My good friend Clare Peterson sent me this little note about the Celtic celebration of Imbolc or Candlemas - the Feast of Brigid:
Had to smile at this.. when reading up on Brigid who's feast day is tomorrow.. Imbolc~Candlemas.
"Brigid had an extensive female priesthood at Kildare, Ireland and an ever-burning sacred fire in her shrine. There were 19 priestess representing the 19-year cycle of the Celtic "Great Year." Each priestess tended the sacred fire in turn, through a 20-day rotation. On 20th day of each cycle the sacred fire was said to be tended by Brigid herself. Her shrine was likened to that of Vesta tended by the vestal virgins in Rome. Its sacred flame was kept burning.
The Irish claimed that she brought "whistling" to the world, which she invented one night when she wanted to call her friends."
It seems I can remember in my bones a time when I took my turn with my sisters to tend the sacred fire, an ancient time when it was safe to serve the Mother. May we sweep the remanants of winter from our homes and from our hearts as we prepare for the quickening bursts of spring.