Tonight and tomorrow is when many modern Pagans celebrate the fire festival of Imbolc sacred to the goddess Brigid, patroness of poets, healers, and smiths. Today is also the feast day of Saint Brigid of Ireland patron saint of poets, dairymaids, blacksmiths, healers, cattle, fugitives, Irish nuns, midwives, and new-born babies. In Kildare, Ireland’s town square, a perpetual flame is kept lit and housed in a statue that pays homage to the Pagan and Christian conceptions of Brigid. Festivities for La Feile Bride in Kildare started on January 31st and will continue through February 9th.
Here are a collection of quotes on this holiday.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ― Edith Sitwell
Today (depending on where you live) is the Winter Solstice (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, then it’s the Summer Solstice), traditionally thought to be the longest night and shortest day of the year (though not actually). This time of year is held sacred by many modern Pagan and Heathen traditions, and has a rich history in ancient pagan religion. The solstice time was marked as special by pre-historic peoples in both Ireland and England. While there is scant evidence of specific celebrations, it is generally thought that the pagan Celts did mark the solstice time. Germanic pagans and modern Heathens celebrate Yule at this time.
Tonight and tomorrow is when most modern Pagans celebrate Samhain. Samhain is the start of winter and of the new year in the old Celtic calendar. This is a time when the ancestors are honored, divinations for the new year are performed, and festivals are held in honor of the gods. It is a time of final harvest before the long winter ahead. It is perhaps the best-known and most widely celebrated of the modern Pagan holidays.
September 22nd, 20:44 GMT/UTC, will mark the Autumnal Equinox which signals the beginning of Fall in the northern hemisphere (our friends in the southern hemisphere are celebrating the Spring Equinox). On this day there will be an equal amount of light and darkness, and after this day the nights grow longer and we head towards Winter. In many modern Pagan traditions this is the second of three harvest festivals (the first being Lughnasadh, the third being Samhain). “The 2013 September equinox comes on September 22, at 3:44 p.m. CDT (20:44 UTC). In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is rising later now, and nightfall comes sooner.
“The sun shines not on us but in us.” – John Muir
Today is the celebration of the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, or Litha. It is at this time that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted closest to the sun (the opposite being true for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere who are celebrating the Winter Solstice). It is a time of fertility and celebration: bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and outdoor festivals have been traditional during this time for most of human history. In some modern Pagan faiths it is believed that this holiday represents the highest ascendancy of masculine divinity. Here are some recent quotes on this day from the press, along with some words from those who celebrate the Summer Solstice as a holiday.