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Friends of Grampian Stones

Friends of Grampian Stones
FOGS Vernal Equinox News
Volume VIII number 2, Candlemas, Feb 1997

Friends of Grampian Stones

Light from the goddess

When the Celtic calendar gradually overtook a timekeeping method perfected by ancestral markers in stone of sun and moon times, the Great Mother, cult goddess of primitive northern cultures, also merged with the goddess of the spring - Bride or Brigantia, in later Celtic Christianity, Brigid or Saint Bride.

As the Earth Mother in her Maiden aspect, she was supreme at a time known to the ancients for ewes giving their first milk, this precious liquid providing sustenance not only for lambs, but for humans hardy enough to have survived a northern winter. Emerging into the light of Candlemas or Imbolc, the maiden Bride was celebrated on February 2nd, symbolising the earth's return to life. Her image or tiny effigy was created in a ceremony, less well-known than that of her autumn guise, the Clyack sheaf (see FOGS Lughnasadh newsletter vol.VII number 3, 1996). Just as the Clyack was woven from harvest straw into a 'corn dolly', at the beginning of spring a miniature Bride was made by women from clay, dressed in white and laid in a basket-cradle with a white stone or a crystal placed on her breast and candles lit around her. The cot-like symbolism is a clear cry to Mother Earth to thank her for deliverance through winter and to ask her for fertility in the new season. In some versions of the ceremony, Bride's white dress was adorned with snowdrops, virtually the only flower brave enough to grace the earth at this time and with feathers from 'a red bird'.

Here symbolism similar to Christianity of red & white, body and blood, is that of life. While harvest songs have survived which were sung by men to celebrate a fruitful year, the sacred music for Candlemas was sung by women.
  • 'On the feast day of Bride
    The serpent shall come from his hole
    I shall not molest the serpent
    Nor shall he molest me' - Ancient Candlemas Rhyme

Like the American Groundhog, the serpent was said to come out of his winter quarters on Candlemas and foretell the rest of winter. Bride's Day was anciently celebrated as the festival of the earth goddess back in her maiden form, heralding new beginnings.

The right of the author to the above material and research is asserted; any duplication of this material should include the author's copyright 1998-2000Marian Youngblood

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Friends of Grampian Stones
Editor Marian Youngblood

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