Gathering at First Light/Imbolc/Brigid/Candlemas on August 2 was extra special this year, because our group was able to take a whole weekend together. One member, who has been living in England for many years now, was back in New Zealand and able to join us.
We enjoy making food together,

 and joke that we always have far too much. But we are learning to simplify.

 First Light marks the half-way point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In Celtic society, this was the festival of Imbolc, derived from the old word for ewe’s milk, which began to flow again with the returning light and warmth.  It was also the festival of the Celtic fire goddess Brigid, goddess of inspiration, healing and poetry.
And so, as we lit our candles, we read and listened to some inspiring poetry.

This year I had secretly made a special gift for everyone: a Candlemas/Brigid lantern. In my next post I’ll show you how to make one; but for now, watch what happens when the candles are lit inside:

 These were photographed before the handles were fixed on.

The spirit of Brigid is youthfulness and play, for it’s the maiden aspect of the Goddess that comes to the fore at this time. In Britain people would open the door and call out, ‘Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?’, inviting in light and fun after the long winter.
Women used to walk in candlelit processions as part of the festivities. And so here we were, seven grown women, each lighting her lantern and singing a simple song (taught to me by 5 year old Mira), walking in procession with our lanterns in the darkness of the night, giggling away and delighting in the simple magic.

I go with my Brigid lantern
My lantern is going with me
In heaven the stars are a-shining
On earth they are shining in me.
The light is returning, inklings of spring are appearing. The fragrance of magnolias and early spring flowering bulbs is wafting through the air.
 Happy Brigid to you all, and in the northern hemisphere, happy Lammas/Harvest.