 1836.
What is the Meaning of the Saint Brigid's Cross?
The Irish tradition of weaving a St. Brigid's cross is one that endures among the people of Ireland. The Irish legend of the Saint Brigid cross is tied to the saving action of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary. Irish myth states that St. Brigid cross wards off fire, hunger, and evil away from homes that hang it in various places. This is why St. Brigid Crosses are typically hung near household entranceways.
What is St Brigid's Well?
In Irish mythology Brigid was a Celtic goddess associated with the elements of fire and poetry as well as the unification of women, childbirth, and healing. She was a High King of the Tuada Danann's daughter and her father was Dagda, a High King. The Celts made a point of making pilgrimages to holy wells throughout their history. They would cleanse their wound with water from the well, after which they would tie a piece of cloth, known as a clootie, to a nearby tree. In most cases, a gift to the spirit of the well is made in the form of a Whitethorn or Ash tree. It is not surprising at all to see that these customs have been preserved in the shape of Saint Brigid all the way down to the contemporary day. Pilgrimages to holy wells in modern times often take place on the feast days or pattern days or patron days of the respective saints.
Even though it is now a tiny park that is extremely well kept, the location nonetheless exudes an air of antiquity and is known for being a highly spiritual area. The water in the well comes from a spring that originates below and then resurfaces behind an archway made of stone. St. Brigid's slippers are the name given to the stones that may be found under the archway. The water eventually winds its way around a contemporary bronze figure of Saint Brigid. During my time there, the rag tree beside the well had several clooties hanging from it. The rags are often put there by those who are under the impression that if a piece of clothing belonging to an individual who is afflicted with sickness or any other type of difficulty is hanged from the tree, the issue or disease would go away as the rag deteriorates over time. The rag tree and its gifts of thanks to the saint are made as a sign of appreciation for the healing of a loved one.